Boycott the NAACP! by Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson

Boycotts are an effective means for achieving social change. The Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott was a key point in the struggle for civil rights. Southern Baptists are boycotting the Walt Disney Company to protest the company’s moves away from family-friendly entertainment.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has made headlines for its high-profile boycotts of South Carolina for flying the Confederate Battle Flag atop the state’s capitol dome and most recently the Adam’s Mark hotel chain for alleged discriminatory practices. I’d like to suggest a new boycott: Blacks and Americans of all races should boycott the NAACP itself!

Pay the NAACP no money. Pay it no mind. The NAACP is no longer deserving enough to receive our hard-earned cash and precious time.

I don’t want to disparage the valuable and integral role the NAACP played in winning our civil rights. Members of the NAACP risked their lives for the right to vote and our right to come and go in public as we please. We take these freedoms for granted today, but there are those still among us who can remember the brutal and shameful days of segregation and Jim Crow. I will always be grateful for the NAACP of yesterday for my liberty today.

Nowadays, the NAACP’s caliber of work pales in comparison. America’s increasing equality and opportunity relegates the NAACP to complaining that there are no black characters on the television show “Friends.” If they consider that and fighting the anachronism of the Confederate Battle Flag as the top civil rights issues of our time, it’s proof we blacks have come a long way.

The NAACP’s recent actions show it has sold out the original intent of the organization, which was to help blacks succeed in society. In recent years, it has become nothing more than a tool of the elite, socialist wing of the Democratic Party. We certainly saw that in its preferential treatment of Bill Clinton and Al Gore. Ask yourself, what is the NAACP doing about the real problems in the black community? What is it doing about our schools, where our kids know more about condoms than mathematics? What is the NAACP doing about the 70% of black babies being born out of wedlock? The NAACP has health and education programming, but the group’s leaders spend more time in the media spotlight focusing on the trivial rather than addressing the true needs of black America. In fact, I believe the true intent of the NAACP leadership is to cause problems by dividing America and by irritating resentments in the black community.

The NAACP’s recent national convention is a prime example of its leadership divisiveness. Leaders of this supposedly non-partisan organization spouted partisan rhetoric. NAACP Chairman Julian Bond said some of President George W. Bush’s nominations were from the “Taliban wing of American politics,” likening them to the radical governing party of Afghanistan. He also said Attorney General John Ashcroft and Interior Secretary Gale Norton were “nearly canine” in their devotion to the long-dead Confederacy. Attendees reportedly laughed and clapped when a speaker said she’d been anxiously waiting for Republican Senator Strom Thurmond to die. House Majority Leader Dick Armey met with NAACP President Kweisi Mfume earlier this year to try to smooth relations between the group and the Republicans. It appears that Mfume has chosen to disregard the Republican overtures. The NAACP is welcome to disagree with either – or both – political parties, but there is no excuse for vicious name-calling.

Mfume deserves credit for rescuing the NAACP from financial ruin and rescuing the group’s reputation from the harm done by his predecessor. He put the group on solid ground, but he must now be held responsible for once again taking it into dangerous waters. The partisanship exerted over the past year could threaten the NAACP’s tax status, and the battles being chosen threaten its relevance.

At the convention, Mfume signed a new contract that extends his tenure as president of the NAACP. This means we can probably expect more of the same unless we blacks act. Taking a page from their playbook, I propose blacks and Americans of all races everywhere join me in cutting our ties with the NAACP. Call them and ask who they serve, the liberal establishment or black America. Withdraw your financial and moral support, and tell others to do the same. We’ll be back when the organization once again represents all quarters of the diverse black community.

(Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson is a member of the national advisory council of the African-American leadership network Project 21 and the founder and president of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny. Comments may be sent to [email protected].)

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