Education has always been important to newly elected Milwaukee NAACP President Clarence P. Nicholas. After growing up in Charlottesville, Virginia, at the urging of his high school English teacher, Nicholas attended and graduated from Wilberforce University in Wilberforce, OH, the nation’s oldest private school that became a historically black university owned and operated by African Americans. Its roots trace back to its founding in 1856.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, he headed to Milwaukee in 1970 to become a Milwaukee Public School (MPS) teacher. For more than 40 years, Nicholas was employed by MPS where he acquired a lifetime teaching license, a principal’s license, and completed post graduate studies to obtain a district and superintendent’s license. Prior to retiring, he was principal of Cornerstone Achievement Academy from 2007 to 2009. While teaching full-time, Nicholas also earned a Para-Legal Certificate from MATC and a master’s degree in Education from Cardinal Stritch University.
As a lifetime member of the NAACP, Nicholas was influenced to become involved in the organization by the late Felmers Chaney, who served as president of the NAACP for 12 years starting in 1987. Today Nicholas continues his passion for education and advocacy as President of the NAACP—Milwaukee Branch. Elected in December 2020, his term expires in November 2022.
The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons, and to eliminate race-based discrimination. Nicholas maintains the organization’s relevancy and is determined to help make a positive difference in the community.
“The NAACP has four focus areas this year—education, criminal justice, healthcare and economic development. Of those, we most urgently need to address education and 21st Century policing. Regarding the latter, we’re looking at (former President) Obama’s policy and building a community coalition for quality policing,” he said.
The NAACP has a local membership of about 800, and his goal is to activate 200 more to move the organization’s agenda forth. Nicholas is quick to acknowledge that Milwaukee has its work cut out for the organization and he lauds the commitment of the younger generation.
“We must confront systemic racism and continue to fight. The laws, codes, and statutes that existed in the Jim Crow South are norms in the North and West. The Black Lives Matter movement is relevant. We work with our youth as they are interested in coalescing with us to ensure we alleviate those acts and behaviors that negatively impact people of color,” he said.
The Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP serves the entire Metro Milwaukee community with respect to equality of treatment in five essential areas of healthcare, education, employment, social justice, and housing.
“If one of those essentials is missing, the community is not healthy. Thus, Milwaukee is in a State of Emergency since all five are missing in the African American, central city community. We need to engage and re-engage the faith community’s involvement on a larger scale through our Religious Affairs Community, youth through our Youth Committee (12- 24), and Young Adults (age 25-45). We are asking people to encourage their networks to support the NAACP’s movement to build political power and ensure the well-being of our community,” said Nicholas.
Nicholas will spearhead initiatives during his tenure to not only re-engage Milwaukee residents, but increase membership by 100 for the year 2021-2022. And, while his plate is full serving as president, he is also a member of the City of Milwaukee Ethics Board and Milwaukee County Ethics Board.
An active member of Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, where he has served as a deacon since 1975, he is also a Sunday School Teacher/Superintendent, and Church Clerk. Now both retired, Nicholas and his wife, Dr. Gloria J. Pitchford-Nicholas, enjoy spending time with family, entertaining, playing cards, bowling, and traveling.
Our Membership Meeting is held at 11:30 a.m. every third Saturday of the month. For more information, please email us at naacpmkeorg@gmail. com, visit our website at naacpmke.org; or call us at 414-562-1000