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Thursday, February 12, 2009

The NAACP 100 Years... What NEXT?

The Washington Post and The Root have great articles on The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People which turns 100 today. The writer of the Washington Post article, Krissha Thompson looks at some very good and provocative questions confronting the group like: How relevant is the NAACP in the age of Barack Obama? Now that an African American occupies the nation's highest office, is there still a crying need for an organization founded in 1909 after a half-dozen black men were lynched in Springfield, Ill., their homes burned to the ground? More HERE

In the article, notes that Benjamin Jealous, the 36-year-old activist who became president of the association six months ago, has been taking on such questions eagerly. He argues that black Americans are really facing a new beginning as the nation's oldest and most prestigious civil rights organization crosses into its second century.

Jealous says the NAACP already has more influence in the Obama administration than any civil rights group did during George W. Bush's term. The association's lobbyist, Hilary Shelton, had over a dozen meetings with Obama transition officials and has already been to the White House a handful of times to discuss the group's agenda, which includes ensuring fair distribution of federal bailout funds, reducing black unemployment, reducing racial disparities in the criminal justice system and ensuring that minority children have access to good schools.

The Writer of The Root Article, Dayo Olopade highlights how the NAACP struggles to remain relevant in a time of shifting attitudes about race, politics and how to best achieve equality, a look back at the rise of The Crisis, and its period of dominance, offers insight into some potential strategies for the future of an organization that many believe is past its prime. More HERE

AAPP: Hmmm... "The NAACP already has more influence in the Obama administration than any civil rights group did during George W. Bush's term." Well that's not any great big deal, you see George Bush refused to meet with the NAACP for five straight years. If it has so much influence, where is the discussion regarding the poor in America, the need for a real green technology jobs training program for those low income people out of work? Where is the conversations that A. Philliph Randolph and Dr. Leon Sullivan would have with the administration, and where is it in the Stimulus Plan?
Where is the public conversation about the report by United for a Fair Economy which found that the subprime lending crisis has cost the greatest wealth loss to "people of color' in modern United States history. The loss--documented in a report titled "Foreclosed: State of the Dream 2008"--is estimated to be between $164 and $213 billion. More HERE Where is the public conversation about the Gaps in black construction jobs and how the stimulus may work for all but black men?

It's interesting that, as reported by the Washington Post, the NAACP's Jealous, the youngest leader the NAACP has ever selected has increased the NAACP's list of cellphone numbers from 5,000 to 30,000, grown its e-mail list to 400,000. "The only problem is that when Change.org and Change.gov were allowing citizen input into American priorities and were debating real issues impacting America, those 400,000 email voices from the NAACP Chapters around America were not heard on Change.org or Change.gov" I and other black bloggers have written a number of times regarding the NAACP's own battle over it's future. I know I have been critical of the old guard for some time, as has Blogger Francis L. Holland and others, who have laid out in very clear terms our concerns regarding the future of the organization.

Almost 9 months ago, I re-joined the NAACP after many years (I used to be the Youth Affairs Board member at the Boston Branch of the NAACP back in the day). I have been eager to work with my local and national NAACP but have not received returned phone calls or responses to emails. Surprise, Surprise!

but i do have the audicity to hope, that maybe, just maybe, my local NAACP branch will respond to an email, my offer to help in any way I can. But then again, I guess I'm one of those 400,000 email addresses collected by the NAACP, but not engaged by the NAACP itself.

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