A group of NAACP women have banded together to demand action from the national civil rights organization after a former North Carolina Youth Director claims she was sexually harassed by one of its longtime state leaders.
According to US News & World Report, women from several North Carolina chapters plan to head to the national headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland, to speak with NAACP national president Derrick Johnson and request that the accused be permanently removed from membership.
The accusation stems from Jazmyne Childs, who says she was sexually harassed by Rev. Curtis Gatewood, a candidate for president of the North Carolina NAACP state chapter. On Wednesday Childs held a public news conference flanked by supporting NAACP members.
In 2017 Childs says she was preparing for another member’s surprise celebration when she felt Gatewood’s breath on her neck as he pressed his penis against her backside. At the time of the reported incident, Gatewood served as Childs’ supervisor.
“I yelled loudly,” Childs said. “Why are you hovering over me? That’s gross. Move! He claimed he was looking for a receipt and then stormed out. I stood there feeling violated, ashamed and scared.”
Gatewood was formerly the president of the Durham County and Alamance County NAACP chapters and helped coordinate the Historic Thousands on Jones Street rally, which recently took place in January.
After a formal investigation was launched Gatewood resigned from his position, but still holds active membership in the organization which affords him the opportunity to run for office. The state chapter election will be held on October 5.
Childs believes her accusations have not been taken seriously at the national level and hopes her standing before a public audience will make the alleged harassment more visible.
“This is the most difficult thing that I have ever had to deal with. First, I was violated by Rev. Gatewood and then violated by the national NAACP,” Childs said during the conference.
Gatewood released a statement obtained by WTVD where he denies Childs’ accusations and states that he will remain in the election race.
“I have never sexually harassed anyone. I have a long history of working professionally in the workplace,” the statement reads. “I have been one of the NC NAACP’s most consistent male advocates for women within the workplace, within the NAACP, and throughout our society. I will humbly stay the course.”
According to WTVD, the national chapter has yet to comment on the matter.