South Brevard NAACP History

History of South Brevard Branch NAACP

Compiled by Eugene C. Johnson


This year marks the one hundredth fifteenth celebration of the NAACP. South Brevard Branch has its own unique beginning. Before a Branch was established in Melbourne in 1959, there was a man with a vision, Deacon Chauncey Mc Clain of Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church. Each Sunday Deacon Mc Clain asked permission from the Church to take up a ten-cent offering that was sent to Harry T. Moore of Mims Florida who was serving in the capacity of President of Florida State Conferences of NAACP Branches. Deacon Mc Clain performed this task diligently when most individuals dared showed support for the NAACP. His continuous courage and the segregation that confronted the Black citizens, was the instrument that awaken the Black community of Melbourne and led to the formulation of Melbourne Branch NAACP. The catalyst that was the final straw was the bombing/assassination on December 25th‘ 1951 of the State Field Secretary and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Harry T. Moore in Mims Florida.

Many men were considered for the leadership of a Branch Office in Melbourne, but the fear from the assassination had a negative impact. Finally, Mr. Emmitt Stadom, employed at Patrick Air Force Base, agreed to accept the position. He felt that being employed by the Federal Government would protect his job from harassment. With additional urging from Dr. Norris [a Black medical doctor in South Melbourne] and other community members, Mr. Stadom accepted the position of President of Melbourne Branch NAACP. Because of the actions that the Black community had taken against discriminatory practices by White business owners, Mr. Stadom began to feel the repercussion through the pressure that was applied to his wife, Mrs., Oretha Stadom, who was employed by Brevard County School System

There were many obstacles to overcome in the pursuit of equality, but the organization never backed down. Through the marches and sit-in led by Rev Henry Jackson, Peggye Brothers and Freddie Reddick, Coleman Pharmacy and lunch Counter on U.S. Highway #1, Taylor Drug Store and Hendricks’s Luncheonette in Downtown Melbourne, the Van Croix Theater, and the Melbourne Golf Course, were just a few of the businesses that changed their policy and afforded equal treatment to Black customers.

In the 1960’s, The Melbourne Branch became instrumental in the boycotting of downtown Melbourne stores. President Stadom began to feel the repercussion through pressure that was being directed at his wife who worked in the Brevard County School System. Because of the pressure on Mr. Stadom’s wife, Rev Mc Millon asked Rev. Buggs and the membership not to re-elect Mr. Stadom as President. There-fore Mr. Stadom did not seek re-election, and Rev Buggs was elected President.

After Rev Buggs became president, the Branch became very active:

In 1962, the Branch began picketing the lunch-counters in the Melbourne area such as Coleman’s Pharmacy, Taylors’s drug Store, Hendrick’s Luncheonette, and the Van Croix Theater.

The first students arrested for picketing were Henry Lee Scott and Governor Hendley. They were represented by Attorney Earl Johnson of Jacksonville. Melbourne having no Black attorney at the time and no white attorney would take the case.

In 1963 Liggett Drugs lunch-counter was integrated, along with the Trade Winds Cafeteria in the Melbourne Shopping Center. Also, in 1963 a lawsuit was filed to integrate the Melbourne Golf and Country Club. Attorney Gray of Miami Florida filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Melbourne Branch NAACP. After some intense interactions, an agreement was reached before the case went to trial. The first Blacks to play golf on the Melbourne Golf Course were Mr. Charlie Stadom, Mr. Emmitt Stadom and the Rev. Henry R. Jackson. Also in August of 1963, four Melbourne Branch members participated in the March on Washington, D.C.

In 1964, Melbourne Branch opened its first branch office at 23 South Brothers Avenue, formerly Mr. Ben Home’s Barber Shop. That same year, Robert King High, one of the Democratic candidates for Governor of the State of Florida, visited and promised the Branch that he would be sensitive to issues concerning all the people of Florida.

In 1967, Albert Kincey was arrested by officers of the Satellite Beach Police department on a charge of intimidating one of its citizens. Attorney Joseph Hatcher, a NAACP Lawyer from Daytona Beach, was instrumental in having the complaint dismissed.  Attorney Hatcher later became a Judge and served on the U.S. Court of Appeals.

