NAACP Benjamin Todd Jealous will step down as president of the nation's oldest and largest U.S. civil rights organization, the Baltimore-based organization announced on Sunday. The resignation will become effective on December 31.
Jealous has been the president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for five years and is credited with "re-energizing and modernizing" the iconic civil rights organization, notes the Baltimore Sun.
Jealous, 40, took the helm of the 104-year-old organization in 2008, at a time when members openly lamented their inability to attract a younger generation to the group. ... When he was tapped for the job five years ago, the vote was split — some members wondered whether Jealous, then 35, was too inexperienced. Only a year before that, the NAACP let go about half its staff to dig itself out of debt. Membership has declined, and its image has suffered. Clashes with the NAACP board led the former president, Bruce S. Gordon, to leave abruptly in March 2007.
Under Jealous, NAACP helped to repeal the death penalty in New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut and Maryland; registered hundreds of thousands of voters for the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections; and organized against New York City's use of stop-and-frisk policing.
Jealous' leadership has increased the organization's revenue and digital footprint, adds the Washington Post.
Last week, Jealous said that his NAACP tenure was a sprint that has left the organization with more technological savvy and on sounder financial footing. It now has 420,000 mobile subscribers. The organization’s e-mail list has jumped from 174,000 names when Jealous joined to 1.3 million. In the 2012 election cycle, the NAACP registered 374,553 new voters — more than double the number it registered in 2008.
Given the NAACP’s periodic money woes and controversies, the most important numbers may be financial: According to the organization’s tax filings and numbers it provided, its revenue has grown from $25.6 million in 2008 to $46 million last year, and its individual donor base has expanded eightfold.
"As others questioned its vitality, we have been able to regrow the mightiest of all trees in the ecology of social justice," Jealous told the Washington Post. "I’m really going to miss the street fights we’ve been in."
These actions climaxed on May 12, 2012 when the NAACP board of directors voted to endorse equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. This marked the first
time the national board has fully endorsed marriage equality—and came
ten days after President Barack Obama's historic announcement supporting that position. The resolution was presented at the civil rights organization's annual
retreat in Miami. It was approved by an almost unanimous vote—only 2
members of the 64-member board opposed.
In February 2010, the NAACP elected the now-45-year-old Roslyn Brock as its new chairwoman
to replace the legendary Julian Bond, a civil rights icon and one of
the first Blacks elected to the Georgia House of Representatives. Brock and Jealous both pledged to make the veteran civil rights organization more relevant.
Jealous says that he is leaving office to spend more time with his wife, civil rights lawyer Lia Epperson, and children, daughter Morgan, 7, and Jack, 13 months. Jealous will also launch an organization to raise money for Black political candidates. In an interview with USA TODAY,
Jealous described his vision as an "EMILY's list for people of color."
Bravo and a thousand congratulations to Benjamin Todd Jealous who has left an incredible legacy on social justice.
In case you missed it, the amazing Diahann Carroll appeared on MSNBC's PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton on Tuesday nght. The actress reflected on her six decades in entertainment and her trailblazing role in NBC's Julia. The series ran from 1968 to 1971 and debuted in the Top Ten. It was one of the first television weekly series "to depict an African American woman in a non-stereotypical role." Julia also marked the first time that a Black actress lead a dramatic network television series.
"I really didn't think about [the historical significance] then," Ms. Carroll admits. "When I heard all of
the accolades that came along with the part, I was thrilled about that ... But later, I became aware of the fact that it had made quite a statement. And it made me very proud."
It would be another 38 years until a Black woman starred in a network television series. That actress is Scandal's Kerry Washington. Ms. Carroll presented Ms. Washington with the NAACP Image Award's President's Award for special achievement last Friday.
Diahann Carroll reflects on her former friend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and the civil rights movement AFTER THE JUMP ...
The big winner at the 44th Annual NAACP Image Awards: The fabulous Kerry Washington. The star of ABC's "Scandal" was a triple threat at the ceremony, picking up trophies for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series for Scandal, Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for Django Unchained and the President's Award for special achievement and exceptional public service.
Kerry Washington's amazing acceptance highlighted her work for equality and President Obama. Watch it AFTER THE JUMP ...
