U.S. Sen. Scott Brown agrees to meet with Springfield NAACP leader Talbert Swan after initially saying no

Published: Friday, January 27, 2012
By Robert Rizzuto, The Republican

U.S. Sen. Scott P. Brown, left, is seen with the Rev. Talbert Swan II, president of the Springfield Chapter of the NAACP in these file photos.

U.S. Senator will be meeting with the Springfield NAACP after all.

Republican Sen. Scott P. Brown agreed to meet with local NAACP President Rev. Talbert Swan II on Friday, hours after Swan took his refusal to accept no for an answer public.

Brown’s office in Washington D.C. reported Friday afternoon that the senator is now tentatively scheduled to meet with Swan in March while Jerry McDermott, the state director for Brown’s office, will appear at Swan’s church in February.

“The NAACP is pleased that Senator Brown has agreed to schedule time to meet with us in March and will make his staff available to us for a preliminary meeting in February,” Swan told The Republican. “We understand Senator Brown is balancing the needs and concerns of multiple constituents, however, we also believe it is important for him to hear the concerns of those we represent. The upcoming meetings will illustrate that Senator Brown’s is devoted to listening to all of his constituents. We appreciate the commitment to meet with us and look forward to Senator Brown honoring that commitment.”


Springfield NAACP leader Talbert Swan calls on Sen. Scott Brown to reconsider invitation for “town hall” meeting

Published: Friday, January 27, 2012
By Robert Rizzuto, The Republican

U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, left, and Springfield NAACP Chapter President Rev. Talbert Swan II. (AP & Republican file photos)

SPRINGFIELD- The Springfield chapter of the NAACP is renewing its request for a sit down with Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, after Brown’s office declined an invitation to hold a town hall style discussion with local members.

On Dec. 20, Rev. Talbert W. Swan II, president of the growing Springfield NAACP chapter, sent Brown’s office a request for him to come to the city and hear directly from the group’s members.

“You are well aware of the difficulties suffered by middle class and poor Americans in the current economic climate. You are also keenly aware that the American people grow weary of partisan politics in Washington taking priority over the best interests of the American people,” Swan wrote in his initial invitation. “Senator, we want you to directly hear from residents from all walks of life, from small business owners and their employees to the unemployed, on their ideas how to increase jobs and prosperity in our area along with many other concerns. It is important that the constituents understand your priorities and to work together with you to craft a consensus solution for Massachusetts.”


Investigating the Springfield Police Department

Hampden County’s new DA takes on a police shooting case that dredges up years of trouble between Springfield police and the community they are sworn to serve.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

By Maureen Turner, Valley Advocate

Rev. Talbert W. Swan, II, President, Springfield Branch NAACP

In the early morning hours of Nov. 6, four Springfield police officers pursued a Pontiac Grand Am that had been reported stolen from a Boston Road gas station the day before.

The car was driven by 18-year-old Tahiem Goffe of Springfield, who had two teenage passengers. According to reports of the incident, two officers followed the car as it headed east on Taylor Street, while a second pair of officers drove ahead to cut it off by blocking the car with their cruiser at the intersection of Taylor and Kibbe Avenue.

His path forward blocked, Goffe put the Grand Am in reverse, smashing into the cruiser that was pursuing him. Then he drove forward, in the direction of the two officers who’d parked on Kibbe Avenue and were now approaching the car on foot. As the car came at the officers, one of them, Matthew Benoit, fired one shot, which hit Goffe. Benoit was then struck by the car.


NAACP in Springfield seeks to renew energy, membership

Published: Sunday, January 15, 2012
By Jack Flynn, The Republican

The Republican / Don Treeger - Rev. Talbert W. Swan II, president of the Springfield NAACP, talks with the editorial board of The Republican.

SPRINGFIELD – At the Martin Luther King Jr. birthday ceremony Friday at City Hall, the Rev. Talbert W. Swan II offered a brief history lesson for younger members of the audience.

The causes championed by King five decades ago are the same ones civil rights activists are campaigning for today, said Swan, the new president of the Springfield’s NAACP chapter.

“Jobs and justice,” Swan told the overflow crowd, including students from the city’s Martin Luther King Charter School of Excellence.


Newton Mayor Setti Warren speaks at Martin Luther King Jr. ceremony in Springfield

Published: Friday, January 13, 2012
By Jack Flynn, The Republican

Photo by Michael S. Gordon - Newton Mayor Setti D. Warren addresses the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day commemoration and flag-raising Friday at Springfield City Hall.

SPRINGFIELD – The state’s first elected black mayor urged residents to celebrate the progress made possible by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. while pushing for greater social and economic equality.

Speaking at a ceremony honoring the civil rights leader, Newton Mayor Setti D. Warren told the overflow crowd at City Hall that his daughter Abagail is growing up in a world that would be unrecognizable to her grandparents.

She lives in a city “with a black mayor, in a state with a black governor, in a country with a black president,” said Warren, the keynote speaker at the event sponsored by the city, the local NAACP chapter and other groups.

