Fairfax NAACP president steps down

Annan speaking at microphone
Kofi Annan, right, speaks at the July 9 community meeting at the Gum Springs Community Center.

Kofi Annan announced Sunday night that he is resigning as the head of the Fairfax County NAACP.

Annan, who had been president of the Fairfax County chapter since 2016, cited disillusionment with the direction of the NAACP and a desire to spend more time with his family as his reasons for stepping down.

“While many NAACP members are dedicated to promoting equity, unfortunately I no longer believe the overall organizational culture of the NAACP prioritizes this goal,” Annan said in a Facebook post. “Instead, much of the organization has punted on its responsibility to conduct true independent advocacy, and chosen to focus on partisan get-out-the-vote efforts, or content to rubber-stamp policies along partisan lines — even when these efforts undermine the NAACP’s mission.”

Annan’s resignation comes days after The Washington Post reported that he had been critical of his predecessor as president of the Fairfax County NAACP, Shirley Ginwright, in a series of texts and Facebook posts. The friction between the two included a text message sent by Annan that called Ginwright a variation of the n-word, the Post reported. Ginwright reportedly hired an attorney who filed a cease-and-desist letter, and Annan apologized to Ginwright in an email, the Post reported. .

Some of the ill will between Annan and Ginwright stemmed from the aftermath of a three shootings in the Richmond Highway area in early July, which were followed by a heated community meeting at the Gum Springs Community Center. Both Annan and Ginwright spoke at the meeting, with Annan saying that more policing in Gum Springs would have negative consequences for the community in the long-term. He also implored Fairfax County Police Chief Edwin Roessler to listen more to the community members who were upset by the police’s characterizations of the shootings as “gang-related.”

Annan thanked Roessler in his Facebook post for working with him despite their disagreements. He also singled out Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova and Mount Vernon school board representivie Karen Corbett Sanders for their efforts to work the the Fairfax NAACP.

“Chairwoman Bulova, Supervisor Foust, Chairwoman Karen Corbet Sanders, and all of the elected officials, thank you for your patience and cooperation,” Annan wrote. “I know I was not always easy to deal with, and I’m very aware that my approach was unlike my predecessors. Chief Roessler, I appreciate your cooperation as well. While we rarely saw eye to eye, I hope you and your officers understand that I value their role, and appreciate their service to our community.”

During his time as president of the NAACP, Annan had advocated for the renaming of JEB Stuart High School in Falls Church and pushed for police reform. He was also critical of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam for not resigning after a picture in his medical school yearbook showed a man in blackface standing next to a man in a KKK outfit. Annan and the Fairfax County NAACP protested at an April fundraiser that Northam had planned to attend before dropping out at the last minute.

Under Annan, the Fairfax County NAACP was a recipient of the national organization’s Thalheimer Award, which honors individual branches for their achievements.

In his resignation post, Annan apologized to NAACP members for leaving abruptly, but said he will remain active in the community. He noted that there is “tons of unfinished” work left in the fight for equity.

“[T]he reality is that the work will never be done in our lifetimes,” Annan wrote. “The inequities we face today are result of centuries of racism, and likewise the solutions will take generations as well.”