- The oldest and largest civil rights organization in the U.S.
- Has longstanding, deep ties to socialist and communist causes
- Supports racial preferences in employment and education
- Supports racial gerrymandering of voting districts
Founded on February 12, 1909, the NAACP is America’s oldest and largest civil rights group. With “more than [a] half-million members and supporters throughout the United States and the world,” its mission is “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.” Toward this end, the organization actively lobbies for the “enactment and enforcement of federal, state, and local laws securing civil rights.”
The NAACP was established by a coterie of white socialists who subsequently invited blacks into the organization. Its principal founder wasSocialist Party memberMary White Ovington, and its first president was attorney Moorfield Storey. Two other white NAACP members, the pro-socialist Jane Addams and the father of progressive education, John Dewey, were also instrumental in organizing the American Civil Liberties Union. One of the NAACP’s original organizers, W.E.B. Du Bois, believed in the communist ideology, often praised the success of Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, and eventually joined the Communist Party USA. Du Bois served as the NAACP’s director of publications and research, and in 1910 he established the organization’s official journal, The Crisis. From 1909-34, DuBois was the organization’s most prominent spokesman.
In The Biographical Dictionary of the Left, Francis X. Gannon wrote: “The formation of the NAACP was urged by the leading radicals of the era including Jane Addams, John Dewey, William Lloyd Garrison, John Haynes Holmes, Lincoln Steffens, Brand Whitlock, Lillian Wald, Rabbi Stephen Wise, and Ray Stannard Baker. Among the first officials of the NAACP were more radicals including: Mary White Ovington, Oswald Garrison Vilard, Walter E. Sachs, John Milholland, Frances Blascoer, and William English Walling. Other radicals were among the first NAACP members: Florence Kelly, William Pickens, James W. Johnson, Charles E. Russell, and E. R. A. Seligman. (Many of these individuals were already or would soon become enrolled in the newly formed Intercollegiate Socialist Society, which later became the League for Industrial Democracy, and, within a few years, they were prominent in various pacifist groups, including the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the American Civil Liberties Union. The NAACP gave them one more vantage point – agitation for Negroes’ equality – from which they could promote Socialism and other facets of radicalism.)”
During its first year as an active organization, the NAACP recruited 329 members.
During the Jim Crow era of segregation, the NAACP stood in the vanguard of numerous crusades aimed at achieving racial justice for black Americans. Its leaders and members courageously took many public stands that exposed them to both ridicule and peril. For instance, when President Woodrow Wilson officially instituted segregation for federal civil service employees in 1913, the NAACP protested. During the ensuing years, the organization pressured President Wilson to publicly condemn the practice of lynching, which he finally did in 1918. Determined to show the Ku Klux Klan and other hostile parties that its own members would not be intimidated by threats of violence or retribution, the NAACP defiantly held its 1920 annual conference in Atlanta, which was then a hotbed of Klan activity.
NAACP membership grew rapidly during World War One: from approximately 9,000 in 1917, to around 90,000 in 1919.
In 1922 the NAACP began receiving grants from the Communist-linked Garland Fund, whose officials included ACLU founderRoger Baldwin as well as Communists like Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, William Z. Foster, Benjamin Gitlow, and Scott Nearing. (These grants continued until at least 1934.)
By 1922 as well, the Communist International had ordered American Communists to exploit blacks in a manner that would threaten the peace and security of the United States. As a result, says Francis X. Gannon: “In its early history, the NAACP proved to be a natural attraction for Communists. DuBois, the real leader of the organization, ‘hailed the Russian Revolution of 1917,’ and he traveled to the Soviet Union in 1926 and 1936. He especially liked ‘the racial attitudes of the Communists.’” By Gannon’s telling: “DuBois’ views, so overtly compatible with the Communists’ plans for a segregated Negro America, were an embarrassment to the NAACP which, of necessity, had to depend upon financial and other support from white America. And, in 1934, DuBois separated from the NAACP. (He returned ten years later but within four years he left the NAACP permanently and devoted his energies full-time working for Communist projects.)”
