Old Guard NAACP to Young Black Politicians: Get to the Back of the Bus

Black conservatives are independent thinkers and not the “ventriloquist dummies” that NAACP chairman Julian Bond called them during his keynote address at the NAACP’s national convention on July 7. Members of the African-American leadership network Project 21 are outraged that the leadership of the venerable civil rights organization is casting aspersions on fellow African-Americans explicitly because they do not share the same political views.

Bond, a former Georgia state legislator who is 62 years old, was critical of younger blacks who are challenging the candidacies and policies of the current black elected establishment. While Bond did not mention any specific candidates or races, the Washington Times reported that he accused new black candidates of being members of a “conservative constellation” that is “buying seats at the table of influence.” Earlier this year, Cory Booker ran a strong, but failed, primary campaign against incumbent Newark, New Jersey mayor Sharpe James (D) and Arthur Davis defeated U.S. Representative Earl Hilliard (D-AL) in a recent primary election. Additionally, firebrand liberal U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) is considered vulnerable to a primary challenger and black conservative Michael Steele was selected as the lieutenant governor nominee for Maryland Republicans.

“It is sad to see that the ‘old guard’ remains devoted to divisive and hate-filled tactics which are geared more toward character assassination than fair and open debate on the issues at hand,” said Project 21 member Mike Green. “It is time that kitchen table issues are discussed in an open, gentlemanly fashion, free from the name-calling and slander that has previously empowered the left and enabled them to garner the very power they now accuse conservatives of trying to purchase.”

The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, in a new report entitled Changing of the Guard, notes an evolutionary change is taking place in black politics, particularly among younger candidates. The report says blacks born after the passage of the Civil Rights Act “more strongly support school vouchers, are less positive toward the federal government and more in favor of devolution [of government power], are more supportive of the partial privatization of Social Security, [and] are more pro-business… than older African-Americans.” The Joint Center cites a need for these two schools of black political thought to work across “generational lines,” but Bond’s remarks essentially tells these emerging black leaders that entrenched liberals still intend to drive the black politics and opposing viewpoints must move to the back of the bus.

“Black Americans are intelligent, free-thinking individuals who deserve to hear legitimate debates on issues that affect us,” added Green. “We are not mind-numb robots who need only hear the rhetoric of the old guard that continually spouts the same old stuff that says their opponents ‘hate us’ and is ‘racist.'”

Project 21 has been a leading voice in the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact Chris Burger or David Almasi at (202) 507-6398 or [email protected], or visit Project 21’s web site at http://www.project21.org/P21Index.html.

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