New S.B. NAACP President John Futch
By Dianne Anderson
A lot of hard-working volunteers have given time and talent through the decades at the San Bernardino branch of the NAACP, sometimes facing the most intense community concerns of any city in the nation.
John Futch, newly elected president of the local branch, said over the years the organization has maintained its strong role in the local decision-making process, and past administrations have done a great job keeping the pulse on community activities.
Along with strong Black organizations and churches, he believes the local branch is viable to move into areas of political justice at the local and national front.
One example is former county gang prosecutor Michael Selyem, who, under pressure, was suspended and resigned after posting racist comments about Rep. Maxine Waters, President Obama, and Mexican immigrants.
“Any time you can get Jesse Jackson into town, not only are the churches involved in that, but the NAACP is involved. Black organizations are all active when needed,” he said, but added, “the problem we have right now is that all of these organizations are needed all of the time.”
The constant demand for social action requires more volunteers, and more effort to draw millennials in to help with recruitment and outreach.
Keeping the NAACP going strong also means the younger generation has to get ready to carry the torch as some the older members that have served for decades try their best to retire.
Many still recognize the NAACP, a landmark civil rights organization founded 100 years ago, for its tremendous clout to move local and national policy but there is more work to do.
Futch said one of his goals is to create more participation in the schools with parents, and expand citizen participation throughout the community.
“That’s what I’m looking for,” he said. “We want to deal with education, and with the school to prison pipeline. We want to be there to support the African American community.”
The local NAACP is under the national charter. He said they are now working out the details so the organization is fully prepared to move ahead to meet its goals.
He said members are now reviewing all of the necessary reports to meet the requirements and ensure that the local charter is in line with national requirements.
“We’re getting all of our paperwork in so that we can be in compliance,” he said. “We’re taking care of that as we go.”
Out of a lifelong passion for the community, Futch has dutifully stepped into his new role as president.
“I’m trying,” he said. “That’s one reason why so many are trying to retire, but we’re always called out by someone to help.” Which, he emphasizes, he doesn’t mind helping. But, there must be a point when some younger members take the lead to help carry the organization forward for another 100 years, and beyond. He said there is no shortage of obstacles to overcome.
“We’re trying to make our presence known, to show people how important the NAACP is to a community. We battled too hard not to be successful,” he said. At the local level, one of those hard-fought landmark battles, the SBCUSD school de facto segregation case, continues today.
“We’re still working on that. That’s still in play in San Bernardino,” he said.
Looking around the judicial landscape, it’s also hard to ignore how everyone is fighting for their people, Hispanics, Native Americans, and nearly every group in America has benefited from the civil rights fight of African Americans.
They are reaching a place of empowerment through civil rights on the heels of the Black experience.
Likewise, he said Black people must also stay in the fight to a place of self-sufficiency.
“If it happens when we win our battles and they get the benefit from it, that’s all well and good. But we should be allowed to go into battle for our people,” he said.