EAST ST. LOUIS — For 32 years Johnny Scott has been the face of the NAACP in the metro-east, but he said it's time for a new, younger face with fresh ideas.
On Saturday Scott will end his tenure as president of the local chapter and hand the challenge to Stanley Franklin. Franklin is a local businessman who for the past three years has been working with Scott to prepare for the job, Scott said.
"This position is not mine forever, to have until I cross over Jordan," Scott said. "The NAACP has to stay alive. To do this you have to have new blood with new ideas."
Scott, who is 79, said he will serve as president emeritus to assist Franklin until Franklin says he is ready to go it alone.
Franklin is 50, has a master's of business arts and is president and owner of S. W. Franklin Group. His company manages renovations and real estate investments and oversees contract work.
Franklin's role as an NAACP member grew in the past three years. He played a major role in fundraising for the annual NAACP Freedom Fund banquet and served as its co-chair, plus chaired an NAACP committee that pulled together military representatives and gave the most recent banquet its theme, said Charlotte Ottley, executive producer of the banquet.
The local NAACP president is active as a mediator, mostly in racial disputes but not exclusively. Scott played a role in the U.S. Department of Justice's settlement with the city of Belleville over racial bias in hiring, has participated in sensitivity training for local police and mediated disputes that ranged from racial epithets being used in public to being the local group's spokesman on issues from cross burnings to state control of East St. Louis schools.
Scott said he has kept the NAACP office open to the public eight hours a day, six days a week. He laughed and said, "That was Johnny Scott. But, Franklin probably won't have the same office hours."
The office for the near future will remain at 2149 Missouri Ave. in East St. Louis, which is also the office for Scott's bookkeeping business. Scott is also a minister.
"But when Stan gets his office ready and wants to move the office to a new location, we will let the public know," Scott said.
Franklin owns office space out of which he intends to operate the NAACP at 4601 State St. in East St. Louis.
Scott said that when he took the job as president, he did not plan to be in it for a year.
"I told them to get a president because I didn't have the time," Scott said. "This was not my type of work. But I have been here 32 years."
Scott said he owes a great deal of gratitude to his wife, Gretta Scott.
"Whatever I have needed her to do, she has been here to do. I am very grateful to her for all she has done," Scott said.
Scott said he feels new leadership will bring about new ideas. He said the No. 1 goal for the organization is to recognize that "the charge for the NAACP must be so strong in numbers and so effective in methodology that no one -- no inner city mayor, no governor of any state, no chairman of any party, no president of the United States and no former ambassador will dare to commit any indignities against people of color without realizing that the NAACP will challenge on the platform, in the press, in the courts, in the streets and at the ballot box."
The new president reflects Scott's mission in recent years to bring younger people into the NAACP, Ottley said.
"He has brought back past members from throughout the region and recruited more young people, too," Ottley said. "He's been working on this success even in recruiting me. His whole goal was to ensure sustainability and to grow memberships to complement the long-term and faithful members of the organization who have had memberships for many, many years."
The transition to a new president will be part of a ceremony at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the New Life Community Center, 1919 State St. in East St. Louis. New board members will also be installed, including: Ottley; Erin Kern, wife of St. Clair County Board Chairman Mark Kern; the Rev. Kendall Granger; Bishop William Scott; Richard Mark, vice president of Ameren UE; and Ranadore Foggs, a former East St. Louis police chief. Former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Milton Wharton will serve as first vice president.
"We have a host of good folks on the board and they are ready to do good things," Scott said.