All of the mass meetings and strategy sessions were held at either Macedonia Missionary Church or Greater Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church. An abundance of credit and recognition must be given to the Youth Council members headed up by Mr. Freddie Reddick, and assisted by Mr. Jessie Lee Postell, Mr. Edward France Miss Peggye Brothers, Mr. Henry Jackson and Mr. Willie N. Taylor. The group of young people they directed were the life blood of the Branch achievements during the periods of marching and sit-in demonstrations.

The Melbourne Branch worked very closely with the Cocoa Branch to assist Mr. Sylvester Weaver and other Cocoa parties to file suit in Federal Court, requesting that the Brevard School System be forced to integrate the schools under the 1954 Supreme Court ruling.

In 1968, Rev Henry R. Jackson assumed the presidency of the Melbourne Branch and carried on in the high esteem that Rev. Buggs had established. During Rev Jackson’s tenure, Rev Buggs continued to work close with him on all issues, especially when the Melbourne power structure attempted to discredit the Branch achievements. Eventually, the yoke of leadership caused Rev Jackson to step down and Mr. Thomas Donnell assumed the reign of president. Mr. Donnell was only president for approximately three years when his job transferred him to another location, and the branch phased out.

In 1974, Rev. Richard A. Chappelle, Pastor of Allen Chapel A.M.E. [later to become Bishop] became president and gave new birth to the organization. On February 16, 1975, an application of Charter was requested with Rev Chappelle as President with a total of 90 adults and youth members.

About 1978 Rev Chappelle was transferred to pastor another church and Mrs. Lillian Harden, who served as Vice President, became President. The Branch came under some very difficult times but managed to maintain its direction. In October 1981 a group of concerned Melbourne citizens came together to re-establish the branch. A nominating committed was established to develop a slate of officers and have an election before the NAACP State Convention slated for October 22-24, 1981, in Tampa Florida. After much deliberation, the following slate of officers was selected, presented, balloted upon and installed: Julius Montgomery President; Homer Brantley 1st Vice President; Rev. Carol Williams 2nd Vice President; Clara Smith Secretary; Melvina Croskey Asst. Secretary; Albert Broomfield Treasurer; Valene Croskey Parliamentarian; Gertrude Montgomery Asst. Parliamentarian; and Carl Montgomery Chaplain.

A New Charter was re-issued in July of 1982 under Mr. Julius Montgomery’s Presidency. Under Mr. Montgomery leadership the branch was instrumental in getting back on track. For his dedication and hard work, Mr. Montgomery was awarded a state Trophy for the highest number of new members reported during a Harry T. Moore membership drive. Mr. Montgomery worked diligently as President and kept the Branch on top of issues up through 1986, when Mr. Carl Finerson was elected president of the branch.

Under the leadership of Mr. Finerson, the branch grew in leaps and bounds. Membership tripled, the name changed to South Brevard Branch NAACP, a quarterly News Bulletin was established, The Executive Board became more functional, increased involvement with all aspects of community, local and state government. And a Community Informational Television program through Brevard Community College was established. Mr. Finerson chartered a dynamic course of achievement through 2000 when he stepped down.

Through the years, South Brevard Branch NAACP has carried on the high standards established at the beginning. The following presidents have served diligently and with honor: Mr. Emmitt Stadom, Rev Jessie Buggs, Rev Henry R. Jackson, Mr. Thomas Donnell, Rev Richard A. Chappell, Mrs. Lillian Harden, Mr. Julius Montgomery. Mr. Carl Finerson, Mr Cleve Frink, MS Carol Floyd, Mrs. Clara P. Smith, Mr. James Minus,

Mr. Charlie Favor, Mr. Robert Johnson, and today [2018] Mr. James Minus is President of South Brevard Branch NAACP.

In the last five years, the branch has established Computer Building classes to students and Senior Citizens, Book give away and reading programs to community students, Provided Scholarships to graduating seniors through the Reginald E. Johnson Memorial Scholarship Foundation, spent endless hours in getting out the vote for the National and Local Elections, and has continued an active vigil on the Treyvon Martin case.

One of the greatest achievements of the Branch in the last ten years, has been the revitalization of the Branch’s ACT/SO Program. This program under the direction of

Mrs. Thelma Bryan along with Dr. Ruby Bell, has acted as an enrichment activity for students with plans to extend their education beyond High School.

To culminate the hard work over the last five years, on March 22, 2013, the ACT/SO Team, under the umbrella of U.M.O.J.A., competed in the Florida Educational Statewide Black History and Culture Bowl, at the Wyndham Hotel Lake Buena Vista at Disney World. The students competed against 30 other teams in Mathematics, Black History and Culture. In the final analysis, they were undefeated and went on to win the 28th Annual Black History Bowl Competition.

