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NAACP Facing Questions About Sexual Harassment

Jazmyne Childs, a former youth and college director for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is alleging that she endured sexual harassment from her supervisor. Her supervisor was the Rev. Curtis Gatewood, and he was just recently seeking to be President of the North Carolina chapter of the organization. Childs spoke out at a press conference where she asserted that she had written letters complaining about the conduct to the national NAACP but alleged that the national organization did not respond to her complaints. She asserted that the NAACP “cannot fight racism and protect sexism.”

In 2018, the national organization enacted a resolution supporting the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault. The resolutions stated that the NAACP will “ensure all of our volunteer and NAACP staff will continue to be trained to recognize and address actions that fail to create an empowering environment for all who work and volunteer with our organization.”

Childs and the Rev. William Barber, who was the state chapter president of the North Carolina branch during Childs’ employment, allege the organization has failed the women in its ranks. Gatewood is alleged to have come up behind Childs and pressed his penis against her buttocks. She yelled at him “Why are you hovering over me? That’s gross.” He purportedly stormed out. Barber hired an attorney to conduct an independent investigation; the investigator found Childs to be a credible witness but Gatewood was not found to be credible. Childs tried to have Gatewood expelled but the national organization instead had Childs get a restraining order and Gateway was banned from events. He came anyway. She again demanded his expulsion but the NAACP did not respond.

In response to public allegations, Gatewood posted on Facebook his denial and criticized the public airing of concerns, stating that it makes them “no better than the lynch mobs the NAACP was formed to fight.” The NAACP does not have a formal sexual harassment policy in place. However, in response to Child’s public allegations, the NAACP has suspended Gatewood, making him currently ineligible to run for office. The organization has also indicated its intention to begin an investigation.