By DIEGO JESUS BARTESAGHI MENA
bartesaghi@montclairlocal.news

Roger Terry has been named the new president of the Montclair NAACP, replacing Albert Pelham, the lifelong community leader who died in August

“It’s with a heavy heart that I assume my new role as president of the Montclair chapter of the NAACP,” Terry said at the group’s Thursday, Sept. 23 meeting, held online. His comments were reflected in the meeting’s agenda as well. “While no one can replace the leadership of Mr. Pelham, we can honor his legacy by recommitting ourselves to the fight for civil rights and social justice.” 

Terry had served as the chapter’s first vice president before taking on the new role at the meeting. James E. Harris, who had been second vice president, became first vice president. Rosita Dotson, who had been third vice president, became second vice president. A new third vice president will be appointed in the coming days.

Terry said he will meet with NAACP committee chairs and members as well as with community leaders — as Pelham had done during his leadership — to learn more about the issues, concerns and activities that are important to them.

“I will be incorporating these ideas and concerns into the agenda for the chapter for the rest of this year and beyond,” Terry said at the meeting. “My promise to the members and the Montclair community is that we will continue to be the prominent advocate for civil rights, social justice and community action for the greater Montclair community.” 

More than $3,500 in funds have been raised so far to support the Albert Pelham Scholarship Fund, created by the Montclair African-American Heritage Foundation (where Pelham was co-chair), members said at the meeting. The fund will help support after-school programs and activities Pelham created. A link to submit donations remains at montclairnaacp.org.

The distribution of the funds will be announced in the upcoming weeks, Diane Anglin, the chapter’s Education Committee chair, said.

The Montclair chapter has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the Enterprise Foundation to support educational programs, according to a report from the chapter’s Economic Development Committee. Pelham had started the process to pursue the grant over the summer, it said.

The NAACP’s Education Committee will host an employment symposium in October, Anglin said. The symposium will help young adults to find employment for next summer through Montclair’s Recreation and Cultural Affairs department, local pools and summer camps that have seen a decrease in staff this past year, she said.

In October, there will be activities for Dyslexia Awareness and Literacy Month, Anglin said. According to the Education Committee report, those will include creation of a myth-busting poster about dyslexia, social media posts and an inspirational talk with guest panelists via Zoom. The committee will also look to highlight dyslexia as a civil rights issue, and will seek to partner with other community organizations, the report said. Anglin said more details would be unveiled in the coming days.

Multiple NAACP leaders said more recruitment is needed to fill positions in the chapter’s committees; Harris and others advocated for involving more young people. He said there are currently some inactive committees because of lack of involvement, including the Veterans Affairs and Next Gen committees.

Terry also said the Montclair NAACP will likely take a position and plan activities in the coming days in support of Haitian migrants seeking entry and asylum at the U.S. border. Multiple attendees of the meeting said at the meeting or in its accompanying chat that they supported action. At the end of the meeting, a member was seen flying the Haitian flag as well.