SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Amid controversy, Shreveport NAACP Chapter President Michael Lafitte has stepped down effective Jan. 1, and Montrell Whitaker has been appointed interim president.
Lafitte’s resignation, came on the heels of a December meeting at which several local NAACP board members called for him to relinquish his position as president, but Lafitte did not budge until recently.
In addition to serving as president of the Shreveport Chapter of the NAACP, LaFitte gained national recognition after he formed “Dads on Duty,” with other fathers and interested men, following a number of fights at Southwood Highschool. The men patrolled the school in shifts to assure the students were safe.
LaFitte and other members of the group were interviewed on national networks, garnering the interest of actor Will Smith, who treated the entire student body of Southwood High School – 1,500 students – to an early viewing of his latest movie, “King Richard.”
But controversy arose after Lafitte’s leadership came into question after issues arose regarding alleged sub-standard conditions at a local apartment complex LaFitte manages, prompting some board members of the Local NAACP to call for LaFitte’s resignation.
Sunday, Michael McClanahan, president of the Louisiana NAACP State Conference, said LaFitte willingly stepped down and “could have rode it out,” but others weren’t so sure.
Alvin Oliver, Shreveport NAACP assistant treasurer, asked, “How can you do that? How can you serve two masters? How can you be the one in the same president of NAACP and then the same person that’s allegedly oppressing these people with these slum conditions, this abuse that they said they were suffering.”
And although McClanahan said LaFitte willingly stepped down, Oliver said in December, he spoke with McClanahan about LaFitte’s role in the organization
“He said he told Michael Lafitte to step down, he said Michael LaFitte’s comment to him was that he ‘needed time to think about it,'” Oliver said.
In an interview on Sunday, however, McClanahan said LaFitte “spoke to me and told me on Dec. 16 that for reasons unbeknownst to me that he wanted to resign and work on some other stuff. I told the man look here, I’m standing behind you whatever decision you make – that’s your decision.”
McClanahan, added that being an NAACP member and then in leadership, “you have to have thick skin,” but added that LaFitte, “didn’t express to me those were the reasons that he stepped down.”
But, Oliver countered that he doesn’t think LaFitte’s stepping down was a moral decision. “I think it was pressured from the top. The president told him to step down. The people in the community that he respected told him to step down. “
Michael Williams, local NAACP board member, also believed that LaFitte was pressured to step down, but agreed that it was the right thing to do.
“His poor leadership was leading us in the wrong direction, so I commend him for his stand down, even though I believed it was done by force, and not by choice,” Williams said.
Still, on Sunday McClanahan denied asking LaFitte to vacate the local organization’s presidency.
“I spoke with Mike to tell him what’s going on and all that, and so it was up to him to make the decision if he wanted to resign or not,” McClanahan said.
He added that Lafitte didn’t resign then, but did so when he felt it was time. “He did just that and we accepted that and it became effective on Jan. 1, 2022.
McClanahan said Interim President Montrell Whitaker “is another great leader,” who said he is ready and willing to step in.
“We welcome him with open arms,” McClanahan said. “He’s already one of us, so we’re going to continue to stand behind units and people that continue to fight the oppressor, who continues to be the voice of the voiceless.”
After Lafitte resigned, McClanahan said he asked LaFitte to continue working with the organization as a member of the state’s economic development committee.
Note: Michael LaFitte was contacted to comment on this story, but did not respond to numerous queries.