FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
27 March 2013
For More Information: Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, President, 919-394-8137
Mrs. Amina J. Turner, Executive Director, 919-682-4700
Atty. Jamie Phillips, Public Policy Coordinator, 919-682-4700
For Media Assistance: Rob Stephens, Field Secretary, 336-577-9335
NC NAACP RESPONDS TO NORTH CAROLINA’S EASTERN DISTRICT HISTORIC COURT VACANCY AND THE OVER 200 YEAR DENIAL OF AN AFRICAN AMERICAN JUDGE
NC NAACP to hold News Conference Outside Senator Richard Burr’s Office
ROCKY MOUNT – The North Carolina NAACP will join the Rocky Mount Branch of the NAACP on Wednesday to hold a news conference outside the office of U.S. Senator Richard Burr. There has never been, in the history of North Carolina, an African-American appointed as Judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina. The Eastern District of North Carolina is where the highest concentration of African Americans reside.
The news conference will take place on Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 10:00 AM at 100 Coast Line Street, Rocky Mount, NC 27804.
The NC NAACP has sent three separate certified letters to Senator Burr in the past year asking for a meeting without success. Despite this road block, the North Carolina NAACP will continue its efforts to obtain the appointment of a qualified African-American in a judicial district that has had a vacancy for the past seven years.
Below find an open letter to Senator Burr in anticipation of today’s news conference.
27 March 2013
Senator Richard Burr
217 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Re: U.S. District Court Judge Vacancy in the 44-county Eastern District of North Carolina
Dear Senator Burr:
As you are well aware, in the history of North Carolina no African-American has ever been appointed as Judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina where the largest concentration of African-Americans in North Carolina reside. Typically the President depends on a joint recommendation from the Senators of the affected state. Senator, you and Senator Hagan should submit a joint list of several African-Americans who could serve on the District Court bench. If that fails, President Obama should take the initiative to nominate someone to fill the vacancy. The North Carolina NAACP is prepared to present, directly to the President of the United States, a list of highly qualified individuals who are of the caliber of candidates you could have presented yourself. These individuals have deep roots in the East and should be considered to rectify this historic denial.
During the past five years, the North Carolina NAACP has sought to meet with you, our elected Senator, in an attempt to obtain the appointment of an African-American Judge in this Judicial District. We were painfully aware of the successful efforts which were manufactured by former Senator Jessie Helms to prevent qualified African-Americans from being appointed to this position. While he was alive, Helms used every political ploy imaginable to insure that those exceptionally well qualified African-Americans who were suggested for appointment were never given an opportunity to be voted upon.
In light of that history, we sought to meet with you and Senator Kay Hagan to discuss this issue and press our resolve that an African-American must be appointed to serve as a Judge on this Court. We were encouraged that Senator Hagan met with us, expressed her concerns and agreed to consider a list of qualified candidates and articulate this concern to President Barack Obama.
On the other hand, Senator Burr, you have refused to meet with us or to discuss our concerns in any manner. Over the past year, we have sent three separate letters to you requesting a meeting and you have not responded positively to those requests.
The North Carolina NAACP will continue our efforts to obtain the appointment of a qualified African-American in a judicial district that has had a vacancy for over seven years. In fact, a judicial emergency exists in this district as cases are delayed and justice denied to citizens because of this vacancy. The vacancy in North Carolina has existed longer than any other judicial vacancy in the United States.
It is time for the President to appoint someone to this position. Senator Burr, like your predecessor Jessie Helms, you are standing in the way of the appointment of an African-American to this position. Only whites have been appointed to serve as judges on the Eastern District of North Carolina Court and the continued intentional exclusions of qualified African-Americans from this position will not be tolerated. Thus, we will continue to loudly raise our voice in support of this appointment. While we continue to call on you to join in this effort, we will not be deterred by your refusal to meet with us or support our efforts. We will carry our demands directly to President Barack Obama.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President, NC NAACP
CC: Mrs. Amina J. Turner, NC NAACP Executive Director
Ms. Carolyn Q. Coleman, 1st Vice President
Ms. Corolyn McDougal, 2nd Vice President
Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, 3rd Vice President
Mr. Courtney Patterson, 4th Vice President
NC NAACP Legal Team
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.