April 11, 2011; Source: Gazette.net | Two groups in Prince George’s County, Md., are embroiled in a very public fight over the right to work with local nonprofits to ward off budget cuts. While NPQ in no way wishes to weigh in on one side or another, we would like to suggest that the “sound and fury” surrounding the situation is probably less than fair to the constituents of the nonprofits facing those cuts.
We are sure that there is a history behind what has happened in Maryland, but the reported beginning of the situation came when the group, People for Change, organized a meeting for nonprofits facing budget cuts. This incited the heated e-mail from Jerry Adams of the Human Services Coalition who chided People for Change, saying that they were interfering on HSC’s advocacy territory. “Where exactly do you get the authority to represent your organization as the nonprofit coalition for Prince George’s County?” wrote Adams, whose organization represents 100 nonprofits.
This has, in turn, resulted in an angry response from Sandy Pruitt of People for Change, protesting the tone of Adams’ email. She is unmollified by a letter of apology sent by Adams. “Personally, I felt like I was on a plantation, having to go to the master to ask for permission,” said Pruitt. Taking it all a step further, according to this article, was Seat Pleasant Mayor Eugene Grant who wore a noose around his neck as he testified at a meeting, calling the email a “direct threat to a black woman by a white man that should be unacceptable in this country” and a “modern day lynching.”
This is apparently not the first time that People for Change has moved to set up an alternative to an existing organization. In 2007 it tried to establish a second county chapter of the NAACP when the local chapter refused to support its call for the resignation of school committee members.—Ruth McCambridge