I no longer question the relevance of the organization. First, one of my colleagues in The AfroSpear is president of the NAACP Wichita Branch and his consistent advocacy on the part of our people is beyond reproach. Second, I've seen the continued evolution of the NAACP Cincinnati Branch as it relates to matters of economic development as well as social justice.
However, I was still surprised to receive invitation to join NAACP president Ben Jealous on a conference call he wanted to hold with some members of the afrosphere. African American Political Pundit and the Super Spade were other bloggers on the call. Mr. Jealous had Hilary Shelton (DC Bureau Director), Carla Sims (Communications) and Nicole Hayes (Media Relations) on the call from the NAACP.
Mr. Jealous indicated that he wants to create a more direct connection with Black people through the evolving blogger networks. He wants to see NAACP use more Web 2.0 tools to communicate with his stakeholders.
The four topics Mr. Jealous wanted to update us on included:
- 2008 Presidential Election - NAACP effort to register voters as part of the 'Upload to Uplift' initiative was a success. 17,288 people registered to vote via this online project at the time of our call. Mr. Jealous noted that he planned to be in North Carolina in the coming week to encourage early voting. I was pleased to learn that he planned to contact the #1-ranked Black blogger, Pam Spaulding, during his visit to North Carolina.
- Black Radio - NAACP wrote FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to ask that the FCC investigate Arbitron's Portable People Meter (PPM) methodology. Jealous says the PPM methodology "dramatically undercounts and misrepresents the listening habits of racial and ethnic minorities -- so much so that the continuing viability of minority radio stations is seriously threatened."
- Foreclosure Crisis - Evidently, the NAACP has been knee-deep in this issue since 2007 when it became apparent that 52% of the African American families with subprime mortgages purchased in 2005 were likely to be in foreclosure by 2009. NAACP expressed concern about predatory lendors and shysters that underplayed the balloon payments and interest-rate escalators. NAACP is monitoring how the Treasury Department implements the $700 billion bailout plan to ensure that African Americans families benefit as much as others. African American Political Pundit asked the NAACP to take a look at the contracts purchased with the $700 billion funds to ensure that 8(a) and MBE-certified corporations get a chance to compete whenever possible.
- Texas Visit - Mr. Jealous noted that he was heading to Texas this weekend. He planned to meet with NAACP members and leaders impacted by Hurricane Ike. He also wanted to get a first-hand account of the Brandon McClelland case in Paris, TX. We asked him to keep us informed of his findings.
Overall, I found Bro. Jealous to be well-informed and willing to empower his staff. Also, the mere idea that he wants to engage with the afrosphere (Black bloggers) is a powerful indication that he "gets it" when it comes to leading a large organization in the 21st century.
I look forward to future discussions between the NAACP and Ben Jealous. Villagers, let me know if you have issues you want covered at the next conference call between NAACP and Black bloggers.