NAACP Suspends Gatewood Despite Denial of Sexual Harassment Allegations
By CASH MICHAELS
The Rev. Curtis Gatewood, publicly accused of sexually harassing a female member of the NC NAACP he was assigned to supervise in 2017, has denied the allegation, while his daughter and members of the Alamance County NAACP have blasted former NC NAACP president Rev. Dr. William Barber, and current NC NAACP leader, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, of orchestrating the controversy a week before the Oct. 5th
election for a new president.
Gatewood was a candidate in that race against Rev. Spearman, until national NAACP President/CEO Derrick Johnson sent him a September 26th letter, formally suspending Gatewood’s membership pending a still as-yet unscheduled hearing.
“You are directed to cease and desist immediately from holding yourself out as a member of the NAACP, Johnson wrote. “Because candidates for State Conference office must be members in good standing of the Association, you are ineligible to run for such office unless and until your membership is restored.
An outraged Desmera Gatewood, Rev. Gatewood’s daughter, held a Sept. 27th press conference, along with members of the Alamance County NAACP, declaring that the sexual harassment allegation against her father are not only not true, but deviously planned to derail Rev. Gatewood’s election to the civil rights organization’s presidency.
An election she said her father was “poised to win.” Adding that she is a victim of sexual harassment and domestic violence, Desmera Gatewood added, “This has been very difficult for me to watch narratives like mine used as political opportunism.”
For his part, Rev. Gatewood told the Associated Press, “The allegations are totally false,” and blamed Rev. Dr. William Barber for orchestrating the controversy to benefit incumbent NC NAACP Pres. Rev. Spearman.
This is the second time in 20 years that Rev. Gatewood has been suspended by the national NAACP. He was sanctioned previously when he was president of the Durham NAACP for involvement in a dispute with then NC NAACP Pres. Melvin “Skip” Alston in the late 1990s.
Gatewood was publicly identified by former NC NAACP Youth & College Director Jazmyne Childs as allegedly sexually harassing her in 2017 as her supervisor. During a tearful September 25th press conference, where she was surrounded by supporters who called themselves the “Elder Women of the NC NAACP,” along with Rev. Barber, Ms. Childs detailed how Gatewood allegedly pressed himself against her from behind in a darkened room, in addition to speaking suggestively to her on the phone on another occasion.
Making clear that Gatewood’s alleged attention was unwanted, she resigned from the civil rights organization. Rev. Barber had her allegations investigated and confirmed by an employment attorney.
Last week, after the national NAACP formally suspended Rev. Gatewood, Ms. Childs, through her attorney, told the Associated Press she called it a “bittersweet victory.”
Unlike Rev. Barber, the national office waited two years before even acknowledging Childs’ complaint, and they only did anything once Ms. Childs’ supporters, the Elder Women of the NC NAACP, made her case public, and threatened to take their fight to national NAACP headquarters in Baltimore, Md.
Contrary to a previously published report, before he could be terminated prior to completion of the five-month-long inquiry, Rev. Gatewood resigned his position with the NCNAACP.