Said the actress:
"I consider it an honor to be an advocate for the arts and to serve on [President] Obama's committee for arts and humanities because just as we must insure that 'We, the people' includes all Americans, regardless of race, class, gender and sexual orientation, we must also work to ensure that the stories we tell, the movies we produce, the television we produce, the theaters we stage, the novels we publish, are all inclusive in all those same ways."
Very good news. The widow of slain civil rights activist Medgar Evers will deliver the invocation at President Barack Obama's inauguration. Myrlie Evers-Williams will become the first woman and "layperson rather than a clergy member" to deliver the prayer that precedes the presidential oath of office, reports The Washington Post.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the murder of Evers, who was the NAACP’s Mississippi field secretary at the time of his death. Myrlie Evers-Williams spent decades fighting to win a conviction of her late husband’s shooter, and served as chairman of the NAACP in the 1990s.
The inaugural committee [announced] that the benediction will be given by conservative evangelical pastor Louie Giglio, founder of the student-focused Passion Conferences, which draw tens of thousands of people to events around the world. The contrasting choice of speakers are typical of a president who has walked a sometimes complicated path when it comes to religion — working to be inclusive to the point that critics at times have questioned his faith.
In a statement released by the inaugural committee, the president said the careers of Evers-Williams and Giglio "reflect the ideals that the Vice President and I continue to pursue for all Americans - justice, equality and opportunity."
Medgar Evers was murdered by a white supremacist in 1963. Evers was the NAACP's first field secretary in Mississippi and was a key player in the fight to overturn segregation at the University of Mississippi, notes the NAACP.
Evers applied to the then-segregated University of Mississippi Law
School in February 1954. When his application was rejected, Evers became
the focus of an NAACP campaign to desegregate the school. ... [The] case was aided by the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education. The University of Mississippi was finally forced to enroll James Meredith in 1962."
Said Evers-Williams in a statement: "I am humbled to have been asked to deliver the invocation for the 57th inauguration of the President of the United States—especially in light of this historical time in America when we will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement."
Ravi, an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Mississippi State University, and Paris, a licensed real estate broker and anti discrimination compliance expert, were married in August at their home in Worcester, Massachusetts. The biweekly feature, which traditionally showcases straight couples, includes a short bio of the couple and explains how the couple fell in love.
"We are excited and honored to have our wedding featured in the historic yet ever-current JET Magazine. Long the hallmark in publishing news, culture, and events pertaining to the Black American experience, Jet's publishing of our union is historic" said Ravi and Paris.
"JET Magazine has an extensive legacy of covering the lives of LGBT African-Americans," said Herndon Graddick, President of GLAAD. "This is yet another opportunity to applaud JET Magazine for continuing to highlight the diversity of the African-American community and to urge other media outlets to recognize that it’s these stories that help grow acceptance of our community and give a voice to LGBT people of color who are too often invisible in the media."
Ravi Perry was a political science professor at Clark University when he was elected to the NAACP position last year. He became the youngest and first openly gay president in that chapter's history. Perry also became one of the very few openly gay chapter president's in the NAACP's history.
JET is a weekly publication and boasts more than 7 million readers. Last year, JET featured its first same-sex wedding, telling the amazing story of Nyema Vernon and Dr. Tenika Jackson. JET has featured Black gay males couples in recent years, too. The biweekly magazine also featured Kye Allums
last year, the former George Washington University student who made history as the
first out transgender Division I college basketball player.
Very disappointing news. Civil rights pioneer Willis Edwards has died, reports CNN. The openly gay and openly HIV positive Edwards was the longtime president of the NAACP Beverly Hills/Hollywood branch and key to launching the NAACP Image Awards on national television.
Edwards was known as a fixer and "Mr. NAACP", according to those who knew him. Born in Texas and raised in Palm Springs, he lead a storied life in politics, entertainment and activism.
Edwards served on the Social Services Commission after Tom Bradley was elected Los Angeles mayor, according to a spokeswoman for the family. Four years after an unsuccessful run for the California General Assembly, Edwards was elected president of the Beverly Hills/Hollywood Branch of the NAACP in 1982, according to the website. More recently, he served as the chapter's first vice president.
