A member of a political action committee that has endorsed the Montgomery County school board majority was accused yesterday of wrongly identifying himself as a member of the NAACP and a one-time assistant to former D.C. mayor Walter Washington.
Roscoe Nix, president of the Montgomery chapter of the NAACP, charged yesterday that Clarence E. Henson, a member of the executive committee of the Montgomery Citizens for Serious Education, was not a member of a local NAACP organization and that he could find no record of Henson ever working for the former mayor, even though the coalition's letterhead listed him as such. Nix demanded that the NAACP affiliation be removed from the coalition's letterhead.
Henson, who is a counselor at Fairland Elementary School in Silver Spring, declined to answer questions about his affiliation with any group or his employment.
Henson's affiliations have become an issue in a campaign where the current board majority's record on race relations has been criticized. The coalition was formed last week to support two conservative incumbents and two self-styled moderate challengers who are competing against the more liberal slate of four Education Political Action Committee candidates.
Norman Blumenthal, executive director of the new committee, said Henson told him that "he had been and always was a member of the Howard County NAACP and that his card was in his pocket." Blumenthal said that when he asked Henson about his work at the District Building, Henson told him to "call the D.C. personnel office or call Mayor Washington and his wife."
The chairman of the membership committee of the Howard County chapter of the NAACP, Dorothy Craft, said that Henson joined the chapter on Monday -- the same day that Blumenthal said Henson told him he had always been a member, and seven days after the political action committee listed him as a NAACP member.
The D.C. personnel office said yesterday that it could not confirm Henson's employment without a Social Security number, and former Mayor Washington said he had no recollection of Henson. Several other assistants, including the director of personnel during much of Washington's tenure, George R. Harrod, said that they did not remember Henson.
In a letter to Blumenthal, Nix also asked why the only black member of the committee was not a Montgomery County resident. Henson lives in Howard County.
"My wife met him at a fund-raiser for Joseph Barse," Blumenthal said. "He seemed very gung-ho about the current board . . . We want to have a committee with different backgrounds. It was impractical to try to call 100 people to find one person who would agree on everything."