“She’s too young to know there was a time when (those opportunities) were not for her, when her ascendance was not possible,” said Warren, 42, a lawyer and Naval intelligence officer who was elected mayor in 2009 after returning from Iraq.


We Will Stand: Defending Voting Rights

In collaboration with Brave New Foundation, the NAACP has put together a new video about the impact of the voting right attacks on communities of color. Please take a moment to watch and spread the message to everyone you know, then text STAND to 62227 to join our fight for voting rights


In Memory of Alan Howard

by Maureen Turner, Senior Writer, Valley Advocate

Alan Howard, longtime political activist, was Chairman of the NAACP Political Action Commmittee

The old year ended on a sad note, with the passing of long-time political and community activist Alan Howard.

The 52-year-old Howard died on Dec. 30. His funeral service takes place tomorrow, Jan 6, at Bethel A.M.E. Church on Pendleton Avenue, with a calling hour from 11 a.m. to noon, followed by the funeral and burial at Oak Grove Cemetery.

A Springfield native, Howard went to Brown University, then returned to his hometown where he immersed himself in the city’s political scene. A one-time aide to U.S. Rep. Richie Neal and state Rep. Ben Swan, Howard was active in Springfield’s Democratic City Committee and worked on numerous political campaigns. He was also the former president of the McKnight Neighborhood Council, belonged to Arise for Social Justice and the Black Men of Greater Springfield, and, at the time of his death, was on the executive committee of the Springfield branch of the NAACP, serving as the political action chair. It’s hard to think of an important issue in recent Springfield history that Howard was not involved with, from his dedicated work to bring ward representation to the City Council to his outspokenness about police abuse of power, especially when dealing with people of color.


Springfield NAACP schedules public meeting on Easthampton City Councilor Donald Cykowski’s ‘Puerto Rican’ remark

December 28, 2011 By Lucila J. Santana, El Pueblo Latino

Easthampton City Councilor Donald L. Cykowski, left, is seen in this composite photo with Springfield NAACP president, the Rev. Talbert W. Swan II.

SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield branch of the NAACP has scheduled a public meeting Jan. 4 to discuss a recent comment by Easthampton city councilor Donald L. Cykowski that has been widely criticized as offensive to the Puerto Rican community.

Cykowski has since apologized for his statement, which was made at a Dec. 7 council meeting, but calls for further action continue inside and outside Easthampton.

Meanwhile, the outgoing president of the Easthampton City Council said he will file a resolution Tuesday reaffirming the council’s commitment to tolerance and against discrimination of any kind.


The era of the ‘non-apology apology,’ where too little is too much for some

Published: Thursday, December 22, 2011
By Conor Berry, The Republican

Easthampton City Councilor Donald Cykowski

“I’m sorry if what I said offended you.”

Welcome to the era of the “non-apology apology,” in which phrases like that abound in the corridors of power, where many leaders have become adept at deflecting criticism by co-opting others into the scenario – namely the aggrieved parties, who are often made out to be humorless, thin-skinned ninnies.

In short, the non-apology apology typically involves an alleged offender who attempts to save face while placating the party that was offended. Curiously, though, those who deliver such backhanded apologies never seem to own up to their wrongheadedness.

The practice of issuing non-apolgy apologies has become so common, in fact, that someone felt the need to create a Wikepedia entry on the phenomenon. And New York Times veteran William Schneider inadvertently coined a new phrase when he referred to the practice as “the past exonerative,” or seeming to apologize while not taking any personal responsibility for the presumed offense.


NAACP wants censure, resident seeks resignation of Easthampton City Councilor Donald Cykowski for ‘Puerto Rican’ remark

Published: Thursday, December 22, 2011
By Conor Berry, The Republican

Easthampton City Councilor Donald Cykowski, shown here at a candidates forum this year, apologized at Wednesday's council meeting for a remark he made about Puerto Ricans at a Dec. 7 meeting.

The head of the regional branch of the NAACP has called on Easthampton officials to censure City Councilor Donald L. Cykowski for appearing to disparage Puerto Ricans in a remark he made at a Dec. 7 council meeting.

The Rev. Talbert W. Swan II, president of the Springfield chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is also suggesting Cykowski “should consider resigning from public office, as he would be unfit to effectively serve his constituents.”

Also Thursday, Easthampton resident Lauren Marcous started an Internet petition asking the council and Mayor Michael A. Tautznik to force Cykowski to apologize and resign. She said Cykowski’s apology wasn’t sincere.

“Essentially, (Cykowski) apologized for other people ‘misunderstanding’ him – not for the racist statement he made,” Marcous’ petition letter states.

Cykowski said he has no intentions of resigning after issuing an apology at a council meeting Wednesday night.

“I thought my apology was enough,” he said Thursday.

The comment for which Cykowski apologized to his fellow council members was: “Where’s a Puerto Rican when we need one?” It was made after colleague and fellow councilor-at-large Ronald D. Chateauneuf left a meeting room and was unable to return when the door locked behind him. Cykowski hasn’t explained what he meant by the remark.