Phill Wilson, president and CEO of the Black AIDS Institute, reflected on Edwards' resourcefulness. "The thing about Willis is that he was one of those people in the tradition of the black experience of making a way out of no way," Wilson said.
Former U.S. Rep. Diane Watson knew Edwards for more than 40 years, going back to when he was student body president in college. She said he was known around town as "The Fixer." "Willis could get you into anything, any party, any private event. He just knew everybody," said Watson, a former U.S. ambassador to Micronesia. "Willis could talk his way into Fort Knox with two guns blazing."
Willis served as chair of the sub-committee on HIV/AIDS. After having been diagnosed with AIDS and becoming a prominent voice on the issue of HIV/AIDS education, he has aggressively encouraged the NAACP to take on this issue as an important civil rights initiative since so many African Americans were suffering from health disparities associated with HIV/AIDS diagnosis, medical resources, and mental health counseling. Willis has also worked with the Minority AIDS Project.
Edwards worked for the late Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, as well as civil rights icons Nelson Mandela and Rosa Parks. He led the campaign to get Rosa Parks on a U.S. postage stamp in 2006. Edwards also wrote and co-produced the critically acclaimed film The Rosa Parks Story which starred Angela Bassett.
Several thousand demonstrators participated in a silent march on Sunday down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue to protest the New York Police Department’s "stop and frisk" policies. The policies grant officers wide discretion to detain and search pedestrians.
Civil rights activists say the city’s Black and Latino residents—and LGBT youth of color—are unfairly targeted, notes the New York Times.
Police officers stopped nearly 700,000 people last year, 87 percent of them black or Latino. Of those stopped, more than half were also frisked. The protest, which began at 3 p.m., followed recent remarks by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg that he planned to scale back and amend the practice, amid escalating protests. Mr. Bloomberg has argued that stop-and-frisk gets guns off the street and reduces crime. The march, which stretched for about 20 blocks, ended at East 78th Street, a block from the mayor’s residence.
As of Friday, 299 organizations had endorsed the march, including unions, religious groups and Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Arab, and Jewish groups. The turnout reflected the growing alliance between civil rights groups and gay and lesbian activists, who in past years have often kept each other at arm’s length. Last month, the board of the N.A.A.C.P., which includes several church leaders, voted to endorse same-sex marriage. The roster of support for the march on Sunday included at least 28 gay, lesbian and transgender groups.
Chris Bilal, 24, who is black and gay, said he had been stopped three times, the last time while dancing with two friends in Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem. “Sometimes I’m targeted as a drug dealer, sometimes as someone interfering with the quality of life, sometimes as a gay African-American man in a place I don’t belong,” he said.
During the 10 years of the Bloomberg administration, the police have performed 4,356,927 stops, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union. Among Black men ages 14 to 24, the number of stops last year was greater than their total population. LGBT youth of color are often "targets of police violence and harassment," the Huffington Post reported last week.
The march's leaders included the NAACP's Benjamin Todd Jealous and the Rev. Al Sharpton. The march was attended by the city's Democratic mayorals—Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, Comptroller John Liu and former comptroller William C. Thompson. Their presence indicates a solidifying opposition to the policy.
"Bruce Harris was even more cynical appointment than Clarence Thomas," Rev. Taylor told EBONY. "A Black man who votes against most of the Black community. A gay man who won’t vote on the most pressing gay rights case of our time."
"The gay establishment latched on to this nomination very quickly. They saw he was gay, so they were excited," Darnell Moore told EBONY. Moore is former chair of Newark’s LGBTQ Advisory Commission. "But the big issue in New Jersey right now is school funding. It’s critical to the Black community. But most reporters didn’t interview Black folks or certainly not any Black gay folks. We would have told them."
Christie opposes the court-mandated formula that funds urban school districts. That opposition—as well as the Republican governor’s reluctance to direct funding to inner cities such as Newark or Camden—could have been the motives behind the ill-fated Harris nomination.
"The state supreme court will consider cases on affordable housing, racial profiling and funding for urban schools," said NJ NAACP’s James Harris. "Christie nominates a Black, gay Republican man with a white partner who lives in a wealthy community? Christie was being disrespectful to Blacks and poor people. We were convinced that Mr. Harris would support the governor on school funding."