What’s new with the NAACP? Nothing

“I thank God that most of the money that supports the NAACP comes from Black hands; a still larger proportion must so come, and we must not only support but ‘control’ this and similar organizations and hold them unwaveringly to our objects, our aims and our ideals.”

W.E.B. DuBois wrote those words in the Crisis magazine in 1915. Ironically, what was written in the Crisis has now become the crisis in the NAACP and other so-called Black organizations.

No ‘Black’ control
Established in 1909 by White folks, Blacks put their money up and supported the NAACP.

Now the NAACP and many of its local chapters would go out of business if they did not receive money from non-Black corporations and individuals whose “controlling interests” have reduced the NAACP to paper-tiger status in many of our communities.

Fast-forward to 2017. NAACP interim president Derrick Johnson has to defend the relevancy of the supposedly Black civil rights organization by saying, “If you move across this landscape and in many communities, the NAACP is the only vehicle individuals have to raise their voice and ensure that democracy exists.” If the NAACP is the “only” vehicle we have, Black folks are in a world of trouble.

Johnson said Donald Trump’s policies, statements, and actions hurt “all” Americans, and the mission of the NAACP even refers to “equality of rights of ‘all’ persons,” which is inconsistent with its name, i.e. the “advancement of colored people.”

Voting cures all?
Then Johnson pulled out that tried and true, tired and tepid NAACP mantra by saying voting remains a major subject for the NAACP going into next year’s midterm elections.

“For the first time, I can agree that this is the ‘most important election’ coming up…Voting is paramount,” he said.

He also addressed several NAACP concerns including racist statues, monuments, and flags on public property (no mention of the Edmund Pettus Bridge or Stone Mountain); the NAACP’s willingness to meet with Trump, but only to discuss policy “proposals” (not demands); and the domestic terrorism in Charlottesville, Va.

Reaching once again into the NAACP toolkit, Johnson said voting is the catalyst to improve communities and change public policy, and added this confusing statement:
“Those who have the right to vote have say. Those who don’t, don’t. Your vote is your currency. If you’re bankrupt and you go to the store, you can’t purchase anything. If you’re exercising your currency and you collect that currency with others who have your interest, you can purchase the grocery store.”

What’s he saying?
All I can say is, “SAY WHAT?” I also repeat something Abraham Maslow said: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you will see every problem as though it’s a nail.” In the NAACP’s eyes we have the same problem, so we should use the same tool, and therefore get the same results, right?

Other than Bruce Gordon, NAACP leaders have for decades told us that voting is the answer. Obviously, they have no other solution and no other tool except a ‘hammer’ to offer Black folks.

What’s next? The NAACP will help prepare and offer solutions to register voters. Don’t we know how to do that by now?

The best thing about the national NAACP is the work of Sherrilyn Ifill and her staff. I truly admire and respect her, as well as the work done by some of the branches around the country.

But other than that, to the question of “What’s new at the NAACP?” the answer is: “Absolutely nothing!”

James E. Clingman is the nation’s most prolific writer on economic empowerment for Black people.  His latest book, “Black Dollars Matter! Teach Your Dollars How To Make More Sense,” is available on his website, Blackonomics.com, and Amazon Kindle eBooks.


  1. Doulos Chapel 608 South St. Joseph Street South Bend, IN 46601
    Senior Pastor Mario Sims cell (574) 298-0110 mariolsims@gmail.com
    September 21, 2017
    Rev. Terrell A. Jackson President South Bend Branch, NAACP 914 Lincolnway West South Bend, IN 46624 southbendnaacp@peoplepc.com
    RE: Your leadership of the South Bend Branch, NAACP Tuesday, September 19, 2017, as you are aware, I attended the “Game Changers Forum” you held at the Kroc Center. I have been in prayer since that time for our Lord to give me the words to express, not my feelings, but his truth, with regard to not only that forum, but your tenure as leader of the South Bend Branch, NAACP. After Tuesday night’s forum, as a black civil rights activist here in South Bend since 1988, as Pastor and as a former member of the South Bend Branch, NAACP, I am deeply, deeply grieved and filled with Godly anger. As I sat at the forum Tuesday, this scripture came to my mind: Proverbs 25:26 “Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked.” My brother, you have not only gave way to the wicked oppressors of our people
    here without a fight, you allowed the South Bend Branch, NAACP to become impotent, and nothing more than the 1940’s era minstrel show I saw on Tuesday night. All that was lacking was dancing darkies and whites in black face make up. It was painful to watch, which is why I left before it concluded. But you have had a documented history of ignoring the injustices, discrimination, inequities, and insults our people in South Bend have had to endure at the hands of the recent leadership of the South Bend Police Department (whose Chief you featured on your panel at the forum) and the indignities heaped upon us by Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who astoundingly you allowed to open the forum and bragged about his membership!!! The stated purpose of the South Bend Branch, NAACP is the same as the national’s: “The NAACP’s principal objective is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of United States and eliminate race prejudice. The NAACP seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through the democratic processes.” Under your leadership the following has occurred, WITHOUT ONE WORD FROM YOU: (1) The South Bend Police, without a warrant, enter the home of a black family at 3:10 a.m., tase and punch their sleeping minor child. This became a international story. Officer Knepper who struck the child is still serving under the current Chief you featured on the panel. A Chief that allowed the “Armadillo” to be parked in front of the Franklin home in retaliation for them daring to fie civil suit. You did nothing; (2) The South Bend Police Tapes exploded on the scene with high ranking white police officers making racist comments and alleged to have been involved in unethical and possibly criminal behavior. The same Mayor you allowed to open the forum has actively sought to prevent those tapes from being played, in fact he paid $500,000 to the officers, one of whom, Metro Homicide Commander Tim Corbett, who admitted to calling people niggers and nigger lovers, is now running for Sheriff and the Mayor continues to use tax payer money to prevent those tapes from being played, without one word of protest from you; (3) Black South Bend Police Officers, Hackett, Ross, Will Johnson, Nate Cannon and many others have filed numerous civil rights lawsuits because of the discrimination under the same Chief you featured on your panel at the forum, who was appointed by the same Mayor you allowed to open the forum. South Bend now has the lowest number of minority officers in decades. Officers like Stokes and Diggins and others being denied well deserved promotions. They and their families were cheated out of promotions which would have increased their finances and bettered their conditions. Not one word of protest from you. (4) $1.7 billion in public works contracts in this area and ZERO to black contractors. As Executive Director of the Urban league in 1993, I held meetings to plan on how to assist the then over 20 black firms that
    included contractors O’Neal Baptiste and Murdoch, all of whom no longer exist. As for James Summers bragging about his efforts with SCORE, he is the same man that rejected a offer from me to bring in black multimillionaire, Eugene Morris, founder of EMC advertising agency a $38 million dollar black owned firm in Chicago, to give free seminars to black business and those interested in starting a black business, at my church. These seminars were canceled after Mr. Summers emailed he was “out of town” but would respond. Apparently Summers, who has no where near the financial success of Mr. Morris, prefers working with white agencies instead of availing himself of the knowledge of a successful black millionaire. You have done nothing to demand publicly the Mayor open contracting up to blacks and you allow James Summers to block effective efforts; (5) Recent statistics show black poverty local is 54%, black unemployment 24%, 75% of school aged kids eat breakfast lunch and dinner at school, you have done nothing, but invite the perpetrator, the Mayor, to open your forum; (6) You have done or said NOTHING about the Mayor’s efforts to gentrify black and poor areas, NOTHING; There are so many more facts I could list showing the declining conditions our people live in here, with out one word of protest from you. It is obvious, you have been bought out and have sold our people out. You are not serving black people, you are serving you, to our detriment. My brother, I have remained silent long enough, giving you plenty of opportunity to do something for our people. I even invited you to join me at a press conference demanding the tapes be played. You came, but sat in the back off camera in a pew, then hurried outside to take a call from this Mayor, later appearing in a picture supporting him. A qualified college educated young black man from South Bend with a family runs for Mayor, Henry Davis and you ignore his campaign based upon reform of city government, choosing to support the current Mayor that is harming our people. But, after being at the forum, I see you are happy with your “position.” You were not even interested in opening the floor to questions from the audience. It was laughable to hold a forum only to have the panelist question each other! Had you done so, you could have heard first hand from Marvin Crayton a black contractor shut out from local government contracts because of the Mayor you honor, a former South Bend Police Officer Davin Hackett, who could have pointed out to those present the Chief’s discrimination that drove him to leave to go to the Elkhart Police Department and other black officer to sue for discrimination. And I would have spoken about what the South Bend Branch, NAACP branch did accomplish in 1992, under Rev. Tim Rouse, with me as member of the Executive Committee and as lead Plaintiff, successfully suing the City to redistrict to go from six districts and one elected black councilman, to now 9 members with three black council members. Brother, for all the reasons above, and I could fill many pages of other reasons, you must step down, immediately, or I will begin organizing protests to remove you. You
    are not using your position to help black folks, you are using it to help yourself and to be a cork in the bottle so pressing issues can not be addressed. I will not tolerate this minstrel show leadership of such a needed organization. You must go and go now.
    In him I remain,
    Pastor Mario L. Sims
    cc: South Bend Branch, NAACP officers and Executive Membership Derrick Johnson, interim CEO, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People


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