By Tammi Davis
In the June 1, 2017 publication of the Gary Crusader, the relevancy and decision-making intellect of the NAACP was called into question by, wait for it, a Black Right Wing Conservative apologist by the name of Raynard Jackson. In Trump-like, conservative-laced rhetoric, he described the organization as the Hillary Clinton of the Civil Rights Movement, a sell-out to the liberalism and being out of sync with what the Black community believes and wants.
And all of this, because the national board of directors decided to make a change at the top. Since he’s such an aficionado on what the Black community needs, perhaps Mr. Jackson should have explained how Right Wing Conservatives sync with the Black com- munity, or better yet, are in sync with America. Despite the words of Mr. Jackson, who wrote that the NAACP was “no longer relevant to the Black community,” the NAACP today is not only relevant, it is relentless in its efforts to ensure the political, educational, social and economic rights of all persons.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909 by a brave group of individuals – men and women, Blacks and whites, and Protestants, Catholics and Jews – who weathered through the storms of lynchings, personal threats and attacks, and Jim Crow to establish a solid foundation upon which we stand to fight against oppression, suppression, injustice and ignorance.
For 108 years, the NAACP has been the leading and most credible voice arguing for fairness, equality and justice in the Black Community. For many benefit from the battles fought and won by African-Americans. Regardless of leadership changes, the NAACP can celebrate a vita of unabridged and uninterrupted service to, and on behalf of, the Black Community.
The structure of America’s largest and oldest civil rights organization is designed to ensure that the NAACP represents the issues of the community from the local to the national levels.
Local NAACP Branches as well as its State Conferences have the autonomy to address local civil rights infractions and community injustices in addition to and in some cases, irrespective of, what may be set as the organization’s convention-approved priorities. By way of organizational protocol, local branches can submit resolutions that address both local and national issues to the national convention that it wants the delegates to support as an NAACP priority.
During my tenure as president of the Gary NAACP Branch, I presented and defended a resolution of our local branch to end the war in Iraq on the floor at our national convention. Although the delegates did not adopt our local resolution, they approved a variation thereof. That action did not prevent us from maintaining our efforts to bring attention to our opposition to the War in Iraq. We moved forward while still supporting some of the national priorities of the organization.
To describe the NAACP as the Hillary Clinton of the Civil Rights Movement as Mr. Jackson inferred in his editorial, is as oxymoronic as it gets. How typical of a Conservative – and a Black one at that – to attempt to discredit and malign the work and accomplishments of a national civil rights organization and the first female presidential nominee of any political party, by presenting the reference of the two as negative.
What Mr. Jackson fails to state is that the civil rights movement challenged the status quo of America like Hillary Clinton did. The movement opened doors and broke down barriers for not just Black people but all people of color. And the Movement paved a way for women, like Hillary Clinton, to benefit from the pains and profits of the people that believed in it to the point of self-sacrifice and not self-indulgence. The same can be said of the NAACP, which had already been in existence for over 40 years before the “official period” of the civil rights movement was mobilized.
The family of true freedom fighters within the NAACP does not talk outside the house. So, it is no surprise that Mr. Jackson would reference only what he has been told, and not be able to speak from direct experience.
If his strategy of getting more Blacks into the Right Wing Conservative Movement includes disparaging the work of the NAACP, then he is as deranged and demented as is reflected in his party’s leadership throughout all levels of government.
The NAACP is not a perfect organization but what association that has been in existence for over a century is perfect or even close. It is not for sale and has not been purchased for 20 pieces of silver. It cannot be compartmentalized by one person or a group thereof, even if it’s a group of more than 60 individuals from various demographic and geographic backgrounds.
With local branches across the U.S. speaking for the people and issues of their respective cities, towns, college campuses and states, the NAACP is the juggernaut that still speaks truth to power, for and in, the Black communities. Although at times, it may speak softly to only those who have turned a deaf ear to equality and justice, like states that violate the Voting Rights Act or major corporations that discriminate against people of color for hiring and promotions, the NAACP still carries a big stick, known to others as the Washington Bureau, its Youth Councils, the ACT-SO Program, or individual board members, local branch presidents and state conference presidents with the resources and relationships to make things happen.
Tammi Davis is a former president of the Gary NAACP Branch. She served from 2005 to 2008 and still advocates for political, social and economic justice for the Black Community. Tammi has over 18 years experience in working in progressive positions in Labor, Procurement, Diversity and Economic Development.