Rev. Edward Pinkney (top center with cap) and some of his supporters, before April 11 court hearing; BH NAACP Secretary Joyce Smith is second from left; Marian Kramer of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization is second from right


By Diane Bukowski

April 13, 2012 

DETROIT – Rev. Edward Pinkney, president of the Benton Harbor, Michigan chapter of the NAACP, declared victory in Wayne County Circuit Court April 11 as he staved off  the state NAACP’s plan to hold a midterm election April 14 to oust him and local chapter officers. 

The courtroom was packed with Pinkney’s supporters, from Benton Harbor to Detroit to Pontiac. After a conference in chambers with Circuit Court Judge Brian Sullivan, the parties in the $100,000 civil suit against the NAACP agreed to postpone the election at least until after a hearing May 10 at 10:30 a.m., when attorneys will have filed their briefs. 

Michigan NAACP President Yvonne White leaves court with her attorney John Johnson

Attorneys Elliott Hall and Buck Davis represent Pinkney. State NAACP Conference President Yvonne White appeared in court with her attorney John Johnson, formerly City of Detroit Corporation Counsel under Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. White works for General Motors at the UAW-GM building on Joseph Campau in downtown Detroit. 

Pinkney said the Whirlpool Corporation, headquartered in Benton Harbor, is the elephant in the room. 

“Whirlpool cut a deal with the state and national NAACP, through Marcus Robinson,” Pinkney said. “They said they would not support the NAACP as long as I am head of the Benton Harbor branch.” 

Harbor Shores Golf Club, site of the Senior PGA Tournament May 27-31, 2012

Benton Harbor NAACP Secretary Joyce Smith said the company is angry because of plans by Pinkney and others to “OCCUPY THE PGA” in Benton Harbor May 23-27, 2012. The golf tournament is sponsored by KitchenAid, a subsidiary of Whirlpool. Robinson is a board member of Harbor Shores Community Development Corporation, among other titles.

“The State NAACP is violating its own by-laws and constitution,” Smith said. “They want to replace us with Whirlpool’s minions. The PGA is coming in May, and they hope we won’t be able to picket. They’re interviewing Benton Harbor citizens now for temporary jobs at the tournament.” 

Public beach on Lake Michigan at Jean Klock Park

BANCO (Black Autonomy Network Community Organization), and the Occupy Movement are sponsoring Occupy the PGA. The Senior PGA tournament is to be held at the Harbor Shores Jack Nicklaus Signature golf course, developed with Whirlpool’s support. It is part of a $750 million, 530 acre resort development with $500,000 condominiums. 

The elected (but currently powerless) Benton Harbor City Commission has voted 4-2 to oppose the presence of the PGA in Benton Harbor. City commissioner Dennis Knowles said, “The reason I voted against the PGA is because of the non-inclusiveness of the residents that live in the city, the inner city….I’m saying that these people need a chance, in my neighborhood…they need a chance.”

BH Commissioners Marcus Muhammad and Duane Seals II /Photo Andrea Muhammad

Click on Newly elected commissioners resist state takeover FC to read article from the Final Call on the Benton Harbor Commissioners’ struggles.

According to community activists, corporate officials took part of the development’s land from the publicly-owned Jean Klock Park, which includes a gorgeous stretch of lakefront beach.

Pinkney and others from Benton Harbor have fought Whirlpool’s corporate grab of publicly owned land and displacement of the city’s poor Black majority residents for years. Meanwhile, Whirlpool has shut down its plants in Benton Harbor, Evanston, Indiana and other cities and moved them to Mexico, putting tens of thousands out of work.

In Evanston, the Vice-President of the Indiana state conference of the NAACP, Barbara Bolling, supported Whirlpool workers, not Whirlpool, at a 2009 rally.

Indiana NAACP Vice-President Barbara Bolling (l) at rally in Evanston against Whirlpool plant shutdown

Pinkney said Robinson, president of the Consortium for Community Development, a component of the Whirlpool Foundation-supported Cornerstone Alliance, sent out an email, quoted in a People’s Tribune article. 

“The State Commission of the NAACP and their National Office has decided to undertake the reorganization of this chapter with the specific intention of revitalizing the leadership and membership body. Contact Marcus Robinson by cell at 269-277-7711 or by inbox at”

Marcus Robinson

The non-profit Cornerstone Alliance has assets of $32.3 million, according to its 2010 tax filing. The Alliance told the IRS the reason for its non-profit status is that it is “an organization that normally receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or from the general public.” (Click on Cornerstone Alliance 2010 990 to read entire tax filing.)

