White Guy Runs Maine Chapter of NAACP

From prison, that is— he says being a felon makes you a minority
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 3, 2009 9:18 AM CST
William Flynn appears in court, Jan. 25, 2008. Flynn is serving a 28 years-to-life prison term for killing his lover's husband as a teenager. He's also president of his Maine prison's NAACP chapter.   (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter, Poolr)

(Newser) – The president of the NAACP doesn’t often go to Maine, the whitest state in the country. But recently Todd Jealous took the Washington Post to a state prison there, to meet his new favorite chapter—one comprised almost entirely of white convicts. It’s run by Billy Flynn, who’s doing 28-to-life for a once-famous murder. “There’s some confusion when people see an Irish guy as president of the NAACP,” he says. “I’ve had my share of comments.”

Flynn was surprised to learn that few white men lead NAACP chapters; he points out that the organization was founded by whites and blacks together. His chapter is concerned mostly with prisoner rights; it’s one of only three groups prisoners can join, and the only one that gets outside support. For Jealous, this is part of a push to broaden the NAACP’s appeal. “Colored people come in all colors,” he tells the convicts.