Longtime Maine NAACP leader files to run for Legislature

Rachel Talbot Ross. Photo by Troy R. Bennett/BDN

Rachel Talbot Ross. Photo by Troy R. Bennett/BDN

Rachel Talbot Ross, the longtime president of the Portland branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has filed to compete in a three-way Democratic primary for the District 40 House seat, which represents part of Portland.

Talbot Ross will face off against former lawmaker Herbert Adams and Anna Kellar. The District 40 seat is currently held by Democrat Ben Chipman, who is vacating the seat to run a primary campaign for a Portland-area Senate seat.

Talbot Ross and her family are well-known for fighting for equality in Maine. Talbot Ross’s father, Gerald Talbot, was one of several Mainers who participated in the March on Washington in 1963, when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, according to the BDN’s archives. Talbot was also the first president of the NAACP in Portland and was an advocate for the Maine Fair Housing Bill and the Maine Human Rights Act.

Among numerous accomplishments, including an honorary doctorate from the University of Southern Maine and co-authoring a book called “Maine’s Visible Black History: The First Chronicle of Its People,” Talbot became Maine’s first African American legislator when he was elected to the House in 1972. The University of Southern Maine keeps a collection of artifacts in his name to this day.

After 21 years on the job, Talbot Ross resigned her position as director of Portland’s Equality Opportunity and Multicultural Affairs Department in October 2015, according to the Portland Press Herald. Neither Talbot Ross nor the city would discuss the reasons for her resignation.

Earlier in 2015, Talbot Ross called for disciplinary action against Republican Sen. Mike Willette of Presque Isle for inflammatory posts he wrote on Facebook.

The NAACP’s Portland chapter has been operating without a charter from its parent organization since 2013.

All three Democrats in the District 40 primary have filed to run as Maine Clean Election candidates. No one from any other party has filed to run for the seat.

Tuesday is the deadline for party candidates in legislative elections to submit nomination papers to the Maine secretary of state.



Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for more than 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.