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Saturday, April 5, 2008

Civil Rights In America, "A Chain of Change"

AAPP: Yesterday I wrote about listening in pure amazement and disgust to a broadcast over at one of the best bloggers in America, (also from Texas) Gina McCauley from the blog What About Our Daughters. As I noted, she was joined by her roundtable, along with Adora Obi Nweze, President, Fl State Conference NAACP and a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors and Richard "We Will Not Be Blamed" McIntire, the NAACP national spokesperson. The NAACP was invited to speak about their decision to support the bail request for the release of black boys who are alleged to have brutally raped, sodomized and beat a mother and son on June 18.

I discussed how I felt after listening to the state and national NAACP representatives make fools out of themselves. I pointed out I came to the same conclusion that Lee Walker and others have about what I termed a now disgraceful national organization. I posed questions like,
When will black folks hold the NAACP Accountable? When will the NAACP hold itself accountable? When will black folks as the NAACP Board Chair to resign, and take that 60 Member Board with him? When will black women start a national organization that really fights for black women and their families? WHEN?

Well I must honestly say I did not know that The Washington Post (H/T Dallas Progress for the link) would provide additional answers to the questions raised, and in some ways pose additional questions for Black America and all America in its article, Civil Rights Groups see Gradual End of Their Era - Many groups that helped propel movement struggling, some have vanished
. The article written by By Darryl Fears of the Washington Post highlights how after "Forty years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, the storied organizations that propelled the modern-day civil rights movement alongside him are either struggling to stay relevant or struggling to stay alive.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. stands outside the Southern Christian Leadership Conference office in 1967.

in Atlanta, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) -- which was founded in 1957 after Alabama's Montgomery bus boycott and was led by King through the most difficult days of the movement -- clings to life. Three years ago, utilities shut off the lights and the phones when the group did not pay its bills.

In New York, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which helped shape the movement's philosophy after adopting Mohandas K. Gandhi's doctrine of nonviolent protest, is scarcely known outside Manhattan. CORE conceded that it now has about 10 percent of the 150,000 members it listed in the 1960s.

In Baltimore, the near-century-old NAACP, which tore down racial barriers with deft lawyering in the courts, recently cut a third of its administrative staff because of budget shortfalls. For decades, the NAACP asserted that it was the largest civil rights group, with about half a million dues-paying members, but one of its former presidents recently acknowledged that it has fewer than 300,000.

Some groups have disappeared, such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, which organized the Freedom Rides that drew sympathy to their cause and which was later led by firebrands such as Stokley Carmichael and H. Rap Brown. Others, such as the National Urban League, remain viable but have diminished visibility.

"They don't really exist now," said the Rev. C.T. Vivian, a former interim director of the SCLC, who spoke with pain in his voice. He added: "They're just names. There has been so little activity from so many of them. SCLC rose from the dead, but we're not so certain life has been blown into it yet. And the NAACP is vital, but they're not doing what I'd expect."

The groups' decline has been slow but inexorably driven by factors both within and outside their control. They were the subjects of government spying and harassment. A proliferation of black organizations with niche audiences -- lawyers, engineers, accountants, journalists -- took away middle-class members. The rise in the 1970s of groups such as the Black Panthers, which espoused a melodramatic militancy, made them seem tepid."

AAPP: The article provides commentary from many former insiders of the NAACP like
JoAnn Watson, a Detroit City Council member who ran the local NAACP office in the 1990s, who said the organizations are living off their reputations. "They benefit from the name that has been earned by the blood of the ancestors."

Check out what other former NAACP and Civil Rights organization official had to say in the article:

Michael Meyers, a former NAACP executive, recalled when the group's initials inspired fear. "People answered the phones; they thought they were going to be sued," he said. "But not now."

The drop in stature may have been inevitable, said Roger Wilkins, an assistant attorney general under President Lyndon B. Johnson who advised the groups. "Black people didn't have opportunities in the '30s and '40s and '50s," he said. "They couldn't be mayors, so they became presidents of black colleges or leaders of civil rights organizations. But at the end of the '60s, all kinds of pathways opened up, and civil rights organizations had to compete for leadership."

With advances in education, employment and buying power, some have argued, civil rights organizations have become passe. But group leaders bristle at the notion.

A report released this week by the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank, said that black America remains troubled. Despite marginal advances in education and jobs, the income gap between black and white Americans has grown so large since King's death that it would take more than 500 years for black people to catch up under the current pace of change, the report said. The divide between black and white wealth is so wide that achieving parity would take more than 600 years.

Organization leaders said that they have made mistakes since King's death but that they were also weakened by outside forces. As the White House was enacting civil rights laws, the FBI was infiltrating organizations under the secret Counter Intelligence Program known as COINTELPRO. After the 1970s, media attention turned away from the civil rights movement, the group leaders said."

AAPP: Get this folks, in the article the NAACP, Chairman Julian Bond said the future "looks good." He contends what I term his "board of the living dead" (OK not all the board) helped lead efforts to reauthorize the voting rights and civil rights acts, and provided relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. The article also reports that "NAACP officials say that their voter registration drives led to a surge of black voters in the past two presidential elections and that the group continues to fight discrimination in the courts, as it did with Brown v. Board of Education." More of the article HERE

AAPP: Whatever Julian Bond, Whatever! You and the other National NAACP 60 member "board of the living dead" are still believing your own bogus press releases." the NAACP has been Missing In Action on so many issues.

The questions remain, that I posed in my previous post: When will black folks hold the NAACP Accountable? When will the NAACP hold itself accountable? When will black folks ask the NAACP Board Chair to resign, and take that 60 Member Board with him? Maybe the Wichita NAACP President would consider becoming the National Chaiman, replacing Julian Bond. When will black women start a national organization that really fights for black women and their families. That time, is now! Groups like the Color of Change, The Afrospear (black bloggers group), Black Political and Internet social activist are now taking a leadership role. A Black While Brown Conference is planned for Atlanta, Georgia spearheaded by Gina McCauley from the blog What About Our Daughters. There is is now a sea of change in Black Political and social leadership in Black communities across America and around the world. Black bloggers are now leading the way. A word of caution to blacks ready to take the lead. There are still groups and organizations, including the media that will attack our new efforts. Let us stay focused. United we stand divided we will fall like the Civil Rights groups and political leaders we all know about.

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