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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Spokane NAACP elects new president

The local NAACP has a new leader.

Rachel Dolezal, formerly the director of the Human Rights Education Institute in North Idaho, was elected president of the Spokane NAACP last week in a contested race with incumbent James Wilburn.

Participation in the local NAACP had dropped recently because members were disillusioned with the lack of active committees, Dolezal said.

“I was asked to consider running and was nominated,” she said. “I was listening to the concerns of members. I suppose it was really the fact that I shared those concerns.”

Dolezal is a professor at Eastern Washington University in the Africana Studies Program and serves on the newly created Office of the Police Ombudsman Commission, which provides civilian oversight to the Spokane Police Department.

Wilburn, who served as the chapter president for two years, said the association’s committees had not been active since before his time as president.

“There is just a culture of not participating,” he said. “Maybe she can motivate people to be active in the committees.”

Wilburn said he’s proud of the work he did in partnering with the city, the schools and the police department.

“The position of the president of the NAACP is larger than the person that sits in it,” he said. “I’m glad there’s someone else that wants to step up and become a leader.”

Dolezal, 37, said her goal is to double the membership of the local chapter and said there already has been an increase since her election on Monday.

“I really do believe we need a strong arm of the NAACP in Spokane to carry on civil rights here.”

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