But the Alliance’s website says, “Traditionally, funding from the private sector constitutes approximately 92% of our overall funding base, with Whirlpool Foundation matching-within reason-whatever is raised by these community donations.” 

State Senator Al Pscholka, a chief sponsor of the infamous Public Act 4, also known as “the Dictator Act,” is a director of the Alliance according to state records.

Rev. Edward Pinkney (l) helps lead march against PA4 takeover of Benton Harbor, 2009

NAACP State Conference President White told VOD, “Our job as the NAACP is to protect voting rights. All we’re attempting to do is stay on the job and follow our constitution.” 

White’s attorney Johnson contended in court that the last election held by the Benton Harbor chapter was improper. 

But Pinkney challenged the state NAACP’s purported concern about voting rights. 

“The NAACP is doing nothing to fight the emergency manager law,” Pinkney told VOD. “I emailed  Yvonne White two years ago, and informed her this law is a major issue, and that we need to stop it before it gets to cities like Detroit. She did not respond. We feel Yvonne White needs to be replaced as state president.” 

Rev. Edward Pinkney (top center right) joined march of 3,000 on Gov. Rick Snyder's house on Jan. 15, 2012, MLK Day.

Over 50 percent of Michigan’s African-American residents now live in cities taken over by emergency managers or equivalent consent agreements. Benton Harbor was the first victim in 2009, with Flint, Pontiac, Inkster, the Detroit and Highland Park Public Schools, and now Detroit itself among the others.

Unelected emergency managers exercise total power over the cities’ assets, land, finances, workforce, and union contracts, with privatization and regionalization major goals.  In Pontiac, the EM has put the city’s entire assets including 11 water plants on the auction block. 

The law faces challenges including lawsuits, a referendum campaign, and a determination by the Democratic caucus of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that it is unconstitutional and violates the National Voting Rights Act.

Pinkney has also fought long and hard against police brutality and frame-ups in Benton Harbor. A judge sentenced him to a stretch in prison for quoting a Bible passage to him.

To contact Rev. Pinkney, call  269-925-0001 or go to

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  1. Rosie Lyons says:

    How sad it is that God suffered so much heartache in order to create the American Negro, and look how we turned out. We are not only disobedient unto God; but we are disrespectful to one another: We are cold hearted toward one another: We are strangers among ourselves, and we would rather kill out the Negro race rather than come together as one people; working toward the same goal- one Nation under God; with liberty and justice for all God’s people.

    In 2008, God opened the door to His American Negro race, and what did we do? We closed that door and returned the country and the world back to His people who have a different color tone; whom He had already given 389 years of being in charge of His earth. What good was the Movement if we didn’t really want the whole role? If we only wanted to be a showcase; then Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sacrificed his family and his life for a handful of people who only wanted freedom from themselves.

    But why Dr. King; a man who loved God and loved his family? Also a man who died before his time because a handful of Negroes were no longer pleased with the race God had chosen for them, and it was to that handful that grass looked greener on the other side of the fence. It was all a trick of the devil; who knew that God had created the American Negro as a special people that we might bring praise unto His name.

    Oh how disappointed He must be, to witness the self-destruction of a people who are His second creation: A people whom he (in 2008) tried to make the sole caretaker of His earth; but His Negroes turned down His offer: Who knows when that door will open again to the American Negro.

  2. Pingback: Corruption in Benton Harbor-Michigan | SevenSevenEight

  3. The same trick that they are trying to pull on Rev Pinkney was done to the Ossining NAACP in NY when they hammered out an emergency resolution supporting Mumia Abu Jamal at a National Convention in Philadelphia Pa in 2004. During that Convention not word was mentioned about the bomb that was dropped on the MOVE organizations house killing 11 men women and children by the NAACP , All this took place this massacre in Philly with a Kneegrow mayor Wilson Goode in 1995

    • This resolution was forced on the NAACP from and by progressive movements demonstrating outside NAACP convention. Only Mel Mason president of a California NAACP supported the resolution and the Ossining branch that is in its 6th year of Suspension and told it would never be reinstated as long as Hazel Dukes president of NYS branches was president. She is a known Lap dog for the DemoKKKratic party

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