of Julian Bond's Speech During 96th Annual Convention
Board Member Frank Humphrey, Vice-Chair Roslyn Brock, members of the Board
of Directors and SCF Trustees, NAACP staff, NAACP members, friends and guests
– welcome to Milwaukee – home of beer, brats, and the Bradley
Foundation(i). The first two many of you
will enjoy; I’ll speak more about the third later on. But as the song
says, “Two out of three ain't bad.”
I am sorry to begin with some bad news – for the fifth year in a row,
the President of the United States will not grace us with his presence. He
is the first President since Herbert Hoover not to speak to us. The good news
is that next year we’ll meet right in the nation’s capital, Washington,
DC, blocks from the White House, and Mr. President, we’re extending
the invitation a year in advance. We want to see you and we want you to see
us – we want to know you think you’re our president too.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott - the event
that introduced Martin Luther King, Jr. to the world. He was only twenty-six
At that early age and at the early stage of the boycott, King understood its
historical significance. Four days after Rosa Parks stood up for justice by
sitting down, the boycott began. That evening, at the first mass meeting,
“… When the history books are written in the future, somebody
will have to say, ‘there lived a race of people, a black people …
who had the moral courage to stand up for their rights. And thereby they injected
a new meaning into the veins of history and civilization.”(ii)
did not exaggerate. Montgomery was the beginning of a mass movement that destroyed
segregation and permanently changed our world.
Thus it is no coincidence that this year we also celebrate the 40th anniversary
of the passage of the Voting Rights Act.
King was the most famous and well known of the modern movement’s personalities,
but it was a people’s movement. It produced leaders of its own; but
it relied not on the noted but the nameless, not on the famous but the faceless.
It didn’t wait for commands from afar to begin a campaign against injustice.
It saw wrong and acted against it; it saw evil and brought it down.
Historian Clayborn Carson writes:
“Although King played a crucial role in transforming a local boycott
into a social justice movement of international significance, he was himself
transformed by a movement he did not initiate."(iii)
Baker put it more succinctly: “The movement made Martin rather than
Martin making the movement.”
In Montgomery the boycott owed its success to what historian Carson calls
the “self-reliant NAACP stalwarts who acted on their own before King
NAACP stalwarts” – the conscience of a nation.
When our enslaved foreparents were stolen from their villages and sold into
bondage and put on ships and packed into holds and sailed away from land,
for a short time they could see the land disappearing behind them.
For a while they could see the heat rising from the land they could no longer
see. And then for a while they saw the land clouds floating on the heat they
could not see above the land that had also disappeared from view.
And then a day came when they could not see the land or the heat or the clouds
– they could not see where they were and they did not know where they
they did not know where they were going.
Not where they were. Not where they were going. But they knew who they were.
And we know who we are – we are the conscience of a nation. That is
our inheritance – the bequest of bondage, the legacy of lynching.
More than 4,000 blacks were lynched from 1882 to 1942. “All blacks lived
with the reality that no black individual was completely safe from lynching.”
(v) Because “white society refused
to take any effective action to stop lynching,”(vi)
the NAACP’s major campaign during its first four decades was against
the barbaric practice of ritual human sacrifice.
In May, 1911, the NAACP Board passed a resolution regarding a Kentucky lynching
in which a black man was taken from jail and placed on the stage of the town’s
opera house. The crowd paid admission to fire at the victim – those
in the orchestra seats got six shots, those in the gallery, one. The Board
resolution called this the “culmination of spectacular, revolting, barbarous
brutality” that “impeached our civilization.” (vii)
White wrote of the 1918 lynching of pregnant Mary Turner in Valdosta, Georgia.
After she had been tied to a tree and burned:
“a man stepped forward with a pocketknife and ripped open her abdomen
in a crude Caesarean operation. ‘Out tumbled the prematurely born child,’”
White wrote. “‘Two feeble cries it gave – and received for
the answer the heel of a stalwart man, as life was ground out of the tiny
If a United States Senator, in the year 2005, can’t apologize for that,
what outrage is deserving of an apology? And who is deserving of a Senate
Last month the Senate considered a “resolution apologizing for past
failures to pass anti-lynching laws.” But they did not do so with a
roll call vote that would have put Senators on record. Instead, the Senate
Majority Leader allowed the resolution to be adopted under a “voice
vote procedure” that did not require any Senator’s presence.
you don’t need to be present for Dr. Frist to diagnose your medical
condition, why should he require your presence to vote?
