This 1978 file photo shows Ben Chavis, right, speaking at a news conference the day after Gov. Jim Hunt’s decision to reduce the sentences of the Wilmington Ten. Hunt refused to pardon the group. (RALEIGH NEWS & OBSERVER/MCT)
He ought to fit right in.
North Carolina Democrats picked a former convict, sexual predator and former Nation of Islam leader Benjamin Chavis as its executive director.
The Raleigh News and Observer reported:
A day after ousting the executive director, the chairman of the N.C. Democratic Party appears poised to nominate former civil rights and Nation of Islam leader Benjamin Chavis to the post, a contentious pick that may not earn support from party leaders.
Democratic Chairman Randy Voller said Monday he would name an executive director Wednesday who is a “North Carolina native and national leader.” The party’s First Vice Chairwoman Patsy Keever said Voller intends to name Chavis, who also served as executive director of the NAACP before being ousted nearly two decades ago amid a sexual harassment scandal.
“That is Randy’s intention,” she said.
Party attorney David Harris refused to offer details about the announcement. Over the weekend, a Twitter account in Chavis’ name posted: “I am now preparing to return to North Carolina. I want Democrats to win big: 2014 in NC & across America.” Voller promptly re-tweeted it.
Chavis is a longtime civil rights advocate who was jailed for four years in 1970s as a member of the Wilmington 10, a group convicted but later cleared in a fire bombing that spurred a race riot in the city.
He became leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1993 but served less than 17 months after being ousted for striking a secret deal to pay an employee $332,400 to settle her sexual harassment claim.
Chavis, an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ, later converted to Islam, taking the name Benjamin Muhammed. In 1997, he became second-in-command to Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, leading the organization’s East Coast ministry, according to reports at the time.
Three years later, a woman connected to the Nation of Islam alleged in a lawsuit he sexually harassed her. It was settled in 2006, and the woman received $135,000 from the temple. Chavis did not pay any sum to settle the case, and he made no admission of liability.
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