NAACP members chose Dr. Elenora Woods as the organization's new local president on Tuesday.
"I'm very humbled tonight and I know that this position is going to take a team effort to move this community forward so I am putting together a team that is going to advise me," she said after the votes were counted.
The dentist and former NAACP housing chairwoman follows James R. Mapp who held the leadership position off and on for nearly three decades.
Mapp, 87, led a 26-year lawsuit against Chattanooga city schools to desegregate the school system. Recently he led the NAACP in negotiations with CARTA to increase pay and positions of some minority employees.
Woods, who is also president of the Alton Park Development Corp., defeated local businessman and retired postal worker Warbritt Lowery in a 27 to 20 vote Tuesday night.
But Woods says progress will come with people working collectively.
"Chattanooga is like one body," she said. "And when you have a part diseased or broke, you've got to fix it so that it can all work together," she said.
She wants to build race relations, bring civil justice and equality, she said.
She is also concerned about affordable housing.
All other NAACP races were uncontested.
NAACP executive committee members elected Tuesday include Quenston Coleman, City Councilman Yusuf Hakeem, Eva Johnson, Marshall B. Lusk, Gerald A. Mason, Eunice Rooks, Henry E. Slayton Jr., Courtney Warner and Joe Rowe.
Participation during this election doubled that in the past election when Mapp took office.
Civil rights pioneers of the 1960s are passing the torch to new leaders, said Joe Rowe, an NAACP executive committee member.
Rowe sat at one table with Mapp and former NAACP President Eddie Holmes, while younger leaders in the organization, Lowery, Woods and NAACP Secretary Eric Atkins sat at another.
Said Woods, "Being a leader is about being able to take conflict and resolve it. That's what we're going to do."
Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 757-6431.