By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Jerry Mondesire, former president of the Philadelphia NAACP died Sunday. He lead the group from 1991 until last year when he was suspended following questions regarding its finances.
Now, those who knew him best are hoping his legacy outshines the controversy.
Born Jerome Whyatt Mondesire, “Jerry” as he’s called was born in Harlem in 1949. He came to Philadelphia in the 1970s and worked at the Philadelphia Inquirer and later for the late Congressmen Bill Gray.
“No matter where Jerry Mondesire went, he was going to be vocal,” says Minister Rodney Muhammad, president of the Philadelphia NAACP.
He says Mondesire was also leader of the NAACP Pennsylvania conference and on the national Board. He helped get ex-offenders voting rights, take down Pennsylvania’s Voter ID law and stood up anytime there was injustice.
“He was of the mold and tradition of Cecil B. Moore, former leader of the Philadelphia NAACP,” Muhammad says.
Rochelle Bilal served on the NAACP board under Mondesire. She says his death leaves a void in Philadelphia:
“I don’t think there will be another one like him in this city. It hurts. Jerry stood up and he fought. He got out of bed every day and that was on his mind and his heart.”
Broadcaster Lorraine Ballard Morrill says she and Mondesire have been friends since the 1980s:
“He was not afraid to take on anyone, but as a friend — and he was one of my dearest friends — he was loyal, he was kind and he supportive of anything I wanted to do.”
She says his work as a journalist, publisher and owner of the Philadelphia Sunday Sun and host of the Sunday morning radio talk show “Freedom Quest” gave voice to the voiceless:
“He had the ability to bring in the mighty and the powerless.”
There’s still no word on plans for memorial services.