WINCHESTER — Frederick County resident Michael Faison is the new president of the local NAACP chapter.
He took his oath of office on Saturday during a virtual ceremony. He was elected by chapter members in November.
Faison, 39, succeeds Winifred “Thea” Thomas. She had been the chapter's president since January 2019 and chose not to seek another two-year term.
“The number one top priority right now is building strong relationships with our local government, public schools, law enforcement, and other agencies that help people,” Faison said in an interview. “We need to find a way to make sure there is equity and equality in our area. The second priority is growing our membership, getting more people active. It’s also spreading a message of unity and hope. I definitely hope we can do that.”
The group's other officers who were sworn in Saturday are 2nd vice president Guss Morrison, secretary Susan MacDonald, assistant secretary Bill Endorf, treasurer Zonetta Scott and assistant treasurer Joyce Morrison. NAACP Regional Vice President Julius Spain Sr. administered the oaths.
Headquartered in Baltimore, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded on Feb. 12, 1909, in response to violence against Black people across the country. Its mission is to “secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons.” With more than 500,000 members and supporters, the NAACP is the largest civil rights organization in the nation. The local chapter — NAACP 7127 — covers the city of Winchester and Frederick and Clarke counties and currently has roughly 110 members.
“We average about three to four calls a month on discrimination, whether in the workplace, in the school systems,” Faison said. “I would like to work with local governments on more deep equity training, on human rights training. That way these discrimination acts don’t continue to happen. Educating the community about what rights there are and how we can respect people’s rights.”
Faison said both the local and national NAACP are calling for President Donald Trump to be impeached and leave office in response to the violent siege of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters last Wednesday. The siege resulted in the deaths of one police officer and four civilians.
“He’s putting our nation at risk,” Faison said. “And by saying that it’s a stolen election, he’s telling Black voters, telling Latino voters, ‘Your votes didn’t matter.’ Because they came out in high numbers this year.”
Faison has been involved with the local NAACP chapter since late 2014. He has also been an active member of the Winchester-Frederick County Democratic Committee, serving as the committee’s second chair in 2020.
The local NAACP chapter usually meets at 10 a.m. on the second Saturday of the month at Highland Memorial Presbyterian Church. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization is currently holding its meetings virtually.
“We've not been able to do fundraising events, which raises scholarship money for our students,” Faison said. “We still have some scholarship money in the bank so the students that we’ve chosen will get their checks to go to college. [The pandemic] has affected the whole area. We have always looked at this and said ‘how can we help people?’ I like to be out, meeting with people. It’s impacted the committee members. It has stalled a lot of the work that we wanted to do. Everybody has to do Zoom meetings. Hopefully things will get back to normal and we get back out in the community and be closer to people.”
He said the NAACP is open to people of all races and that there is diversity within the membership. A youth membership is $10-15 per year and an adult membership is $30 per year. Those interested in joining the organization can contact Faison at email@example.com.