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Rhode Island’s Nonprofit of the Year 2015

Wednesday, December 30, 2015


In a year that saw #BlackLivesMatter at the center of discussion and debate in Rhode Island, the NAACP Providence Branch served as both an advocate and voice of reason.  It may be over a hundred years old, but the NAACP is just as relevant and important now as at any point in history.  

One of the biggest issues on race occurred in the state in October, when the story that GoLocal first broke of a Dunkin’ Donuts working writing #blacklivesmatter on a Providence Police officer’s cup went national — and the conversation, and debate, ensued around the BlackLivesMatter movement. 

Retired Providence “Dancing Cop” Tony Lepore, Sr. called BlackLivesMatter a “radical organization” — but NAACP Providence Branch President Jim Vincent had a different perspective on the movement. 

The reason why we have 'Black Lives Matter' -- it's because it doesn't seem like our lives matter," said Vincent. “Saying "all lives matter' is a way to avoid the topic. So why can't someone say 'Black Lives Matter, and once we've established that we can go and say 'all lives matter." But first we need do say, and agree -- Black Lives Matter."

Addressing Equality Issues

Jim Vincent

One of the biggest issues that the NAACP continued to work on in 2015 was diversity in the workforce and leadership ranks in Rhode Island, from the Governor’s office, to the Providence Police Department, to the judicial benches of the state’s court system. 

When Governor Gina Raimondo took office this past January, Vincent and the NAACP were among the first to decry the lack of diversity in her staffing decisions.  

"I'm very fond of the Governor, but that does not mean we can't push and hold people accountable," said Williams.  "I think she's a maverick, and the right person to move the state's economic agenda forward.  But when your Chief of staff, Deputy Chiefs of Staff, and top level staff comprise a relatively homogeneous group of people, it shows as a state we tend to be paternalistic."

In 2015, the NAACP Providence Branch along with community leader Kobi Dennis started the “Black Major Movement” to try and get an officer of color appointed to the leadership ranks in the Providence police force. 

"Providence police do not have a black officer above the rank of Sergeant and they have just one black female -- period," said Vincent in May. “The lack of diversity makes those jobs for those officers harder.  We see what happens when there's not a diversity in leadership -- Ferguson is a prime example.” 

Of the judgeships in the state, Vincent has the following to say. 

"People of color represent over 25% of Rhode Islanders, yet the number of judges and magistrates of color could fit into my car," said Vincent of the more than 80 judges and magistrates in the state's judicial system.  "We need a [judicial] system at the highest ranks that reflects the diversity of our population here in the state."

Vincent and the NAACP interceded on behalf of a Black pastor Chris Abuhlime, when he said he was having trouble in the Town of Johnston trying to get a new church established there. 

“I contacted Jim Vincent with the NAACP to try and intervene, but he’s not getting anywhere with the city, either,” said Abhulime. " I told him we’re being treated differently — we just need someone to speak for us.  Maybe others went through the same thing.  The way we’ve been treated is not right.”

Focus on Youth

Providence NAACP youth taking part in America's Journey for Justice

The NAACP Youth Branch leader Pilar McCloud was recognized at one of “15 Who Made a Difference in 2015” by GoLocal.  

She helped lead the NAACP Providence Youth Council at this year's Journey for Justice in Washington, DC.  She was awarded the Providence NAACP Rosa Parks Award for 2015. She received the National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award given to recognize outstanding public service and civic engagement.  

McCloud earned much deserved recognition for constantly being involved with issues close to the community, whether it was weighing in on a controversial rapper coming to Rhode Island, spearheading the #nomore social media campaign, or organizing rallies for youth, McCloud's high energy leadership is felt throughout the city.

"My feeling is that I felt that it was important for NAACP Providence branch to have the right person to be the leader of our youth council -- I'm happy I've found the right person," said Jim Vincent, President of the NAACP Providence Branch.


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