The good doctor’s tactic allowed eight Senators to dodge the apology,
but they deserve a roll call here: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Thad Cochran
of Mississippi, John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Judd Gregg of
New Hampshire, Trent Lott of Mississippi, John Sununu of New Hampshire and
Craig Thomas of Wyoming.
Janet Langhart Cohen, wife of former Defense Secretary William Cohen, and
a member of the Committee for a Formal Apology, said of these Senators: “…
they’re hiding out, and it’s reminiscent of a pattern of hiding
out under a hood, in the night, riding past, scaring people.” (ix)
The resolution was important enough to one 91-year-old American that he made
the trip from his home here in Milwaukee to the Senate gallery for the vote.
Seventy-five years ago, when he was 16, James Cameron was arrested and jailed,
along with two other young black men, for the robbery, rape and assault of
a white couple in Marion, Indiana. A mob came to the jail. After his two friends
were lynched, the mob came for young James. He was beaten, dragged to the
tree from which his friends were hanging, and had a rope placed around his
neck. Then for some reason, the rope was removed, and James was allowed to
walk back to the jail. He served four years in prison, although the female
victim later confirmed his innocence.
Cameron would go on to organize three NAACP chapters in Indiana, becoming
the President of the Madison County Branch in the 1940s.
In 1993, 63 years after he survived the lynching, Mr. Cameron was pardoned
by Indiana Governor Evan Bayh. He has founded the American Black Holocaust
Museum here in Milwaukee – it is well worth a visit while you are here.
Tonight we are honored to have our nation’s only lynching survivor here
with us. Mr. James Cameron, we salute you.
There is not a single American –black, white, male, female, Christian,
Moslem or Jewish, straight or gay – who is not a beneficiary of the
work the NAACP did in the past and is doing today.
As I was preparing these remarks, I looked for the NAACP on “GOOGLE
NEWS”. I found over 2, 000 items. Here are just a few.
NAACP Youth and College Division released our manual on racial profiling
at our Regional Conference in Texas. Based on data gathered from the University
of Texas, the University of Houston, Texas Tech, Stephen Austin University,
Texas State at San Marcos and Sam Houston State, it will provide invaluable
information for college students of color at these and other schools.
Roanoke, Virginia Branch, while strongly supporting treatment for drug addicts,
opposed placing a methadone clinic near three schools.
Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP planned a march through New Orleans’
French Quarter to object to the killing of a black college student by three
night club bouncers.
Southeastern Region NAACP announced the opening of its annual Diversity
Job Fair in Atlanta.
Baltimore NAACP asked the FBI to investigate the death of an inmate after
he was beaten by correctional officers at the city jail.
Compton, California NAACP met with the Los Angeles County Sheriff in their
continuing protests against 120 shots fired at an unarmed black man.
in Covington, Louisiana, the NAACP elected a white woman as President of
you are a parent of school age children in Florida today, your kids can look
forward to an improved learning environment in smaller classes, thanks to
the NAACP. We helped put a referendum reducing class size on the Florida ballot,
and the people overwhelmingly voted “yes.” Governor Jeb Bush tried
to roll it back, and the legislature said “no”, all thanks to
If you live in Baytown, Virginia, your small community has received hundreds
of thousands of dollars in well-deserved aid over recent years. State and
federal agencies had ignored this tiny black town, but we put the spotlight
on them and the money poured forth – thanks to the NAACP.
If you belong to a motorcycle club – and many Africans-Americans
do(x) – you can now go to Myrtle
Beach, South Carolina, and be treated with respect, not contempt, thanks
to the NAACP. Myrtle Beach’s mayor claimed white motorcyclists were
quiet and peaceable; blacks on wheels, he opined, were dope-smoking rowdy
lawbreakers. We said to the Mayor, you’re wrong, and just two months
ago the courts said we we're right.
If you’re a felon in Pennsylvania, and have served your time, your right
to cast a vote has been restored, thanks to the NAACP.
If you stay in a hotel chain anywhere in America, if you drive a car, if you
use modern telecommunications, or if you’re employed at any level in
the hospitality, automobile or telecommunications industries, the chances
the business you work for or use employs African-Americans in jobs from top
to bottom, has blacks on its board of directors, buys goods and services from
black businesses have improved, thanks to the NAACP.
Our annual report cards give these industries grades from “A”
to “F,” and if you think they don’t care, remember how you
felt when you brought that “D” home to your parents. They care,
thanks to the NAACP.
