Members of the Montgomery County NAACP staged a "benign" night vigil at the home of County Council member Michael Gudis last week to highlight recent disputes between the group and Gudis.
The vigil by about a dozen NAACP members lasted half an hour. At the time, Gudis was attending a county business service appreciation awards reception.
Hanley Norment, a vice president of the local NAACP, said in a telephone interview that the vigil was protesting recent positions Gudis has taken on the council. He also noted that the NAACP felt compelled to signal its unhappiness with Gudis before the county has its fifth annual Sensitivity Awareness Symposium Day today.
Gudis originally sponsored legislation creating the Sensitivity Day and is the chairman of this year's event, which seeks to advance racial and cultural harmony through a series of activities and programs. Last summer the NAACP called for his resignation from the post after he provided the crucial vote for Planning Board candidate Jack Hewitt. The NAACP opposed Hewitt because he was county park director in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the parks department had segregated facilities. Hewitt denied knowledge of such segregation.
"We don't hold any personal hostility to Mr. Gudis," Norment said. "But we are concerned about his political actions and thinking . . . in a county that is progressive."
Gudis said he was surprised by the vigil and thought the controversy with the NAACP "was over and done with." He said he has good relations with black leaders in the county and has worked to improve county programs for minorities.