By: Margo McKenzie
On Tuesday, April 30, at the conclusion of a meeting at the Central Brooklyn Chapter of the National Action Network (“NAN”), Rev. Adolphus C. Lacey, pastor of Bethany Baptist Church, was unanimously confirmed as its President and Dr. Jacqueline Cody as Vice President. The chapter will officially relaunch under its new leadership at the next general meeting on May 28 at 6pm at Bethany Baptist Church.
To establish priorities, Central Brooklyn will first sit down with the leadership of NAN to make sure they implement required initiatives. Lacey then expects his chapter to get out into the community to determine additional local issues. He will continue distributing baskets and toiletries at the shelters and “fighting root causes of inequities in our communities.” One local major concern is “open-air prisons.” Police set up camp and watch and listen to an unwitting public. He admits other issues have already been identified such as mental health, homelessness, participation in the political process, the census and traffic. If he finds nothing new, “that’s fine.” He will partner with organizations which may already address identified concerns.
“After priorities are established, after we know who we are, we will work on establishing a Central Brooklyn online presence with Instagram and Facebook,” said Lacey.
Field Director Derek Perkinson from NAN’s National Headquarters, who ran the meeting of roughly 30 attendees, by Lacey’s estimate, has plans to begin a few initiatives that he would like to see replicated locally. Many people have money problems, and he hopes to address them with workshops on financial literacy–getting out of debt, establishing credit and starting a business. He also wants to get the millennials to take a break from their phones and participate in reading a common book. Then there’s the mental health crisis. He strongly believes an eight-hour certified mental health course to educate the public will put a dent in drug addiction and other social issues.
Outgoing President James McDougal recognized that the first years can be rough. “Crisis response, one of the mandated committees for all chapters, was busy back then,” he said, “up to ten calls a day.” He vividly recalled his chapter intervening on behalf of a high school student who was wrongfully accused of stealing a cell phone. “We had to get him out of jail.” In another case, “a young lady was mistreated by a shop owner at Fulton St. and Washington Avenue and she wanted us to host a protest. We gathered up all the bodies and allies and at the last minute, she decided not to do it. Ninety percent of our calls fizzled out in some way, but you had to address it. Especially in the summer when we get calls about people being shot, and we ended up sitting in the hospital all night.”
“Central Brooklyn—it’s a new day!” said Perkinson. He is excited about one recent development. He has reduced the number of Brooklyn chapters to “three strong chapters” by merging the Brooklyn East Chapter with its East Flatbush affiliate. The new president will be revealed in early June.
About thirty old and new members were present for the Central Brooklyn meeting. Among them was Temeshia Frooks, who learned a lot during the meeting. “Perkinson was clear,” she said. “He explained how NAN works. Anyone could start a chapter in their neighborhood. It’s not restricted.” Priscilla Diaz, another participant, added, “In order to correct inequities in society, you need a platform such as this to communicate. I think it’s a wonderful way to make the community better.”
“I’m honored to be a part of the chapter. I believe our chapter will make a difference,” says Lacey.