It is notable that DuBois’ departure from the NAACP did not in any way signal an organizational break from Communist influences. As the late black author George Schuyler once explained: “[T]he Association [NAACP] was playing patsy with the forces of the Left…. As the Communists, crypto Communists and fellow travelers moved in on the New Deal and took charge, the NAACP was more and more affected. The indefatigable Walter F. White, NAACP executive secretary, was weekly in Washington cultivating white power which was often Red. Then the New York Communist organizers, Manning Johnson and Leonard Patterson, traveled to Washington, contacted the Red faculty members at Howard University, and ‘sold’ them on organizing an activist National Negro Congress (NNC). Among the first suckered into it was the NAACP’s executive secretary. This committed the Association to supporting an outfit tailored originally by the Communist Party of the U.S.A. to destroy it.”
According to The Biographical History of the Left: “There could be no doubt that the NAACP was of particular interest to the Communist Party. At the fourth national convention of the Workers (Communist) Party in 1925,the comrades were told that it was ‘permissible and necessary for selected Communists … to enter its [the NAACP’s] conventions and to make proposals calculated to enlighten the Negro masses under its influence as to the nature and necessity of the class struggle, the identity of their exploiters. In 1928, the Communist International instructed American Negro Communists to work for a Negro-controlled State composed of all contiguous Southern countries having majority black populations – the so-called Black Belt. In 1930, the Communist International instructed the entire Communist Party USA to organize the Negroes of the South for the purpose of setting up a separate [black] state and government in the South.” But American Communists and the NAACP temporarily shelved that idea, only because blacks as a whole showed no interest in that type of segregation.
In 1930 as well, the NAACP launched a successful protest against Supreme Court Justice nominee John Parker, a federal judge from North Carolina with a history of supporting the disenfranchisement of black voters. In 1935 the NAACP won the legal battle to admit a black student to the University of Maryland, and six years later it led the effort to outlaw discrimination in the armed forces, defense-related industries, and federal employment.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the NAACP began to focus heavily on “economic justice,” meaning more government control over the American economy, in an effort to redistribute wealth and increase income equality. Moreover, NAACP Secretary Walter F. White, a friend and adviser to First Lady and NAACP national board member Eleanor Roosevelt, met frequently with Mrs. Roosevelt in an effort to convince President Franklin Roosevelt to outlaw job discrimination in the military, defense industries, and the agencies that grew out of Roosevelt’s New Deal legislation.
Roy Wilkins, a longtime NAACP staffer, effusively praised the Communist Party for the assistance it gave to black Americans. Moreover, Wilkins was affiliated with a number of Communist fronts and enterprises from 1937 until at least 1949. (In 1955 he would become the NAACP’s Executive Secretary, a title that was changed to Executive Director in 1964.)
In 1938 the NAACP was represented at the Soviet-controlled World Youth Congress.
In the 1940s the NAACP was affiliated with American Youth for a Free World, the U.S. affiliate of a Communist clearing house known as the World Federation of Democratic Youth.
Membership in the NAACP increased from about 50,000 to 429,000 during World War II.
In 1946 the NAACP won the Morgan v. Virginiacase, where the Supreme Court struck down laws mandating segregated facilities in interstate travel by train and bus. Two years later, thanks in part to NAACP lobbying, President Harry Truman signed an Executive Order outlawing discrimination by the federal government.
Also in 1946, the NAACP cooperated with the Communist Party to establish the Communist-dominated Progressive Party, which went on to run former FDR Vice President Henry Wallace for President in the 1948 election.
In 1946 as well, the NAACP cooperated with the Communist Party when the latter, in one of its most ambitious political projects of all time, established the Progressive Citizens of America — the basis for Henry Wallace’s presidential run in 1948.
In 1950,Communist leader Robert Thompson said: “The emergence of a powerful left, anti-imperialist, anti-fascist current among the Negro people is unmistakable and is clearly discernible in the NAACP. This Left, anti-imperialist trend in the Association insists upon much greater attention by the organization to the pressing economic and political problems facing the Negro masses.”
In September 1953, the Communist publication Daily Worker said: “It should be clear that we Communists are the first to insist that the labor movement, all sections of it, should give every possible support to any and all campaigns conducted by the NAACP.” Similarly, in February 1957 the Daily Worker stated: “Communists in labor unions are thus pledged to get their unions to support the NAACP, to better express the affiance of labor with the Negro people. Communists in communities are pledged to aid in increasing the membership and financial strength of the NAACP, whether as members or not.”
