Philly’s Political Elders Lament the Lack of Millennials Running for Office

Photo by Bradley Maule

Photo by Bradley Maule

Mayor Michael Nutter is in that glorious final phase of his tenure where he’s calling things exactly as he sees them. With seven weeks left in office and very little to lose, he’s taking on everyone from mega-restaurateur Stephen Starr to elections chief Anthony Clark to the School Reform Commission.

One of his most intriguing targets has been millennials. Over the last few months, he’s been shouting from the rooftops that too few young people are running for elected office in Philadelphia. “Where are younger people?” he asked at Philly Mag’s ThinkFest last week. “Are they even thinking about running for office?”

He’s even gotten mean about it: “I’m increasingly concerned that many young people are just finding other avenues. And, you know, having 9 million followers on Twitter is not your level of political engagement.” Read more »

Hundreds Celebrate Jerry Mondesire’s Life

President of the Pennsylvania NAACP, Jerome Mondesire, left addresses the media at a news conference announcing Federal Lawsuit against the Lebanon, Pa School District Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 in Lebanon, Pa. At right is attorney Michael Churchill of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia which is also named in the suit. (AP Photos/Bradley C Bower)

Jerry Mondesire | Photo by Bradley C. Bower/AP

A power-packed crowd of hundreds, including Mayor Michael Nutter, former Gov. Ed Rendell and likely next mayor Jim Kenney, said goodbye to Jerry Mondesire at Bright Hope Baptist Church on Wednesday. Mondesire died on October 4th after suffering a brain aneurysm.

Throughout the two-and-a-half-hour-long funeral service, family members, friends and dignitaries paid tribute to the longtime president of the Philadelphia NAACP. They described Mondesire as a tough-as-nails advocate for African-Americans and low-income residents. They said he was brutally honest, highly intelligent, and known for occasionally using a four-letter word to get his point across.

“He fought for the most basic right that all of us have, and that is the the right to vote,” said Rev. William Moore. “He was a voice for children who wanted to get an education.”

Several politicians also said Mondesire played a key role in their personal success. “I am who I am today because of Jerry Mondesire,” said District Attorney Seth Williams.

Mondesire got involved in politics early, pushing for the City College of New York to accept more students of color while he was enrolled. Later, he served as the assistant city desk editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer, editor-in-chief of the Philadelphia Sunday SUN, and co-founder of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. He also worked as a top aide to the late U.S. Congressman William Gray, battled fiercely against Pennsylvania’s voter ID law, and has been credited with helping to grow the local NACCP chapter’s membership rolls. Read more »

Remembering Philadelphia NAACP Leader Jerry Mondesire

President of the Pennsylvania NAACP, Jerome Mondesire, left addresses the media at a news conference announcing Federal Lawsuit against the Lebanon, Pa School District Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 in Lebanon, Pa. At right is attorney Michael Churchill of the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia which is also named in the suit. (AP Photos/Bradley C Bower)

Jerry Mondesire | Photo by Bradley C. Bower/AP

When the NAACP brought its 106th Annual Convention to Philadelphia this summer, the cloud of controversy regarding the regional chapter was ever-present — and reluctantly discussed. For 17 years, J. Whyatt “Jerry” Mondesire served as president of the Philadelphia branch of the NAACP, and his removal months earlier from the position for alleged financial impropriety presented a public relations problem for the civil rights organization. When Mondesire died six days shy of his 66th birthday, questions of his impact on the future of Philadelphia’s community abounded. Read more »

What They’re Saying About Jerry Mondesire

President of the NAACP's state conference, J. Wyatt Mondesire, middle, speaks to people gathered to demonstrate the opposition of Pennsylvania's new voter identification law during the NAACP voter ID rally, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012, in Philadelphia. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court justices are scheduled to hear arguments over whether a new law requiring each voter to show valid photo identification poses an unnecessary threat to the right to vote. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)

J. Whyatt Mondesire, middle, is seen in 2012 speaking to people gathered to demonstrate the opposition of Pennsylvania’s voter identification law at an NAACP rally. The law has since been struck down. | Photo by Michael Perez/AP

This morning, we reported that longtime Philadelphia NAACP leader J. Whyatt “Jerry” Mondesire died Sunday night at age 65. He reportedly suffered a brain aneurysm while undergoing dialysis last week. Mondesire served as an editor for the Philadelphia Inquirer, publisher of the Philadelphia Sun, and head of the local NAACP chapter from 1991 to 2014. Here’s what officials and community leaders are saying about Mondesire:
Read more »

Ejected Philly NAACP Leader Jerry Mondesire Feted on Eve of National Convention

Jerry Mondesire via NAACP.

Jerry Mondesire via NAACP.

The 106th NAACP National Convention is now in full swing at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, with President Barack Obama and Bill Clinton scheduled to address the thousands in attendance this week. But one man who was involved in bringing the NAACP National Convention to Philadelphia is absent from the lineup of confirmed guests and speakers: Jerry Mondesire, the former head of the Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP. Read more »

NAACP Suspends Philly Chapter Officers

The Philadelphia Tribune’s Johann Calhoun reports the national office of the NAACP has suspended four officers involved in a dispute over money. The NAACP suspended local chapter president Jerome “Jerry” Mondesire, Donald “Ducky” Birts, the Rev. Elisha Morris and Sid Booker. You have to enjoy a scandal that includes a guy with the nickname “Ducky.”

At issue: Birts, Morris and Booker — longtime Mondesire pals who were below him in the local chapter’s hierarchy — didn’t like the way Mondesire managed a certain amount of money. (In the Daily News earlier this week, Stu Bykofsky wrote that the NAACP’s financial situation is “precarious.”) After the three look leaves of absence, Mondesire fired them.

Read more »