WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) An openly gay man was elected president this weekend of the Worcester chapter of the NAACP as the local group seeks to revive itself following five years of inactivity.
Ravi Perry, 28, a political science professor at Clark University, won an unopposed race and was chosen with a slate of new officers. After being elected, Perry said he hoped that as an openly gay man he can help the storied civil rights group address long-ignored gay and lesbian issues in minority communities.
I think for the NAACP to be alive and effective, it has to retool,” said Perry, who begins a two-year term. “This is a human rights organization and we need to address the needs of all marginalized groups.”
Perry said he believed only a handful of NAACP chapter presidents nationally are openly gay. A spokeswoman for the NAACP said the group does not keep track of how many chapter presidents are gay and did not have any statistics.
Perry also said that most on the newly elected Worcester board are in their 40s, a generational shift within the NAACP that also is occurring nationally.
Perry’s election marks the second time a Massachusetts NAACP chapter elected a young candidate to revive a local group. In November, 42-year-old attorney Michael Curry was elected over 73-year-old ex-State Senator Bill Owens to lead a long dormant Boston chapter.
Perry said in the coming months the Worcester chapter hopes to highlight the lack of minority elected officials in the city. Around a third of the city’s residents are minorities, but the all members of the Worcester’s 12-member city council are white.