In 1954, after years of fighting segregation in public schools, the NAACP won the landmarkBrown v. Board of EducationSupreme Court case. A year later, the civil rights movement took center-stage in American public life when NAACP member Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama.
In the late 1950s and early ’60s, the NAACP was a leader in the massive wave of civil rights demonstrations throughout the United States. In 1960 in Greensboro, North Carolina, members of the NAACP Youth Council launched a series of nonviolent sit-ins at segregated lunch counters, actions that eventually caused many stores to officially desegregate their facilities.
In 1963 the NAACP’s membership reached its all-time high of about 510,000. By the end of 1968, that figure had declined to 449,000.
Following the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the NAACP, amidst threats of violence, managed to register approximately 80,000 black voters in the South.
In 1969 The Biographical Dictionary of the Left discussed the NAACP’s longstanding pas de deux with Communism:
“It is true that from time to time the NAACP went through the motions of denouncing Communism and Communists but, at the same time, the NAACP harbored in its roster of officials and in its membership a legion of Communist-fronters, individuals whose prestige and influence made their presence in the fronts of far more importance to the Communist Party than if they were dues-paying members of obscure and secretive party cells. Among these individuals who represented every Communist front, project, and enterprise ever to appear in this country have been: Roger N. Baldwin, George S. Counts, J. Frank Dobie, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Arthur Garfield Hays, Freda Kirchwey, Alfred Baker Lewis, Archibald MacLeish, Reinhold Niebuhr, A. Philip Randolph, Guy Emery Shipler, Lillian Smith, Norman Thomas, Leonard Bernstein, Eugene Carson Blake, Sarah Gibson Blanding, Ralph Bunche, Morris Ernst, Buell Gallagher, Rabbi Roland Gittelsohn, Frank Graham, Bishop James A. Pike, Carl Rowan, Eleanor Roosevelt, Walter Reuther, Channing Tobias, Algernon D. Black, Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam, Van Wyck Brooks, Henry Hitt Crane, Benjamin E. Mays, S. Ralph Harlow, and Oscar Hammerstein II. Hughes even boasted that the NAACP membership included Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Averell Harriman, Herbert Lehman, Harry Golden, Harry Belafonte, G. Mennen Williams, Chester Bowles, Nelson Rockefeller, Alan Paton, and Adam Clayton Powell – none of whom could be considered as anything less than extremely soft on Communism. Even after the publication of Hughes’ book, there appeared on NAACP letterheads such names as Walter Gellhorn, Telford Taylor, William Sloane Coffin Jr., Dick Gregory, Ossie Davis, Steve Allen, Ruby Dee, Aaron Copland, Helen Buttenwieser, Erwin N. Griswold, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, John A. Volpe, Kirtley Mather, Elliot L. Richardson, and Henry Cabot Lodge.
“Among those honored by the NAACP with its annual Spingam Medal have been: W. E. B. DuBois, Mary McLeod Bethune, A. Philip Randolph, William Hastie, Paul Robeson, Thurgood Marshall, Richard Wright, Martin L. King Jr., Ralph Bunche, Walter White, and Langston Hughes.
“From its inception to the present,… the organization’s officials and its known members, collectively and individually, have represented the influential left, the leadership of Communist fronts and left-wing political and pacifist groups, and the most effective of the anti-anti-Communist establishment….
“The relationship between the NAACP and the Communist Party has been demonstrable through the activities of those attorneys who have held office in the NAACP, its branches, or the ‘Committee of 100’ which supports the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
“Among the more prominent attorneys associated with the NAACP have been Morris Ernst, Robert W. Kenny, Earl B. Dickerson, Clarence Darrow, Bartley Crum, Osmond Fraenkel, Hubert Delany, and Loren Miller – all of whom had an unusual affinity for Communist fronts and projects. For ten years prior to his appointment in 1939 to the Supreme Court of the United States, Felix Frankfurter, an unreconstructed Bolshevik, served as a legal adviser to the NAACP. That intimate association never deterred Frankfurter from sitting and writing decisions on cases where the NAACP was directly involved. But, in its entire history, the NAACP owes its most dramatic successes to the work of Thurgood Marshall.”
