A 22-year-old UMD student unseated Duluth’s NAACP president of more than 20 years on Sunday, Nov. 30. However, her run for president was not without controversy. Classie Dudley, a senior at UMD, was elected president of the NAACP — beating out long-time president Claudie Washington. Washington originally stated that Dudley was ineligible to run for president, as she had a lapse in membership in July. However, Dudley is in accordance with the bylaws of the NAACP’s constitution, and Washington has not officially contested the election.
Formerly the chair of communications for the region’s NAACP, Dudley attended national events in Las Vegas and Florida. After attending these events, the Duluth native decided that she would run for NAACP president, an organization she has always been a part of.
“I’ve always had the heart for social justice and activism,” Dudley said, “and so I’ve always participated in events that the NAACP did locally and statewide.”
Dudley said that her main motivation to run for president was the support she had from people within the organization, as well as a difference of opinion with Washington over what direction the NAACP was heading.
Dudley said that increasing the size of the organization is her top priority.
“I really, really want to push membership,” Dudley said. “I think that’s super important to revitalize an organization that needs strong membership, strong leadership and strong organizational skills. I really want to push that and really unite our branch so we can start working on Duluth.” Dudley said there are around 50 members in the group currently. She added that students are encouraged to attend events, and mentioned that a NAACP college chapter and youth branch are possibilities in the future.
Another goal Dudley had for the group is finding an office space in downtown Duluth. She said that she has been meeting with sponsors and donors, as well as her executive committee, to find a home for the NAACP.
While the membership drive and office space are Dudley’s top two goals at the moment, she has several long-term goals on her agenda.
“I really want to start utilizing unity within the community and planting the NAACP’s mission statement throughout the community,” Dudley said. “That’s something that we always focus on, whether that be with the school district or the police officers or talking to city council. Whatever that aspect that we need to tackle, we’ll do it.”
BY SAM STROM News Editor