York NAACP president aims to expand reach, engage youth

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
Richard Craighead and his sons Richard, 12, and Christian, 5, pose outside Voni Grimes Gym Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. Craighead was named the York NAACP president in January. Bill Kalina photo

Above everything else, Richard Craighead is first a father who wants to be a beacon of inspiration to his two sons, Richard Jr. and Christian. 

Craighead avoids labeling himself a community leader, but his influence has swelled now that he's the new president of York NAACP.

"I just want to be labeled as someone who is active in this community," Craighead said. "I think that if people took on the notion that just to be active in your community you can create so much change — even if you're only giving three hours a week."

Replacing former York NAACP President Sandra Thompson, Craighead aims to further expand the local organization's reach by connecting with people, groups and government agencies about issues that that directly affect people of color.

Primarily, Craighead said, he hopes to strengthen relationships with educators, the York County District Attorney's Office and the York City Police Department. 

Richard Craighead poses outside Voni Grimes Gym Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. He was named the York NAACP president in January. Bill Kalina photo

"These are things that both affect negatively and positively people of color, and so these are the areas we want to focus in on," Craighead said, adding that these conversations will be part of the foundation for establishing concrete, actionable plans. 

More recently, Craighead said, he has been working with York College to schedule meetings to better figure out the needs of students. 

Specifically, York NAACP aims to organize educational programming and scholarships to advance the learning of students.

"It's that old cliché that they are our future — it's true though," he said. "They are the people that will shape the next 20, 30 and 40 years of our lives."

In addition to building relationships, Craighead said another main goal is to increase the NAACP's social media presence and bolster the organization's digital footprint.

Richard Craighead was named the York NAACP president in January. Bill Kalina photo

"I think a big misconception that the NAACP has is that we haven't been an active presence in the community," Craighead said. "We just always haven't publicized what we do — but the work has been done."

Interested individuals who want to join the York NAACP can visit the national organization's website at https://naacp.org/. Regardless of race, Craighead said, he urges all interested York County residents to register.

Thompson, the chapter's former president, said she is excited to see Craighead step into his new role as a young member of the community who will be able to reach a wider demographic of students and young adults.

She said she first took note of Craighead's dedication to the community after seeing him develop programming, specifically for his nonprofit Inclusive Arts Movement.

Craighead was nominated and voted in as the organization's new president on Jan. 23.

Thompson said she is excited to see Craighead continue the NAACP's work in challenging racial, economic, educational and criminal justice inequalities.

"I would like to see (Richard's) visions come forward," Thompson said. "Whenever your time has passed, you want to see them exceed you. Whatever your ideas were, they should have bigger and better ideas."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.