County branch of the NAACP plans to hand over the reins to a successor over the next year or so.
Guy Djoken, who has been president of the local branch of the NAACP for the past eight years, said he plans to continue his work with Frederick-based UNESCO Center for Peace and as chairman of the U.S. national commission for UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations. These positions have taken him throughout the world, where he establishes partnerships with sister schools and universities, as well as seeking to establish business relationships with foreigners and Maryland companies.
“I’ll still be active on the world stage,” he said.
Djoken said he plans to nominate new NAACP member Dwight Palmer as vice president at an NAACP meeting later this week. Palmer could also become the local branch’s acting president, Djoken said.
Palmer said he got involved with the NAACP for the first time this year after his volunteer work for President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign.
“I thought it was time to give back to the community I grew up in,” he said.
A government contractor, Palmer said one of his overarching goals for the organization would be to build up its membership and have it become more active in the community. His first big event will be to host a Freedom Fund banquet and NAACP fundraising effort in April that will honor some local pastors, Palmer said.
“The ones that have been out there helping change the community in Frederick,” he said.
Meanwhile, Djoken said he still plans to advise the local and state NAACP when he is in town.
“I’ll provide my guidance and support through the transition,” he said.
NAACP past and future
Today’s NAACP no longer has to tackle issues of outright discrimination as it did when a local branch opened in Frederick County in the 1930s.
“There are still some people who want to turn back the clock,” Djoken said. “But it’s really a minority.”
Much of the real or perceived discrimination and at times miscommunication and misunderstandings that the organization deals with happen at a subtle level, he said.
People still call his office to report discrimination in the workplace or during traffic stops by police, Djoken said.
Part of his approach toward dealing with such issues through the years has been to be proactive, he said.
The NAACP has worked with the city of Frederick, for example, to educate managers and workers at various companies about discrimination and violence in the workplace in an effort to head it off before it happens.
Also, Latinos believe they are experiencing discrimination in the wake of the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office 287(g) program, which gives local law enforcement some powers to enforce federal immigration law.
Djoken and other members of the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other advocates recently met with U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin and called for an end to the 287(g) program in Frederick County and across the country. The issue will remain a priority in the months to come, he said.
Another priority will be to continue to organize the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, in which local students and others spend their day off helping others in the community.