In more recent decades, the nature of the NAACP’s crusades has changed dramatically from the legitimate causes it once pursued. While claiming that its “primary focus … continues to be the protection and enhancement of the civil rights of African Americans and other minorities,” the organization now supports racial preferences rather than equal rights. It began to move in that direction in the early 1960s, just a few years after having advocated color-blind justice in the Brown v. Board of Educationcase. The shift was articulated bluntly by Thurgood Marshall, who, as NAACP Chief Counsel in 1954, had written in a brief for Brown: “Distinctions by race are so evil, so arbitrary and invidious that a state, bound to defend the equal protection of the laws must not invoke them in any public sphere.” But as a Supreme Court Justice in the 1960s, Marshall once told fellow Justice William O. Douglas in a conversation about racial preferences: “You [white] guys have been practicing discrimination for years. Now it’s our turn.”
A number of noteworthy commentators have noted the NAACP’s dramatic break from the principle of color-blindness, and its ever-increasing efforts to foment interracial bitterness and grievance:
- In 2002, then-University of California Regent and former NAACP member Ward Connerly wrote: “Does anyone, other than the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, really take the NAACP seriously anymore? An organization with such a glorious history of championing equal treatment for all Americans now finds itself in the position of being largely irrelevant in the ongoing national dialogue about race. What a tragic farce this group has become. When I joined the NAACP over 40 years ago as a student at Sacramento State college, the organization was dedicated to passing laws that guaranteed voting rights for blacks in the South as well as the right to have a meal at a lunch counter regardless of your skin color. Back then, even though we strongly disagreed with the Southern politicians who defended the racial status quo, we were generally polite and respectful in our criticism of them and their opinions. In other words, thoughtful and moral arguments, not jive insults, were used to overcome bigotry and to promote the equal-rights agenda. These days, the latter seems to be all that the old-line civil-rights groups are capable of delivering.”
- In July 2003, Linda Chavez, a former staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, wrote: “[T]he NAACP is America’s oldest civil rights organization, and for years stood as the moral conscience of the nation, fighting for the rights of black Americans to equal treatment at the polling booth, in the schoolhouse, in the courts and in the marketplace. How sad, now, that this venerable institution has been turned into a caricature of its former self. Its leaders are stuck in a time warp, imagining they still live in a world of pick-ax-wielding bigots and lynch mobs.”
- In October 2007, Dr. Melvin L. Johnson – the African American pastor of the Heart of Christ Community Church in Brazoria, Texas – said the following about the NAACP:“Although one of their concerns was to help blacks fight and bring an end to lynchings and discrimination, I suspect that there were even deeper motives, though commendable in the fight against the onslaught. I believe that this is the way the black community was manipulated into the influences of socialistic ideology, which is very strong today…. Simply put, the NAACP of today serves as the clearinghouse for the modern socialist movement. On the national front, this specifically applies to the Congressional Black Caucus. No black person who does not follow the NAACP’s leftist philosophy will get support from the organization, especially when it comes to freeing struggling inner-city black and Hispanic kids from the clutches of the failing public schools. It is the legacy of socialism I believe that they are loyal to. To many blacks, its evils are not realized, and are seen as a virtue.”
The NAACP’s longtime, staunch support of affirmative action – i.e., race preferences – is rooted in the premise that because white racism and discrimination against blacks are so rampant in the United States, social justice can never be achieved without the aid of compensatory measures and double standards to counterbalance that racism. Elaine Jones, a former member of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Education Fund, for instance, once said that the Ku Klux Klan’s racist views “are shared quietly” by many Americans. The NAACP’s former chairwoman, Myrlie Evers-Williams, said in 1995: “America reeks of racism.” In the ’90s as well, the NAACP’s former executive director, Benjamin Chavis, lamented the “vestiges of American apartheid” that allegedly prevented blacks from acquiring a “fair share” of the American economy, calling racism “worse today than it was in the 60s.” Citing what he perceived to be America’s pervasive racial injustice, Chavis characterized the 1992 Los Angeles riots as a justified “people’s rebellion” against white oppressors.
In the early 1990s, Chavis led the NAACP in forming alliances with some of the most radical elements in the black community. For example, he proudly entered his organization into a “sacred covenant” with Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, and pledged never to “forsake Mr. Farrakhan as my brother.” He made a similar covenant with the Congressional Black Caucus in September 1993. And in 1994, Chavis recruited into the NAACP such prominent black militants as Calvin Butts, Angela Davis, Maulana Karenga, Cornel West, Al Sharpton, and Alton Maddox (the attorney best known for his role in the Sharpton-Tawana Brawley hoax). When the NAACP’s Board of Directors in 1994 voted to remove Chavis from his position after he had stolen at least $64,000 from the group’s coffers, Chavis blamed his demise on “forces outside the African American community,” prominent among which were “right-wing Jewish groups.”
After the Supreme Court’s 1995 ruling that gerrymandered Congressional voting districts – i.e., districts drawn along racial rather than geographic lines, so as to ensure the election of black representatives in those districts – were unconstitutional and needed to be reconfigured, one NAACP leader, evoking images of lynchings, warned that “the noose” was “tightening” around the proverbial neck of black America. The NAACP’s Theodore Shaw lamented that before long, the entire Congressional Black Caucus“will be able to meet in the back seat of a taxi cab.” Elaine Jones said that gerrymandering’s demise would “torch the fundamental rights of African Americans … to be included as participatory citizens in this democracy.” The clear consensus was that the bigotry of white voters would surely preclude blacks from winning political offices in the newly redrawn districts. But the dire warnings proved to bear no resemblance to reality. In the 1996 congressional elections, all five black incumbents whose districts were newly majority-white, were re-elected.
In 1996 the NAACP named Kweisi Mfume as its president and CEO.
In 1998 the NAACP named Julian Bond as its chairman.
In 1999, NAACP President Kweisi Mfume characterized the major television networks – ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox – as part and parcel of “the most segregated industry in America.” “There has to be an effective strategy,” Mfume said. “We have a clear timetable of events, and we would caution anyone who would suggest there is a decline in what we are doing. We are even more determined in our efforts to make the television industry more inclusive.” Two years later, Mfume continued to hammer away at this theme. “By any reasonable standard,” he stated at a press conference, “African-Americans and all other races of people are underrepresented in almost every aspect of the television and film industry. I’m getting ready to do battle.” But according to the Screen Actors Guild, blacks, who constituted 12 percent of the overall U.S. population, were cast in 14.8 percent of all television and movie roles at that time. Moreover, ABC reported that 33.6 percent of its new network hires went to minorities; CBS said that 29 percent of its actors were black; and on Fox’s prime-time series, 41 percent of all the actors were nonwhite minorities.In 2002 Mfume led a delegation to Communist Cuba, “to learn more about [that nation’s] education and health systems.” He embraced the Marxist dictator Fidel Castro and urged that the U.S. engage in more trade with Cuba. Mfume also had a token meeting with Cuban dissidents, but an official NAACP press release cast doubt on whether the latter were being truthful in claiming that “the Cuban people are denied freedom of expression and freedom of worship.” This same press release ended by quoting, without question or qualification, a Cuban Communist commissar saying: “Most of these people [dissidents] just pretend to represent organizations. They have absolutely no support in our country.”
Also in the early 2000s, the NAACP officially opposed the Patriot Act, which, according to Kweisi Mfume, was causing “thousands of individuals [to be] denied their basic civil rights.” In a similar spirit, the organization endorsed the Community Resolution to Protect Civil Liberties campaign, a project that tried to influence city councils nationwide to pass resolutions of noncompliance with the provisions of the Patriot Act. Further, the NAACP was a signatory to a March 17, 2003 letter exhorting Members of Congress to oppose the Patriot Act on grounds that it “would severely dilute, if not undermine, many basic constitutional rights.” Fellow signers included the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the American Library Association, the Arab American Institute, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Immigrant Defense Project of the New York State Defenders Association, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the Mennonite Central Committee, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Council of La Raza, the National Immigration Law Center, the National Lawyers Guild, People for the American Way, and Women Against War.
The NAACP Board of Directors passed a resolution expressing its opposition to the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, and made the organization a member of the Win Without Warcoalition.
The NAACP has long favored reparations payments as compensation for the enslavement of black people in America between the 17th and 19th centuries, and as punishment for the nation’s persisting racism throughout the post-slavery era. In July 2005, for instance, the NAACP announced that its economic agenda now included a quest to extract reparations payments from, and to conduct boycotts against, American corporations with “historical ties to slavery.” Said the organization’s interim president, Dennis C. Hayes: “Absolutely, we will be pursuing reparations from companies that have historical ties to slavery and engaging all parties to come to the table. Many of the problems we have now including poverty, disparities in health care and incarcerations can be directly tied to slavery.” The chairman of the NAACP’s economic development committee, Nelson Rivers, said: “We don’t plan to allow them to continue to enjoy our African-American dollars while they continue to ignore us.”In July 2005, Bruce Gordon, one of America’s most prominent black corporate executives, succeeded Kweisi Mfume as NAACP president. But Gordon often clashed with the organization’s board, and he consequently resigned in March 2007. Whereas Gordon had sought to address the black community’s practical problems, many of the board members were steadfastly committed to the notion that the NAACP’s mission should focus on achieving “social justice” in an allegedly racist, unremittingly discriminatory United States. In an interview shortly after he departed, Gordon said that the NAACP had lost touch with its constituency.
According to informed sources, another major cause of Gordon’s dissatisfaction was the micro-managing style of NAACP chairman Julian Bond. In fact, when Gordon was first selected to lead the NAACP in 2005, a source close to former president Kweisi Mfume (who also had clashed with Bond) said: “He [Gordon] won’t have any control. Julian won’t let him have the power.”
After Gordon’s resignation, Bond appointed Dennis Courtland Hayes as the NAACP’s interim president and CEO. Hayes was a practicing attorney who, according to the NAACP, had previously “served as General Counsel in charge of the NAACP’s historic legal program to eliminate racial discrimination from all facets of American life, with the nation’s courts as a principal means and the United States Constitution as the weapon.”
Lamenting “the magnitude of voter-suppression strategies that continues to hinder our [black] vote,” the NAACP’s Civic Engagement Department in 2006 developed a Voter Empowerment Programas a “nonpartisan” initiative designed “to empower African Americans and people of color by increasing awareness and participation in the electoral process.” The objective was to increase – by means of registration, education, and get-out-the-vote campaigns – black voter turnout by 5 percent over the 2002 turnout.
In 2006 as well, the NAACP asserted that a Voter ID law in Missouri “flies in the face of our right, guaranteed by the Constitution, to cast a free and unfettered ballot,” and “re-creates new obstacles in voting akin to a modern day ‘poll-tax’ by forcing U.S citizens to pay for government-approved ID that many of our most vulnerable citizens do not have or cannot easily obtain.” “The requirement that all voters present a photo ID before being able to cast a regular ballot will disproportionately disenfranchise African Americans and other racial and ethnic minority Americans ,” said the organization.
In 2008 the NAACP elected Ben Jealous as its president/CEO; Jealous went on to hold that post until the end of 2013.
In July 2010, NAACP delegates passed aresolution designed to expose “bigoted elements” within the conservative Tea Party movement and to repudiate “racist Tea Party leaders.” “The time has come for [Tea Party leaders] to accept the responsibility that comes with influence and make clear there is no place for racism and anti-Semitism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry in their movement,” said Ben Jealous.
In 2011, in anticipation of the following year’s presidential election. the NAACP petitioned the United Nations to investigate the alleged disenfranchisement of American black and Latino voters. A December 5, 2011 NAACP report titled Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America complained that more than a dozen U.S. states had taken measures aimed at unfairly restricting the constitutionally protected right of black and Hispanic voters to to cast their ballots. Among these measures were: the enactment of Voter ID requirements, the shortening of early-voting periods, the reversal of executive orders that had previously restored the voting rights of felons, and the purging of ineligible or fraudulent names from voter rolls. Said NAACP president and CEO Ben Jealous: “It’s been more than a century since we’ve seen such a tidal wave of assaults on the right to vote. Historically, when voting rights are attacked, it’s done to facilitate attacks on other rights. It is no mistake that the groups who are behind this are simultaneously attacking very basic women’s rights, environmental protections, labor rights, and educational access for working people and minorities.” William Barber, a member of the NAACP’s national board, said that the new state election laws constituted the “most vicious, coordinated and sinister attack to narrow participation in our democracy since the early 20th century.”
The NAACP sent its 2011 report to the United Nations. Moreover, the organization conducted a “Stand 4 Freedom” rally across from the UN’s New York City headquarters in December 2011. The NAACP website exhorted supporters to sign an online pledge that asked the United Nations to “investigate and condemn voter suppression tactics in the United States.” Moreover, the NAACP announced that it was planning to send a delegation to Geneva, Switzerland, to present its case before the UN Human Rights Council – an entity where 57.45% of the member nations were rated as “Not Free” or only “Partly Free” by the watchdog organization Freedom House.
In March 2013, the billionaire philanthropist George Soros pledged to give, through his Open Society Foundations, $1 million to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. This was the largest grant which that organization had received from a named donor in recent decades. The stated purpose of the grant was to oppose the implementation of Voter ID laws, and to help fight challenges to some provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
In July 2013, Fox News contributor Deneen Borelli and her husband, Tom Borelli, claimed that black conservatives (like themselves) had been blacklisted from the NAACP’s national conferences for years. When the Borellis, who worked for the conservative group FreedomWorks, attempted to pay for booth space at the NAACP’s 2013 national conference in Florida, they were told that there was no room for them, even though a great deal of exhibit space had not yet been filled. SaidMrs. Borelli: “As a black conservative, I’ve been attacked for communicating my values of individual liberty and economic opportunity for all Americans. The NAACP refuses to defend my right to express my views, despite my numerous attempts to contact their headquarters. Sadly, this once venerable civil rights organization has morphed into a political arm of the progressive movement, and it reserves its advocacy for left-wing causes and individuals. We are asking the NAACP to end their selective representation of black victims of racial discrimination, and to provide a voice for black conservatives to speak at their events.”
Reverend C.L. Bryant, former NAACP branch president in Garland, Texas, amplifiedBorelli’s message: “I was punished for my outspoken belief that as a Baptist preacher, my rights come from God, not the government. The NAACP has strayed from the principles of empowerment and opportunity. We are here to remind the leadership and the membership that the NAACP stands for the ‘advancement of colored people,’ not the ‘advancement of colored progressives.’”
In January 2014, Rev. William Barber II, the head of the NAACP’s North Carolina chapter, derided Senator Tim Scott – a black Republican representing South Carolina – as a pawn of “the extreme right wing.” “A ventriloquist can always find a good dummy,” said Barber.
In July 2015, pressure from the NAACP caused Connecticut’s state Democratic Party to vote unanimously to remove the names of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson from its annual Jefferson Jackson Bailey fundraising dinner. At issue was the NAACP’s complaint that the two former presidents had owned slaves, as well as the role Jackson had played in the removal of Native Americans from the southeastern United States. Scot X. Esdaile, the head of Connecticut’s NAACP, said: “I would applaud the current leaders in Connecticut in making the symbolic first step and striving to right the wrongs of the past. You can’t right all the wrongs, but I think it’s a symbolic gesture of our support for their party.”
The NAACP receives large amounts of funding from a host of charitable philanthropies, including such notables as the Aetna Foundation, the American Express Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Annie E. Casey Foundation, the AT&T Foundation, the Bank of America Foundation, the Bauman Family Foundation, the Ben and Jerry’s Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Boston Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Clinton Family Fund, the Compton Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Fannie Mae Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Heinz Trust, the JEHT Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the Open Society Institute, the Park Foundation, the Ploughshares Foundation, the Public Welfare Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Sara Lee Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, the Simons Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, the Tides Foundation, the Verizon Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlitt Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. and the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.
Major Issues Today
The NAACP’s major issues today include the following:
* Education: In an effort to “ensure that every disadvantaged student and student of color graduates ready for college or a career by ensuring access to great teaching, fair discipline, equitable resources and challenging curriculum,” the NAACP seeks to “eliminat[e] the severe racial inequities that continue to plague our education system.” One key proposal is to “eliminate zero tolerance” policies in classroom discipline, policies that the NAACP views as racist, racially discriminatory gateways to the so-called “school-to-prison pipeline.”
* Health: Lamenting that “African Americans [as compared to other racial and ethnic groups] continue to have the highest incidence, prevalence and mortality rates from chronic diseases,” the NAACP professes to support “the right of African Americans and other people of color to have optimal health outcomes and access to timely, quality, affordable health care.” The organization strongly endorses the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare), though its ultimate objective is to promote a single-payer healthcare system that is run entirely by the federal government.
* Media Diversity: Condemning “negative portrayals of people of color in film and television,” the NAACP’s Hollywood Bureau “deals with issues of diversity programming and minority employment in Hollywood, and oversees the production of the NAACP Image Awards.”* Civic Engagement: With approximately 2,000 adult branches, youth councils, and college chapters in 49 states and 5 countries, the NAACP is “actively engaged in increasing the African American responsiveness of citizens to be fully engaged in the democratic process.” Toward this end, the organization promotes voter-registration drives that target nonwhites, a demographic whose members are highly likely to support Democrats at the ballot box. However, while advocating higher levels of voter participation on election day, the NAACP has strongly condemned proposed laws that would require all voters to show some form of federally approved photo-identification and proof of citizenship before being permitted to cast their ballots.
* Environmental & Climate Justice: Embracing the notion that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with human industrial activity contribute heavily to potentially catastrophic global warming, the NAACP says: “Environmental injustice, including the proliferation of climate change, has a disproportionate impact on communities of color and low income communities in the United States and around the world.”
* Economic Opportunity: The NAACP Economic Department “recognizes the importance of the economy and economic issues in advancing an equal opportunity society and aims to address the challenging economic realities facing our country including poverty, lack of jobs, and disproportionate high unemployment, lack of affordable housing, foreclosures, etc.” Its proposed solutions to these problems are largely rooted in demands for increased government intervention, social welfare spending, and wealth redistribution.
● Favoring redistributive economic policies both at home and abroad, the NAACP is “dedicated to closing the gap of disparities faced by people of color across the globe by promoting fair and equitable human rights and economic justice.” Says the organization: “African Americans, with few exceptions, fare the worst in terms of access to healthcare and housing, numbers living in poverty, etc. No matter where they reside in the world, people of African descent are plagued with similar conditions within the global community.”
● Over the years, the NAACP has negotiated dozens of “Fair Share” agreements with American corporations, threatening lawsuits unless the companies in question hire and promote more black employees, purchase more supplies and equipment from black vendors, or make financial contributions to the NAACP.
* Criminal Justice: Reasoning from the premise that the American criminal-justice system is replete with racism and discrimination, the NAACP “advocates for smarter, results-based criminal justice policies to keep our communities safe, including treatment for addiction and mental health problems, judicial discretion in sentencing, and an end to racial disparities at all levels of the system.” Lamenting, also, that “the United States is home to the world’s largest prison population,” the organization complains that “tough on crime” laws “have [unjustly] put an unprecedented number of non-violent offenders behind bars in recent years.”
● Claiming that “race, police, and violence” are “inseparable in this country,” one NAACP report charges that racism “informs every aspect of policing” in the United States. To remedy this, the organization seeks to ensure that there is “equity in [the] arrest, interrogation, pre-sentencing, jury selection, discovery, trial, sentencing, [and] appeal phases” of the justice process; that “incarcerated and released felons have access to appropriate voting, education, job training and civic participation resources”; and that the federal and state governments alike place a moratorium on capital punishment “until race and ethnicity is no longer statistically significant in predicting sentencing and execution.”
● The NAACP also seeks a federal prohibition against the “insidious practice” of racial profiling, and it supports funding for “the retraining of law-enforcement officials on how to discontinue and prevent the use of racial profiling.” “At the most basic level,” the organization explains, “it is difficult for our faith in the American judicial system not to be challenged when we cannot even drive down an interstate without being stopped merely because of the color of our skin.”
* Federal Advocacy: The NAACP boasts that it “was a leading force behind the enactment of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the 1968 Fair Housing Act, the 1991 Civil Rights Restoration Act, and the 2002 Help America Vote Act, the most current reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, among countless others.”
For additional information on the NAACP, click here.
 Don Feder, “Farrakhan Highlights Black Leadership’s Failure,” Conservative Chronicle (March 30, 1994), p. 28. Stephen A. Holmes, “Rights Chief Upsets Board of NAACP,” The New York Times (April 10, 1994), p. L19. As to the question of how to determine which companies had been tied to slavery, a Washington Times piece stated: “James Lide, director of the international division at History Associates Inc., a Rockville firm that researches old records, said determining how many U.S. businesses are linked to slavery depends upon definition. Almost every business has at least an indirect link to slavery, he said. For example, some railroad and Southern utility companies can trace their roots to businesses that used slave labor. Textile companies, for example, use cotton that was grown on Southern plantations.” Cited in Stephan and Abigail Thernstrom, America in Black and White (Simon & Schuster, 1997), p. 269.