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As new NAACP president, Morton focuses on eliminating race-based discrimination.

1/30/2014, 3:22 p.m.
Ishton W. Morton, the newly installed president of the Cincinnati NAACP Branch, says, “The Cincinnati Branch NAACP shall focus its ...
Cincinnati NAACP Branch President Ishton W. Morton. Herald photo

Ishton W. Morton, the newly installed president of the Cincinnati NAACP Branch, says, “The Cincinnati Branch NAACP shall focus its energies on the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People mission which shall be to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.”

“I'm a fully paid Silver Life Member in the National Association for the Advancement of colored People,’’ Morton said. Over the years, he has served the Cincinnati Branch NAACP as 1st, 2nd, 3rd vice president and Executive Committee member. In addition, he has served as chair of the Education Committee, Communication Committee, Membership Committee, Political Committee, Community Liaison, Voter Registration Committee and Labor and Industry Committee, which he currently chairs.

Statewide and nationally, Morton served the Ohio Conference NAACP as 3rd Vice President, District IV-Coordinator, chair of the Resolution Committee and is currently a member of the Ohio Conference NAACP Executive Committee. He has participated in numerous voter registration drives and served on the National Resolution Committee.

Going by the book, Morton outlined the principals and objectives of the National NAACP as those to be followed during his tenure as president. The Cincinnati Branch NAACP will work to:

  • ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all citizens;
  • achieve equality of rights and eliminate race prejudice among the citizens within its communities and the United States;
  • remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes;
  • seek enactment and enforcement of federal, state, and local laws securing civil rights;
  • inform the public of the adverse effects of racial discrimination and to seek its elimination;
  • and educate person(s) as to their constitutional rights and to take all lawful action to secure the exercise thereof and to take any other lawful action in furtherance of these objectives, consistent with the NAACP's Articles of Incorporation and this Constitution.

These mission goals appear simple, but address a wide range of things, he said. “Leading a local civil rights organization is a full-time job, and I'm often on the phone at night discussing an issue or problem with someone,'' he said.

Morton succeeds former Branch president Christopher Smitherman, who led the organization the past seven years.

A native of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Morton has spent almost all of his life in Cincinnati, which he calls home. He is a retired vocational education teacher, having taught in Walnut Hills, Aiken and Taft high schools. He still teaches drafting at Arthur Riche Junior High. He really enjoys teaching, he said. He and his wife Beverly live in Silverton, where she was raised. A son, Ishton, lives in Cincinnati.

Morton is working to not only increase membership, which was boosted to about 2,500 members under Smitherman’s presidency, but also adding programs to empower individuals, he said.

He has appointed Rochelle Bankhead to resurrect the Housing Committee, which has been inactive for several years following the death of Karla Irvine, the former executive director of Housing Opportunities Made Equal in Cincinnati who chaired the committee. Planned are workshops for new homebuyers in order to boost homeownership in the Black community. “ We are looking at a process to empower members of the African American community in purchasing homes, because owning a house is like owning a small business,'' he said. With that purchase comes pride, asset building, and an introduction to financial education, he added.