Leroy Clemons was re-elected president of the Neshoba County Branch of the NAACP at the organization's biennial elections last week at the Westside Community Center.

Clemons, a Philadelphia native, was first elected president of the Neshoba County NAACP in 2003.

He is currently serving as director of community relations with the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi.

"During his 10 years of service to the local chapter of the NAACP, he has earned a reputation as a fierce advocate for social justice, who is squarely focused on addressing the issues of today as well as employing strategies to address the issues of tomorrow," said Dr. Susan Glisson, director of the Winter Institute.

Clemons called his re-election a great honor.

"It is a great honor to be re-elected president of this esteemed organization," he said. "I am blessed with the opportunity to lead the fight for civil and human rights for another two years."

He said education was the key to the future success of the community.

"We're looking at a generational and demographic shift in our communities," he said. "The wisdom of those who stood the test of time, their untold contributions, sacrifices and investments in us got us to this point, now it is up to us to take it the rest of the way. The educating of our youth is the key to the future success of our community."

Clemons said he planned to focus on five key issues in Neshoba County over the next two years: economic empowerment, educational equality, criminal justice, public safety and voting and political participation.

"Much of our ability to shape our community rests at the ballot box," he said. "Voting and holding elected officials accountable is critical in helping to reverse the alarming trends in our communities related to economic sustainability, a high-quality, diverse and well-funded educational system, crime, relations with law enforcement and the criminal justice system," Clemons said.

"We need to be 'tough on crime' but we also need to be 'smart on crime' and address the soaring incarceration rates and vast disparity in sentencing of our youth. I am outraged when I read about a 24-year-old male receiving life in prison for drug possession. The punishment seems egregiously excessive. The great irony here is that the proponents of this type of justice are so unwilling to learn from the past," he said.

Others elected to serve as officers were:

Eva Tisdale, first vice president; Deaunda Culberson, second vice president; Shaun Seales, third vice president; TanTaneshia Houston, secretary; Erica Clemons, assistant secretary; Florine Holmes, treasurer; and Darryl Young, assistant treasurer.

Clemons and his wife Stephanie have two daughters, Jessica Griffin and Erica Clemons. They also have a grandson, Jonathan Griffin.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization.