Friday, July 17, 2009

NAACP At 100: 'New Call For A New Century'

by Hazel Trice Edney
NNPA News Service

In a grand centennial meeting this week that drew thousands to New York City — the founding place of the NAACP — President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous proclaimed that the next move of the civil rights organization against new "layers of racism" will be to strengthen its inner ranks by becoming a majority through coalitions.

"We will change. Not for the sake of change itself, but for the sake of growth," Jealous said in remarks rendered at the convention Monday evening.

"We must be able to march forth as a majority and that means we have to be about organizing coalitions, maximizing our power to build bridges of understanding and mobilizing our entire rainbow of champions for social change."

Jealous was specific about his strategic vision.

"We will invest in research to ensure that what is obvious to us cannot be questioned by any. We will train and retrain with a focus on organizing even better and smarter than we are already. We will forge new coalitions...big, broad, effective strange-bedfellow coalitions. We will build campaigns that capture the imaginations of generations. We will embrace technology," he said.

"But we can't do this work alone. So today, we issue a new call for a new century."

That call comes in what is historically among the most exciting years for African Americans. Jealous reflected on the election of President Barack Obama as the nation's first African-American president, but also underscored how his election spotlights the vestiges of racism that still prevail.

"Jan. 20, 2009, was a day when hopes were fulfilled, when dreams came true, when ancestors sacrifices were remembered with tears of joy; in short, it was a day when the dream of this country seemed within reach of every family," said Jealous, 36, the youngest president to lead the civil rights organization.

"And then January 21st came, like every day thereafter, and families woke up to a new morning and were facing the same questions: Why can't Dad find a job? Why does Mom have to work so many jobs just to make ends meet? Why is my family's dream being foreclosed on? Why are our schools an embarrassment to everything this country stands for? Why are so many of our children... and mothers... and fathers dying of AIDS?"

Jealous stated as fact that in many cities "too many families" go to bed hoping that they have found places to sleep that are out of the way of random gunfire.

"We woke up on January 21st to the fact that we have one black man in the White House, but we have one million in prison," he said. "And so...we can't wait for someday, somehow — we need real change right here, right now."

It was Feb. 12, 1909, the 100th year after the birthday of Abraham Lincoln, that a racially diverse coalition met in an apartment in lower Manhattan "to issue an historic call to action," Jealous recounted the founding of the NAACP.

That historic call to action read in part: "Hence, we call upon all the believers in democracy to join in a national conference for the discussion of present evils, the voicing of protests and the renewal of the struggle for civil and political liberty."

Jealous said the organizers — black and white, Christian and Jew, men and women — shared a commitment to fulfilling the promise of equality that was guaranteed by the Emancipation Proclamation, the 13th amendment, 14th amendment and the 15th amendment of the Constitution. A few months later, a few hundred more — many of them leaders of the black church — joined the original group at the first NAACP convention, where they vowed to "take the campaign back to the field."

That field now consists of about a half million members across the nation and millions more who benefit from the NAACP's battles.

Jealous cited several battles that are close to being won.

"Before we meet again, we will deliver the first woman of color to a seat on the Supreme Court. We will pass major reforms in states like California and North Carolina. We will outlaw racial profiling everywhere. And in Savannah, Ga., where our local volunteers and national staff have delivered more than 65,000 signatures calling for the DA to reopen the case, the tide is turning every day — we will save Troy Davis' life and get the real killer off the streets."

The death penalty case of Troy Davis —involving a list of witnesses who have recanted their original testimonies against him — has been hard-fought by the NAACP under Jealous' tenure.

In Jealous' view, institutional racism within the criminal justice system is the next layer of racism that has come after "presumed inferiority."

"They said we just weren't good enough to be the quarterback, the coach or the CEO. But over the past 40 years, we've blown that fallacy out of the water — Oprah, General Colin Powell, Tony Dungy and Mike Tomlin, Tiger Woods, Ken Chennault, Barack Obama, Dorothy Height, and Venus and Serena Williams.

"But racism is like an onion — once you peel back one layer, there's another layer underneath. Peel back the layer of presumed inferiority and you find that today the primary justification for racism is presumed criminality," he said.

Because of the new layers that are increasingly obscure, yet just as damaging to America's progress, the NAACP is also clarifying its focus, Jealous said. He encouraged the audience to broaden its vision as well.

Jealous concluded with a message of hope.

"We are winning...And when we win — and we always win in the end — we win really, really big."

1 comment:

dudleysharp said...

Troy Davis: Both sides need to be told
Dudley Sharp, contact info below

Anyone interested in justice will demand a fair, thorough look at both sides of this or any case. Here is the side that the pro Troy Davis faction is, intentionally, not presenting.

(1) Davis v Georgia, Georgia Supreme Court, 3/17/08
Full ruling

" . . . the majority finds that 'most of the witnesses to the crime who have allegedly recanted have merely stated that they now do not feel able to identify the shooter.' "One of the affidavits 'might actually be read so as to confirm trial testimony that Davis was the shooter.' "

The murder occurred in 1989.


"After an exhaustive review of all available information regarding the Troy Davis case and after considering all possible reasons for granting clemency, the Board has determined that clemency is not warranted."

"The Board has now spent more than a year studying and considering this case. As a part of its proceedings, the Board gave Davis’ attorneys an opportunity to present every witness they desired to support their allegation that there is doubt as to Davis’ guilt. The Board heard each of these witnesses and questioned them closely. In addition, the Board has studied the voluminous trial transcript, the police investigation report and the initial statements of all witnesses. The Board has also had certain physical evidence retested and Davis interviewed."

(3) A detailed review of the extraordinary consideration that Davis was given for all of his claims,
by Chatham County District Attorney Spencer Lawton

Troy Davis' claims are undermined, revealing the dishonesty of the Davis advocates . Look, particularly, at pages 4-7, which show the reasoned, thoughtful and generous reviews of Davis' claims, as well a how despicable the one sided cynical pro Troy Davis effort is.

(4) Officer Mark Allen MacPhail: The family of murdered Officer MacPhail fully believes that Troy Davis murdered their loved one and that the evidence is supportive of that opinion.

Not simply an emotional and understandable plea for justice, but a detailed factual review of the case.

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.