Political Notebook: Salisbury-Rowan NAACP President Gemale Black reacts to unsuccessful run for state branch president

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Salisbury-Rowan NAACP President Gemale Black says he’s still pushing forward despite an unsuccessful bid for the state branch’s top spot.

Black, 32, has served as the local branch’s president for five years and decided to “put his name in the hat” earlier this month at a chance to become president of the state branch. Black’s goals included a “reset, restart and refocus” of the state branch on its mission and vision of “justice and equality for all persons” as “the oldest and boldest” civil rights action group in the nation. The NAACP was founded in 1909 on the centennial of former President Abraham Lincoln’s birth.

Black said it was an “odd and quick process” because he and other candidates were only notified about upcoming elections earlier this month. Additionally, a virtual conference because of the pandemic eliminated the opportunity for more personal conversations with delegates prior to their votes. When voting took place during the state branch’s virtual conference on Oct. 23, Salisbury-Rowan had four delegates.

Ultimately, Deborah Maxwell of New Hanover County was elected, making history as the state chapter’s first female president. Outgoing President Rev. T. Anthony Spearman received the second-most votes at 34%, followed by Black with 11% of the vote. Black told the Post he was amazed by the experience and the level of support he received locally and from neighboring counties.

“In two years, I hope if I’m in a good place and if it’s what God has for me, I’ll run again,” Black said.

For now, Black will focus on the rest of his term with the Salisbury-Rowan branch. Among his top priorities are working to eradicate violence, which will then allow a heightened focus on economic development and improvements to the educational and criminal justice system. Black has led the city’s Cease Fire initiative, a partnership with Salisbury Police Department to engage more of the community in helping to reduce gun violence and serve as de-escalators in potentially violent situations. Additionally, Black said the local chapter is working with Catawba College in its environmental science program to build awareness about environmental issues.

“Lots of pillars being covered,” Black said. “We’ll continue to focus on building our community stronger and stronger each day.”

Black’s current term ends in October 2022, and he is unsure if he will seek re-election.

Elon University poll shows mixed support for vaccine mandates, level of optimism heading into winter

Elon University conducted a poll from Oct. 15-17 among North Carolina adults that shows mixed support for COVID-19 vaccine mandates and a lower level of optimism heading into the winter.

The poll surveyed 1,234 adults in the state and has a margin of error of 3%.

The poll gauged opinions from both workers and employers. Among North Carolina adults, 60% are in favor of such a requirement, while 40% disapprove. Similarly, 64% of adults in the state support hospitals requiring medical workers to be vaccinated and 56% approve of private employers requiring vaccinations.

Meanwhile, 59% of respondents approve of universities requiring students to be vaccinated and 55% approve of K-12 schools requiring students to be vaccinated.

The poll comes as the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, works to develop a rule requiring employers with 100 or more workers to require vaccination or test all employees weekly.

The OSHA rule, to be implemented by President Joe Biden’s administration, received the highest level of support from Democrats, 83%, but 41% of Republicans indicated support as well. The poll also showed support for the measure from 74% of Black respondents, 68% of residents of another race and 54% from white residents, with similar findings among men and women.

The poll found that just 40% of adults believe the pandemic will be a little or a lot better by Christmas, while 42% believe it will be “about the same way as it is now.”

The Elon Poll also asked respondents to assign a letter grade to how the governor and president are handling the pandemic. This survey found that a third of North Carolina adults give Biden an “F” for how he has handled the response to the coronavirus crisis, making it the most popular answer. Only 15% gave Biden an “A,” 23% gave the president a “B,” 19% gave him a “C” and 11% gave him a “D.”

Those numbers are similar to the ones former President Donald Trump received in June 2020 when the Elon Poll asked the question.

Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has consistently received fair to good marks from his constituents on how he has handled the pandemic. In June 2020, October 2020 and now, most residents have given him a “B” or “C.” In this survey, 17% gave Cooper an “A” and an equal portion gave him an “F.”

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com or call her at 704-797-4246.

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