Bishop Talbert Swan II, back from NAACP event, outlines goals to combat racial injustice in Springfield
SPRINGFIELD — Bishop Talbert Swan II, fresh from a national convention of the NAACP, says he plans to continue a fight against racial inequality and surrounding issues.
The president of the Greater Springfield chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was elected in 2010 and has held the position since. He has been front and center in advocating against racial discrimination locally and nationally.
In February, he visited the Mason Temple in Memphis, Tennessee, with the Rev. Al Sharpton and attorney Ben Crump to host a press conference in response to the death of Tyre Nichols. The 29-year-old died in January of blunt force injuries to the head. His beating sparked nationwide protests and was labeled a case of police brutality.
Swan returned from a trip to the NAACP’s 114th national convention in Boston earlier this week and shared takeaways with The Republican and MassLive.
Learning that members of other NAACP branches have similar concerns about civil rights, criminal justice, economic development and education was one of Swan’s biggest revelations.
“That’s what made the national convention so important,” Swan said. “It really provides impactful discussions and gives people all over the country the chance to discuss their most pressing issues and create solutions.”
‘Reclaim the narrative’
Swan said politicians such as Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, want to revise the county’s history and teach young people that “what happened in America actually didn’t happen.”
He views the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to eliminate the use of affirmative action in college admissions as “punitive.” He said it was based on a perceived notion that African Americans were receiving a benefit that they didn’t deserve.
“We want to make sure that in branches all over the nation, our school system, places of employment and everywhere, people are presented with the reality of this nation,” Swan said. “Reclaiming the narrative is one important takeaway that all of us left with … and not to let people like Ron DeSantis turn ‘Woke’ into a prejorative.”
Swan said one conversation in Boston focused on how to build a bridge sturdy enough to tackle all forms of discrimination.
“It has no place (in this country),” Swan said of bias.
In the months ahead, Swan said he plans to work with Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno to reduce gun violence in the city.
He called Springfield a “very politically charged atmosphere,” given the current mayoral election campaign, and said he believes gun violence is being used as a political football.
Swan said his priority is to break down walls that separate political leaders and work together on an issue “that affects all of us.”
“Regardless of what political differences may have been, whether it’s the mayor, other elected officials or other grassroots organizations, it’s important to be mature enough to work together on the bigger issues,” Swan said. “That’s where we are with the NAACP.”