Albuquerque Journal

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) _ Since Tuesday, a familiar face has taken over as head of the Albuquerque’s chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Harold Bailey, who led the organization from 2000 to 2003 before he was tapped to serve in then-Gov. Bill Richardson’s cabinet, is resuming the job of NAACP president.

Bailey, who has a long history in education and as an advocate for racial equality, said his key message will be that the NAACP is not just about black issues. He said he is committed to advocating for all ethnicities, women and other historically disenfranchised groups.

“One of the initiatives I want to implement is to establish partnerships and coalitions with other groups,” Bailey said during a recent interview. “We’re all adversely affected by a lot of problems: the achievement gap, the incarceration rate. We need to develop a collective strategy, as opposed to individual groups doing their own thing.”

Bailey’s background is heavy on education, which he said will be one of his priorities. He worked for decades as a special education teacher in Albuquerque Public Schools and also taught at the University of New Mexico, where he was director of African-American studies from 1975 to 1980.

Bailey said he will advocate for more blacks to hold tenure-track positions at local universities, as well as for colleges and universities to do more to recruit and retain black students. He said he also would like to see more black leaders in public schools to provide students with role models who look like them.

He did not say he would advocate new policies. Instead, Bailey said he wants institutions to follow the spirit of existing policies and laws.

“There are a lot of good laws on the books,” he said. “We just need to enforce them.”

Bailey said he also plans to work on alleviating poverty, which is linked to many problems in education and other areas he plans to tackle, such as high rates of incarceration and access to health care.

“A lot of minority students and students in general _ I like to just talk about students, not black or Hispanic _ can’t function well if they’re hungry,” Bailey said. “I think we need to come up with a plan, so we have to find a way to employ people, train the students before they get out so they’ll be able to get a job. .. A lot of these issues we’re talking about, it’s going to take us working in unison _ city, county, state, churches, business.”

Other issues on Bailey’s agenda are voter registration, empowering youths, caring for seniors and veterans, safeguarding civil rights and re-integrating black prisoners who are released.

Bailey was coy about whether the NAACP would back any specific bills during the upcoming legislative session, saying only that the organization will be involved during the session.

“We will be active, we’ll be on the watch,” he said. “There are a lot of programs statewide. We are concerned about funding in regard to African-American programs for youth and community outreach programs. So we want to just see, to work with our Legislature to see what’s available.”


Information from: Albuquerque Journal,