The new president of the Rochester Branch of the NAACP urged people to become active and set a direction that reflects community needs.
“You can sit back and say, ‘Why did the NAACP Rochester Branch go in that direction,” he said during the Feb. 20 membership and community meeting. “That is a legitimate question. What I prefer is you to be on a committee and help us go in the proper direction. You are in the community with the people, and we are servants for the people.”
Singleton succeeded Ernest Flagler-Mitchell, who resigned for personal reasons.
Singleton had been first vice president, and NAACP bylaws elevate the first vice president to the role of president.
The Rochester branch had been chartered in 1919, but had been dormant for approximately the previous decade.
Singleton said the success of the chapter will come from “ordinary people doing extraordinary things.”
“We want average citizens,” he said after the meeting, which was held via Zoom. “We’re not waiting for Dr. King. I wish we could have him, but we can’t wait for a Dr. King, so we have to have ordinary people join. Maybe they can become Dr. King. We want ordinary people joining and we will do extraordinary things when we’re combined.”
The local chapter can set its own priorities but is mirroring some of the major agenda items of the national NAACP.
Among those is overcoming mistrust and doubt about the COVID-19 vaccines.
“The data show we are dying from COVID-19 and we’re not being vaccinated,” Singleton said. “We have to keep our family alive to enjoy all the fruits that we’re going to benefit from later.”
The city has been selected to host a mass vaccination site for people who live in underserved neighborhoods. The site is expected to open the first week of March and initially be for city residents of the following ZIP codes: 14604, 14605, 14608, 14609, 14611, 14613, 14614, 14615, 14619 and 14621. Details about how to sign up for a vaccination have yet to be released.
Singleton said other priorities are police reform and education.
Meeting included updates on COVID-19 by Amber Noelle, chairwoman of the health committee, and update on the number of members by membership committee chairman Richard C. Johnson.
Singleton said the Rochester chapter plans to have 16 committees covering topics such as labor and industry and public safety and criminal justice. Several are active and are seeking members. Others will become active once chairpeople are in place.
Singleton first came to Rochester as an 11-year-old when his father was offered a job at General Motors.
At 19, Singleton jointed the Marine Corps, where he was Aviation Ordnance Chief for Marine Air Group 49. Singleton created and update curriculum, taught classes, conducted hands-on ordnance training and led physical training.
After retiring from the Marines, Singleton worked as a supervisor for Delphi Automotive Systems in Rochester. He later lived in Tennessee and Rome, N.Y.
He returned to Rochester in 2015 and works in management at Xerox Corporation.
Information about the Rochester Branch is available by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.