After five years of active involvement in the Nashville Branch, Dr. Tallulah Crawley-Shinault is determined to “take a bold stand to get the Nashville NAACP back on solid ground.” She is running against Mr. Ludye Wallace who is a well-known politician and figure in the Nashville community. She thought it was important that the readers of the Nashville Pride get to know who she is. Shinault visited the Pride to answer a few of my questions about her background and plans if she wins the election.
What’s your background with the NAACP?
“I guess I would have to go back to when I was young in the ‘60s when I first heard about the NAACP and Avon Williams led the movement for social justice,” said Dr. Crawley-Shinault. “As a young child I experienced or at least witnessed how powerful the NAACP was. I always admired the NAACP and thought it was needed in our community.
“I graduated from Cameron High School, went on to receive my bachelors degree from Spellman College and my doctorate from Illinois State University. I also attended the clinical psychology joint program with Fisk University and Meharry Medical College and earned my 30 hours of master’s work there.
“I left Nashville and returned five years ago and immediately joined the Nashville branch of the NAACP where I became an active member. I was an education chair on the executive committee and then I took on the position of assistant branch secretary. Last two years, I was the branch secretary of the NAACP.
“And as in terms of my experiences in the NAACP, I planned and facilitated a number of forums. I facilitated one at Fisk University on gentrification about five years ago. It was huge. I had professors from Tennessee State University, Fisk University and Vanderbilt. I had Ed Kindle who wrote a book on Jefferson Street and the director of planning. The whole purpose of the forum was to show that we could revitalize Nashville and it could be a win-win situation for the community as well as the developers. That has really not been the case. I think what will have to happen is that the Black businesses on Jefferson Street and in Nashville will have to be given a seat at the table to help plan and to make sure that we preserve the historic integrity of the Black community as well as the White. And it’s not difficult to do as long as we’re all at the table and our voices are heard.”
What are your plans for the NAACP?
“My main objective is to change the image and the function of the NAACP,” said Crawley-Shinault, “to make it more open to the community. It is to take a stand for the NAACP and get it back on solid ground. When I say solid ground, I mean in terms of realignment with the mission of the NAACP. To build up it’s resources, not only human resources but financial resources—in other words, to grow the membership. To have an open, consistent and reliable channel of communication with the community. To have regular press conferences, to develop a newsletter, to develop an NAACP radio, program, a television public access programs for youth.
“Another thing that is very important that I propose to do is to activate all of our standing committees. We have committees that would basically address every issue in the nation. The problem is that they are not functional. And that was one of my responsibilities as branch secretary.
“In order to grow those committees it takes the president to appoint the people on those committees.—addressing the needs of the community and leading the fight for social justice
“The community needs to know we are there to support them. We are there to effect change in a good way. The revitalization of Nashville can be a positive thing. The ‘it’ city needs to be the ‘it’ city for everybody.
“One of my goals would be to invite, to open the doors to all members, show them by example that the NAACP has realigned itself with the mission. We’re about social justice and addressing the need of the community. And we need their active participation.
If elected, what would be your first order of business?
“One of my first orders of business would be to sponsor a New Year celebration,” said Crawley-Shinault. “It would be an NAACP New Year celebration, open to the public. I would introduce the elected officials of the NAACP. I would also discuss what our goals and objectives are for the New Year—who we are, what we plan to do, why we plan to do those things and how we plan to do them; as well as open up the NAACP for their membership; and to ask them to join the NAACP as well. It would be to open the doors of the NAACP to the community basically, and I would do that New Years Eve. After which we would celebrate the incoming year.”
What motivates you?
“I have a fire burning inside of me for social justice and equal opportunity for all children,” said Crawley-Shinault. “I have a fire burning in me for justice, fairness and equality. I love all people and I particularly love African Americans because we have experienced a journey that no other group or race of people have ever had to endure. We’re not there yet, and I won’t stop having the passion and that fire burning until we have achieved equality in this country—our God given right. ‘It’s not about race, it’s about right’—that quote came from Deacon Ralph at True Vine Baptist Church, in East Nashville.”
When are elections?
“The NAACP elections will take place November 17,” said Crawley-Shinault. “In order to vote, you must be in good standing as term, as financial. Those who are not members need to be members 30 days prior to the election. I’m hoping that life members and newly registered members will vote. What I would like to see is the Nashville Pride and other Black press hold a forum because I believe the leadership for the NAACP is as important to our community as the leadership for the city. I would like for people to make an informed choice. It shouldn’t be a door that opens for anyone without a presentation of your platform. We must be accountable to the community—and that is something that needs to be built within the NAACP and the community. Give the branch another chance.”