Randy McIlwain, NBC 5 News
Jennifer Thibeaux is conducting a hunger strike in protest of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce's recent board election.
A former officer of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce is on a hunger strike in protest of the organization's recent board election.
Jennifer Thibeaux, a former DBCC executive officer and parliamentarian, was on day seven of her hunger strike Wednesday. She said she hopes to draw attention to rampant problems in the organization.
"Each day, I get a little more tired, but my convictions kind of give me energy," she said.
Thibeaux said the DBCC violated its own rules in the election of its board of directors.
"From the start of the nomination process all the way throughout, it was illegally conducted," she said.
She resigned her position, citing two concerns: the nominating process and the vote itself.
Thibeaux said the June board election was a "fake" election because three members of the nominating committee were nominated in violation of the group's bylaws.
She said the group's constitution and bylaws say board members are first nominated by an appointed nominating committee but committee members are not permitted to serve on the board or as elected officers until one year after serving on the committee.
"I call that the great fake vote," Thibeaux said. "It was a fake vote to create fake officers and elections."
Thibeaux also said election was held by voice vote and not by ballot, as specified by the group's bylaws.
"It's just unethical," she said. "It's absolutely unethical."
Thibeaux said the DBCC's inability to follow its own rules brings into question the organization's ability to lead its 2,200 members through tough economic times that have made owning small businesses tough and has nearly doubled the rate of unemployment among African-Americans.
Officers and ranking members of the DBCC did not comment on either of Thibeaux's concerns when contacted.
Thibeaux said she began her hunger strike to draw attention to the DBCC's practices and force the organization to change and adhere to its bylaws -- or starve herself trying.
"I will do this hunger strike," she said. "Unethical practices are the silent killer of communities and of our economy."
She has posted numerous videos on YouTube and Ustream detailing her hunger strike and the reasons for it.
Thibeaux said she has lost 12 pounds so far but is consulting her doctor regularly.
She said she went on her hunger strike because minority business owners are starved for the leadership, advocacy and new opportunities that the DBCC promises to provide.
The DBCC was founded in 1926 and is the oldest, largest organization of its kind in the world.