WILKES-BARRE — After nine terms, Ronald L. Felton sees his role as president of the Wilkes-Barre branch of the NAACP drawing toward a close, but not his involvement in community affairs.
Felton, 60, said Friday he plans to seek Democratic endorsement to run for a seat on the Wilkes-Barre Area School Board in 2015, after he hands over the reins at the NAACP.
“I feel this is something I must do,” said Felton, who in September addressed the school board calling for more minority teachers in the increasingly diverse district.
Felton said he and other NAACP officials have had productive talks with district leaders about the needs of minority students, but also feels that he can make a positive contribution as a member of the board.
Friday’s announcement — which echoed remarks Felton made during an NAACP banquet last month — wasn’t just about Felton’s political future, however.
In heralding his decision not to run for another two-year term of office at the NAACP when his current term ends, Felton also shared his thoughts about the future of the organization he will have led for 18 years when his term ends.
While NAACP members will ultimately choose a successor, Felton said he plans to endorse first Vice President Larry Singleton, “who has been with me since I first began this journey,” to serve as the chapter’s next president. The group has about 100 active members, Felton said.
In his statement, Felton shared memories of key events during his time at the NAACP’s helm, from work on behalf of victims of racial profiling to working with families whose children were caught up in Luzerne County’s “Kids for Cash” judicial scandal.
When Felton appeared at a school board meeting three months ago, he cited publicly available statistics showing that while minority students — including blacks, Hispanics, Asians and mixed-race youth — make up 45 percent of the district’s population, at 3,100 pupils, there were only six minority teachers in the district, and none were men.
He also said his concern was about providing role models who can help minority students perform better, not merely boosting numbers.
“I don’t want an unqualified minority teacher teaching my child any more than I would want an unqualified white teacher teaching my child,” Felton said in September.
Felton said Friday that he has been “greatly encouraged” by talks with the district since then.
In the meanwhile, Felton said he remains actively involved in NAACP work. One project he is working on is a White House field trip for local young people, which he hopes will become a reality sometime next year or early in 2015.
Whatever the future holds, Felton said he hopes his involvement in local affairs will encourage other members of minority communities to take part in politics.
“We must all stand up for something, or else we will lie down for anything,” Felton said.