Kenneth L. Huston, president of the NAACP Allegheny East Branch, has been elected president of the NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference, the organization’s highest-ranking position in the state.
Huston, who replaced Blanding Watson, also plans to remain president of NAACP Allegheny East, headquartered in Monroeville.
“I ran for state president because I felt that the NAACP in the state of Pennsylvania needed to be more at the forefront that impacts our communities,” Huston told the New Pittsburgh Courier. “There was a sense of being a socialite organization as opposed to taking on front-and-center the issues our organization has been fighting for over 100 years. This was extremely alarming to me and I felt as a state we were not aggressive enough about the issues that impact us. The NAACP should always be front-and-center on issues of civil and human rights and never should be ‘Johnny come lately’ to stand for the rights of our people — never.”
Huston is one of two officers representing Western Pennsylvania on the NAACP Pennsylvania state level. Phyllis Waller is serving as third vice president from the Washington County Branch. Huston told the Courier his election to the presidency marks the first time in roughly 20 years an NAACP Pennsylvania president has come from Western Pennsylvania.
As president, Huston will oversee the 44 branches in the state and the more than 17,000 state-wide members. “I must travel throughout the commonwealth, meet with the governor and state officials as well as have a clear message as to what is impacting our communities,” he said. “I am responsible to ensure that the Pennsylvania state NAACP is strong. And I intend to do just that with our great presidents and state leadership.”
On a national level, the NAACP has six “Game Changers” that are the primary focus of the 110-year-old organization in today’s climate: economic sustainability (a chance to live the American Dream for all), education (a free, high-quality public education for all), health (health equality for all Americans including a healthy life and high-quality health care), public safety and criminal justice (equitable dispensation of justice for all), voting rights and political representation (protect and enhance voting rights and fair representation), and expanding youth and young adult engagement.
Huston said that from his perspective, the primary role of the NAACP on a state level is “to fight for justice with more effective outcomes. People are asking, ‘Well, what does the NAACP do?’ And that is extremely troubling to me, because we do a whole lot and the work we do should be understood with clarity. I believe we are about to experience one of the most hateful and fear-torn elections in over 50 years or more and the NAACP has to be armed to fight for the rights of our people, and that is on several fronts — economically, education, all the issues that we know are still very much an issue. We must be prepared with clear outcomes to our work.”
The New Pittsburgh Courier