If you’re Sidney Poitier – and who among the men here doesn’t
wish he were – when you sum up your career, you say, “Thanks to
the NAACP,” as did the late Ray Charles. Kerry Washington, the young
co-star of “Ray,” said she too gave thanks to the NAACP.
We are the largest volunteer association for justice in the United States.
We are the highest expression of self help. Our membership is not confined
to black women and men and youth. We are black and white and red and yellow.
And we are gay and lesbian. We are a cross section of America, heavily weighted
toward African-Americans, but in the National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People, we believe colored people come in all colors, all ages
and races, in both genders.
Anyone who shares our mission and values is welcome. Our values are American
values - we believe in tolerance, inclusion, equality, celebrating the worth
of every human being.
In March, we asked the prestigious National Opinion Research Center (NORC)
at the University of Chicago to conduct a survey of attitudes among African-Americans
and the general public. This is what they found.
Among a list of non-profit organizations, nearly 40% of whites think the NAACP
is “extremely” or “very” important; 46% of Hispanics
think the same, and almost 80% of African Americans give us this high rating.
And when black respondents are divided by age, more than 80% over 60 think
the NAACP is “important”; 80% of blacks between 45 and 59 think
the same; almost 80% between 30 and 44 agree, and 70% of blacks between 18
and 29 also think the NAACP is “important”.
We rank higher than the Urban League and the ACLU in familiarity among whites,
higher than the Scouts among Hispanics, and higher than every group except
the Red Cross among blacks.
Almost three-quarters - 73% - of blacks see the NAACP as effective, as do
a majority of whites (57%) and a strong minority of Hispanics (40%).
Almost 80% of blacks agree with the NAACP’s agenda; fewer than 3% disagree.
That’s where we are in American public opinion today. That’s why
we are the conscience of the nation.
We are part of a progressive coalition in America that over decades created
a truly compassionate government. It introduced Social Security and protection
for workers. It helped outlaw racial discrimination. It made preservation
of the environment a national priority. It gave Americans access to the courts
when calamity struck and redress was required. All this and more came about
because a coalition of the concerned worked together and voted together to
make the benefits of our democracy extend to all.
But in recent years, in a stealthy, devious campaign, the enemies of justice
and fair play have whittled away at the components of the progressive coalition.
They have successfully promoted deeply flawed economic and foreign policies.
They have passed tax cuts that were not only unfair but unaffordable.
Ideas of government that were marginal, even delusional, have moved to center
stage. The wacky has become the reality, the unimaginable is now taken for
How did they do it? How did they make political hay from barnyard straw?
They did it by coupling ostentatious piety with a victim mentality. They quoted
Martin Luther King and misused his message, all the while profiting from a
supine press. They reinforced their message by harnessing a round-the-clock
perpetual motion attack machine and echo chamber.
They’ve restricted access to the courts, capped damages for even the
most egregious practices, eviscerated class action lawsuits, and not coincidentally,
shielded industry after industry from legal scrutiny.
They’ve tried an aggressive campaign to seduce black clergy and create
a brand new political party, whose initials are F-B-G. That stands for the
Faith Based Grant Party. Their hope is to create an alliance of the neo-cons
and the theo-cons, all tied together by federal cash.
They’ve gone after labor unions, making it harder for workers to organize,
forbidding Transportation Security Administration employees the right to collectively
bargain for better pay and better working conditions.
attacking Social Security, the underpinning of every American’s dream
of retirement free from need and want.
They want private charity to replace government’s helping hand, substituting
faith-based organizations free to discriminate and proselytize for the fairness
and secularism required of the public sector. They offer America a challenge
– do we want to fight social inequality through the common power of
a democratic government accountable to all the people, or will we pass off
the problems of the poor and neglected to the church and the Salvation Army?
They’ve outsourced thousands and thousands of jobs; now they’re
even outsourcing torture, sending suspects to foreign lands. (xii)
budget is bush. It gives us the real meaning of the “ownership society”
– a society where you’re on your own. “They’re waging
class war from the top down, literally taking food from the mouths of poor
children and giving more largess to millionaires.” (xiii)
practicing trickle-down economics, and I’m tired of it trickling on
They profess to being true believers, but they are really true deceivers.
The Bible teaches us that: “[h]e who oppresses the poor reproaches his
Maker. But he that honors Him hath mercy on the poor.” (xiv)
deceptive is their approach to civil rights. Last fall the United States Commission
on Civil Rights issued a report confirming that the administration, at best,
has neglected civil rights issues and, at worst, has been aggressively hostile
to them. The report lists numerous examples of administration attempts to
abolish affirmative action and its concentration on alleged voter fraud at
the expense of voter enfranchisement.
