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Wilson takes over post after 6 years as 1st VP

By JEFF NEWMANStaff writer

Al Jackson has resigned as president of the Charles County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in order to focus on his recovery from an illness that beset him in February.

Former branch first vice president Janice Wilson had served as interim president since Jackson became ill and now will fill the post permanently.

Jackson, who was elected president in October 2010, announced his resignation Monday at a meeting of the branch’s executive committee, Wilson said. Jackson will remain a member of the branch.

Jackson did not return phone messages seeking comment.

“He wanted to maintain the professionalism of the NAACP organization and to bring that element into the Charles County branch,” Wilson said of Jackson. “He was very interested in the image of the NAACP and what we brought to the community. He believed in accountability, not only for the NAACP but for their membership.”

A branch member for a decade who served as its first vice president for the past six years, Wilson said she would provide the branch with “strong leadership.”

“We are there for the citizens of Charles County, all the citizens. A lot of people are under the impression the NAACP works just for African-Americans, but I am interested in fairness and equity for all,” she said.

Wilson said she wants to increase the group’s communication and outreach with the community.

She wants to maintain the branch’s community newsletter and work with the Charles County Sheriff’s Office to “get information that we can share with the community,” citing a high level of interest in the disparity in incarceration rates for young blacks.

“I think education is key,” she said.

But the primary goal is to increase membership, a recent emphasis for the national NAACP, Wilson said. The local branch has nearly 200 members, “so we've got a lot of work to do,” she said.

“I think through actions people will see we are a vibrant organization and will want to join with us,” she added.

As a Charles County commissioner from 2002 to 2010, Edith Patterson worked with Jackson when he chaired the county’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Diversity and Intergroup Relations.

“I congratulate him on the leadership he showed. He was instrumental in addressing several challenges that occurred in the county,” she said. “He is a very knowledgeable, very smart man, so I wish him well.”

Patterson, who also chairs the local NAACP’s education committee, credited Jackson for pursuing the creation of a citizens review panel that would oversee the sheriff’s office, an idea originally proposed under Jackson’s predecessor, William Braxton. The county commissioners rejected the proposal in May 2011.

Patterson said Wilson will bring “a lot of good ideas that I believe will move us forward even further.”

“I believe she will continue in a very positive vein the goals of the NAACP,” Patterson said of Wilson. “She has an excellent way of relating to people, developing common ground. To say that she’s one of the people that I admire is an understatement.”

jnewman@somdnews.com