During the years of 2014 and 2015, the Branch was very involved with investigation of complaints as well as interacting with City and County Government, to insure that new Legislation did not impact negatively against the poor. There was a rash of Deformation against Churches and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Library, wherein Graffiti was painted on the outside walls. The Branch also became deeply involved with Economic Development issues under the direction of Ms. Alberta Clinkscales, and Now it is paying dividends. Mrs. Melvina Croskey has increased the Life Membership by fifty percent in the last two years. Mr. Joseph Mc. Neil and the Legal Redress Committee were responsible for Regular membership increase because of their high volume of case resolutions.

At the 2015 Freedom Fund Banquet, Mr. Julian Bond, former Chairman of the National NAACP Board of Directors, was paid a tribute of Remembrance for his over twenty-five years of leadership. The Branch also alluded to Mr. Bonds visit in the early 1970, s along with now Congressman John L. Lewis. The guest speaker for the 2015 Freedom Fund Banquet was Ms. Pam Keith, an advocate for Civil Rights, who was running for Florida Senate. The Banquet was a huge success with record breaking attendance, because Chairperson Ms. Marva A. Murray, left no stones unturned in ensuring a positive outcome.

At the beginning of 2016, President James H. Minus shared his vision with the Branch. His vision was to increase Voter Registration by fifty percent. At this moment he has almost reached his goal. Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Bryan once again proved that young Black Student had Talent as well as being Academicians. Through ACT/SO and U.M.O.J.A., they once again achieved success and took a student, Miss Tabitha Hadley to the National Competition. The Branch is in the last quarter of 2016, and they are having Mr. Leon Russell, Vice Chairman of the National NAACP Board of Directors, as their Guest Speaker for the Freedom Fund Banquet. The theme is “Our Lives Matter, Our Vote Counts”.

The year of 2017 has been another banner year for the Branch. The Branch has sustained and maintained a great working relationship with the Melbourne, Palm Bay, and West Melbourne Police Departments, as well as Brevard County Sheriff Department. The Branch received minimal complaints from citizen, and where there was an issue, it was addressed promptly and the citizens were satisfied with the results. The success of the Legal Redress Committee, led by Mr. Joseph Mc Neil and Mr. Bennie Jackson, who were the Mediators for citizen’s complaints has been outstanding.

The Education Committee has led the charge with Brevard County School Board in addressing the needs of our students that may be falling behind because of Social, and/or Parent shortfalls. The Branch is currently working on a parental engagement effort through the local Churches, which will address the educational shortfalls of our students. The efforts include providing the parent with the necessary resources needed for their children to be successful students and citizens. The Brevard County School Board Superintendent, Dr. Desmond K. Blackburn, has been gracious enough to assist in this effort and has extended themselves to us wherever they can.

The School Board has also provided the three NAACP branches with data to address area concerns which will directly address fair discipline throughout the county. This was all accomplished through all three Branches interaction with the County School Board.

The Branch is now preparing for their Annual Freedom Fund Banquet, and has invited Dr. Rosalind Osgood Author, Keynote Speaker, and Workshop Facilitator is leading conversations in emotional intelligence, Organizational Health, the Journey of Recovery and Resilience, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Women Empowerment, and Public Policy.

She holds both a Master’s and Doctoral Degree in Public Administration from Nova Southeastern University. She also earned a master’s degree in divinity from New Orleans Southern Baptist Theological ATS accredited Seminary.  She is also a graduate of Leadership Florida Cornerstone Class 37.

She has over 23 years of experience in Non- Profit Leadership serving as the Chief Executive Officer of Mount Olive Development Corporation. She is a Faith in Florida Organizer, a Florida Senator for District 32, and an Associate Minister at New Mount Olive Baptist Church.

Today, 2024, the South Brevard Branch of the NAAP is led by President Bennie Jackson, Jr. Our focus is still on Education under the leadership of Bernard Bryan, voter’s registration under the leadership of Josiah Snod-Grass Neal and the rest of our Membership is working hard for our community.

The NAACP is the Oldest and the Boldest, the Most Cussed and the Most Discussed.


Send check or money order to:

South Brevard Branch-NAACP
P. O. Box 2031
Melbourne, Fl. 32901