No Richardson in this National Baptist Convention election

The National Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest African-American church group, will elect a new president next month in Memphis.

And for the first time in 20 years, Mount Vernon’s W. Franklyn Richardson won’t be running.

Richardson ran for the top job in the last THREE elections and came in second each time.

He was once vice president of the Convention and made it clear that it was a dream of his to lead the denomination, which has long been regarded as a sleeping giant of American religion. The Convention has something like 7.5 million members but makes little noise on the national scene.

As Westchesterites know, Richardson is a mover and shaker. I always felt that it would have been real interesting to see what he could do as a national leader.

But it was not to be. The Rev. William Shaw of Philadelphia, a respected, professorial minister, is finishing his second, five-year term.

The election will take place on Sept. 10.

The gathering of black Baptists is expected to draw a huge crowd, something like 30,000 people. As I was covering Richardson’s campaigns, I was fortunate to attend the Convention in New Orleans in 2004 (a year before Katrina) and in Tampa in 1999.

Since few reporters cover the Convention’s gatherings, I was repeatedly mistaken for a hotel employee at both locations.

Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.