NAACP Mourns Passing of Rupert Richardson Past President & National Board Member

National Board of Directors member and President Emeritus Rupert F. Richardson, the much loved “Grand Dame” of the NAACP, died unexpectedly yesterday while decorating her new home with friends in Baton Rouge. She was 78. The NAACP extends its sincerest sympathy and support to the family of this civil rights lioness.

Rupert F. Richardson

Richardson was a former national NAACP president, serving from 1992 to1995. She held a vice presidency position in the NAACP from 1984 to 1991 and had a 16-year tenure as president of the Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP.

Known for her elegance, grace and fanciful hats, Richardson was one of the longest serving national board members, was well respected and widely regarded as an expert on Robert's Rules of Order and NAACP policy. She also chaired the NAACP Health Committee, a position she held since 1999.

“Rupert Richardson served the NAACP in many, many capacities; but she will be best remembered as a tireless crusader for justice in Louisiana,” said NAACP National Board of Directors Chairman Julian Bond.

Until her death, Richardson was a member of the NAACP Special Contribution Fund Board of Trustees. She was first elected to the NAACP National Board of Directors in 1981. Other positions she held within the NAACP over the years included national Life Membership Chair, president and treasurer of the Crisis and member of the NAACP National Housing Corporation Board.  

“Rupert was selfless in the sacrifices she made on behalf of the less fortunate and disenfranchised,” said NAACP Interim President & CEO Dennis Courtland Hayes. “The African American community and the NAACP are today a bit poorer because of her passing.”

Richardson's passion was healthcare. In the late 1990s, she served for a time under then Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bobby Jindal, the state’s current governor. Her professional career in Louisiana state government spanned nearly 30 years with positions in health and employment agencies. She started her own healthcare consulting firm in 1994 after retiring as the state’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Alcohol and Drug Abuse.   

Richardson’s other community work included serving 16 years on Louisiana’s Commission on Human Rights, the Louisiana Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the advisory board of the Louisiana State University School of Social Welfare and the Governor’s Council for Drug Free Schools.   

“This is a great loss spiritually and physically,” said NAACP Louisiana State Conference President Ernest L. Johnson who had spoken with Richardson just two hours before her passing. The pair began working together in 1983 when they filed a lawsuit to change the state public schools’ superintendent selection process. “She will be greatly missed,” Johnson added. “We endured a lot of good fights and had plans to continue our efforts at improving the living conditions in Louisiana.”

Richardson and Johnson were coordinating ‘The Black Assembly,’ a gathering of African American officials and community leaders from across Louisiana expected to draw 500 activists and policymakers to the Southern University Law Center tomorrow.

Richardson earned her bachelor’s degree from Southern University and her master’s in counseling and psychology from McNeese State University. A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the Coalition of 100 Black Women, she attended Shiloh Baptist Church in Baton Rouge.

Richardson was a mother and grandmother. Arrangement details are forthcoming. However services and celebrations of her life will take place late next week in Baton Rouge and in her hometown of Lake Charles, LA.

Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors.

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