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Spokane chapter of NAACP gets new leadership

UPDATED: Sun., Dec. 20, 2020

NAACP President Kurtis Robinson leads a Black Lives Matter protest march amid a downpour on Sunday, June 14, 2020, in Spokane, Wash.  (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
NAACP President Kurtis Robinson leads a Black Lives Matter protest march amid a downpour on Sunday, June 14, 2020, in Spokane, Wash. (Tyler Tjomsland/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

Kurtis Robinson, president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP, is stepping aside to allow new leadership to meet the needs of the community.

“This has been an intentional shift that I have had in the works now for at least year and a half,” Robinson said. “A lot of the mindset has been philosophies like, letting the needs dictate the action.”

Robinson said he hopes community needs will be addressed better with a change in leadership. Robinson, who became president of the organization in 2017, will stay with the organization as a vice president.

Former vice president Kiantha Duncan will take over as president on Dec. 21. Duncan has been a community leader since she moved to Spokane about six years ago. A longtime organizer, activist, artist, writer and philanthropist, she has written columns in the Black Lens and given a TED Talk.

Recently, Duncan was appointed to serve on the Community Colleges of Spokane’s Board of Trustees by Gov. Jay Inslee. Duncan lives in Spokane Valley with her partner, Sylvia Brown.

Robinson said he heard a need from the community for both Duncan’s expertise and lived experience in a leadership role. As a formerly incarcerated person, Robinson worked to show the community he could grow and become not only a well-respected professional but a leader, he said.

Now, Robinson hopes to help the NAACP move past some of the stigma left by Rachel Dolezal by having a strong Black woman lead, he said.

Dolezal is a former president of the Spokane NAACP who resigned after allegations that she had been posing as a Black woman. Her family from Montana says she is white.

“It makes perfect sense that the next leader, if they are so willing, would be a highly successful, highly intelligent, highly clear and engaged, LGBTQ, openly so, woman of color,” Robinson said.

Positions at the NAACP are on a volunteer basis. Robinson said being president has been more hours than a full-time job, as the organization has worked to meet the growing needs of the community.

Other new leaders in the organization are Le’Taxione, a former gang member turned author and activist. He leads N’STEP, a gang violence prevention program, and is the president of a nonprofit called LETAXIONE INC.

In 2015, his sentence was commuted by Inslee after serving 22 years of a sentence of life without the possibility of parole. Since then, Le’Taxione has been an activist and full-time student.

Le’Taxione will serve as a vice president of the organization.

“The VP position is a good fit for anyone that desires to serve our disenfranchised communities,” Le’Taxione said. “It’s really not about me – it’s about effectively serving the huddled masses.”

Le’Taxione said he is excited to work with Duncan and Robinson as they continue the work started in recent years.

“Our president-elect has vision and ambition, coupled with a deep and authentic love for justice for all people,” Le’Taxione said.

Le’Taxione will serve as one of three vice presidents for the NAACP.

Nikki Jones will be the third vice president. Jones is a “highly driven, highly intelligent” young woman of color, Robinson said.

Stacey Wells will continue to serve as secretary and Elin Zander will be assistant secretary.

Longtime NAACP leader Dorothy Webster will continue to serve as treasurer.

“She is a pillar and fount of knowledge and perspective,” Robinson said. “There really isn’t a word to quantify the value that she has continued to bring to the table.”

The two members at large will be the Rev. Rick Matters and the Rev. Jim CastroLang.

“They are both dedicated to the cause,” Robinson said of the clergymen .

“They are both intentional about the work that they do within their congregations and within their religious field as well as meaningful engagement with the communities that have been negatively generationally impacted, our BIPOC communities.”

As his presidency draws to a close, Robinson said he his honored to have served.

“It has not just been my responsibility; it has been my honor,” Robinson said.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect that Kiantha Duncan moved to Spokane six years ago. Due to an editing error a previous version of this story included an inaccurate spelling of Jim CastroLang’s name. It has since been corrected. 

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