Directors of the NAACP have decided to move the organization's national headquarters from New York to Baltimore in an effort to save money.
"You know, a dollar saved is the same as a dollar earned," said Enolia McMillan, president of both the Baltimore chapter and the national civil rights organization, who invited her colleagues on the board to check out her home town after unsuccessful efforts to find affordable new quarters in New York and Washington.
McMillan, who celebrated her 49th year with the NAACP last fall, said two Baltimore buildings are being considered for purchase, each with a total price of about $2 million including renovations. She said similar accommodations in New York or the District of Columbia would have cost about twice that much.
The NAACP, now headquartered in Brooklyn, has been renting national offices since it was founded in 1909. Directors decided about two years ago to buy a building, and McMillan said they opted to shop elsewhere after inspecting more than 100 New York buildings without satisfaction. The second choice was the District, she said, but "that was expensive, too." District officials in 1982 gave the NAACP rights to develop a city-owned building on 14th Street, but the organization rejected the deal in 1983 because the building was too small.
The decision to go to Baltimore came at a board meeting last Friday, and when word leaked out in a story in the Baltimore Sun today it surprised many Maryland civil rights leaders. "The first I knew of it was when I saw the paper this morning," said Clarence Mitchell III, a Democratic state senator from Baltimore.
McMillan said about 110 people will work at the Baltimore headquarters, and early indications are that about half of them will move from New York with the rest being hired locally.
The move is expected to take place in August, and while no building has yet been purchased the deal is all but final, McMillan said. "We won't be changing our minds, and from all indications the sellers and developers aren't about to change theirs, either," she said.