February 5, 2007

Is the NAACP relevant?


Are you a member of the NAACP? I remember when I was in junior high school my grandfather gave me a gift of a youth membership into the NAACP. The best thing about the membership was that it came with a plaque that I immediately nailed to the wall of my room. I think that was the last time that the NAACP was relevant in my life.

Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the historical value of the NAACP. However, during my career the organization hasn't been relevant. They do make for interesting soap opera at times. I was a fan of Ben Chavis when he led the NAACP. Ben Chavis became a hero of sorts for me with his leadership role in the Million Man March. However his rise and fall from grace with the NAACP was sad to see.

In 1995, the same year her second husband died of prostate cancer, Myrlie Evers-Williams became the first woman to chair the NAACP. She was elected by one vote ... and her term of office was non-descript in many ways.

On February 20, 1996, Kweisi Mfume resigned his seat in Congress to become the president of the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He said that he could do more for civil rights than in Congress saying, "Given the polarization in the country, the levels of crime and hatred, given the despair that I see in the eyes of young people, I thought that I could do more at the NAACP." After one year of leadership, Mfume had erased the NAACP's $4.5 million debt. He stayed in office until 2004 when he decided to run for the Maryland senate seat.

Next, the organization selects a business executive, Bruce Gordon, to run the organization. After 19 months ... he resigns. It appears that he couldn't get along with the 60+ person board of directors.

Finally, it should be noted that the NAACP branch here in Cincinnati, OH is becoming a soap opera. The branch recently won the privilege of hosting the 2008 national convention here in Cincinnati. This is big deal because of the problem that many African Americans have with the way we are treated in this town. You may have heard of the 'boycott' that was called after the riots/uprising that made international news in April 1991. Anyhow, there is now a giant debate about who won the recent election for president of the NAACP Cincinnati branch. I understand that recent decision from is to have a new election.

Anyhow, I say all of that to say ... I've not seen how the NAACP is relevant to my life as an entrepreneur. I know that they have a legacy that is strong. But, it seems to say a lot when a man with the credentials of Bruce Gordon is brought to his knees in only 19 months. Is the NAACP relevant to you?

5 comments:

James said...

Nice post and it is a sad story for all of us who respect the past deeds of the NAACP.60 member board is 5 times too many.Mr Gordon leaving will be harmful to fund raising. I have never been a member of the NAACP, I always saw them as passive compared to more revolutionary movements.Move out the entire board and start over with younger leadership and a new name.

Villager said...

I wonder how many Villagers are actually members of the NAACP in their respective city? I know that the one here in Cincinnati OH is going through the serious issues with leadership ... mostly a case of a battle for power in anticipation of the 2008 NAACP conference coming to our town.

Gunfighter said...

I tried like hell to join my local NAACP about 10 years ago.

The fuddy duddies weren't interested in ANYONE who wasn't a babptist preacher or part of the we-will-overcome set.

They were NOT interested in progress at all.

Villager said...

Gunfighter ... now I ain't arguing with your point. But, I 'spose that 10 years might be enough time for some change at your local branch level. Do you see them with the same attitude in 2007 as they had in 1997?

peace, Villager

Gunfighter said...

Unfortunately, yes.

The same people are in charge, with the same game plan.