The President likes to talk the talk, but he doesn’t walk the walk.
The report documents that of his public pronouncements on civil rights, fewer
than 20% have outlined plans for action. And of those, more than half pertained
to so-called “faith-based initiatives.”
Now they’ve banished the “uppity” Mary Berry to the woodshed
and installed in her place as Commission Chair Gerald Reynolds, whose claim
to fame is his outspoken opposition to race-based college admissions.
Reynolds once ran the Center for New Black Leadership, one of many organizations
dedicated to overturning the gains of the civil rights movement by putting
a black face on civil rights opposition.
The very names of these groups – the Institute for Justice, the Center
for Individual Rights, the American Civil Rights Institute – are fraudulent,
and their aims are frightening.
Having stolen our vocabulary, they also want to steal the just spoils of our
They are funded by an interlocking network of foundations – one of them
Milwaukee’s own Bradley Foundation.
They are the money, the motivation and the movement behind vouchers, the legal
assault on affirmative action and other remedies for discrimination, attempts
to reapportion us out of office, and attacks on equity everywhere.
They’ve had a collection of black hustlers and hucksters on their payrolls
for more than twenty years, promoting them as a new generation of black leaders.
They can’t deal with the leaders we choose for ourselves – so
they manufacture, promote and hire new ones. The late Lee Atwater predicted
this course years ago – he said we’re going to create “an
alternative leadership structure” in black America, and they have. (xv)
ventriloquists’ dummies, they speak in their puppet master’s voice,
but we can see his lips move and we can hear his money talk.
They’ve financed a conservative constellation of make-believe black-faced
front organizations, all of them hollow shells with more names on the letterhead
than there are people on their membership rolls.
They argue that the civil rights laws of the 1960s eliminated all discrimination,
that the playing field is now level, that every contestant stands equal at
the starting line. That some contestants have no shoes, that others find their
legs gripped by heavy baggage from the past, and that an advantaged few begin
the race at the finish line is of no consequence to these champions of the
Today’s civil rights movement doesn’t suffer from its imagined
excesses, but from the lies and distortions of its opponents. They tell us
discrimination against racial minorities is not a problem; society must protect
itself from discrimination against the majority instead.
tell us civil rights remedies produce civil wrongs.
They tell us class, not race, produces racial inequity, that culture, not
color, separates black from white. They reject the intergenerational effects
of racism as a cause of disadvantage; discrimination is dead, they say, and
cannot be at fault.
When the topic is black unemployment – always twice the rate for those
whose skins are white – they say past and present discrimination plays
no role. But when the subject is welfare dependency, crime, or other so-called
“pathologies,” these neo-segregationists never tire of listing
the cumulative effects of our racist past.
They used to say that slavery had been a civilizing influence, that lynching
was caused by “Negro criminality,”(xvi)
that Jim Crow laws were paternalistic efforts to protect black people. Now
they want Americans to believe that the “race” problem is due
to black rage, to white liberal guilt, to what they call racial “preferences,”
and to black pathology.
We emphatically reject this new racist ideology.
We know that in some important ways nonwhite Americans face problems more
difficult to attack now than in the years that went before. We believe these
problems, old ones and new ones, have their root in race and racial discrimination.
So when we are asked why the NAACP doesn’t focus on social service,
we respond that we are an organization that fights racial discrimination.
original incorporation papers of the NAACP listed as its goals:
“To promote equality of rights and eradicate caste or racial prejudice
among the citizens of the United States; to advance the interests of colored
citizens; to secure for them impartial suffrage; and to increase their opportunities
for securing justice in the courts, education for their children, and complete
equality before the law.”
remains our mission today.
There are thousands of organizations in America which deliver social service,
and properly so. The NAACP is one of very few which concentrates on social
justice. We believe that racial discrimination is a prime reason why the gaps
between black and white life chances remain so wide. And we believe that to
the degree we are able to reduce discrimination and close these race-caused
gaps, we will see the lives of our people improve and their prosperity increase.
We believe when our people have more social justice, they will need less social
One central issue on the civil rights agenda – economic justice –
remains unfulfilled and largely unaddressed. Martin Luther King Jr. lost his
life supporting a garbage workers’ strike in Memphis; the right to decent
work at decent pay is as basic to our freedom as the right to vote.
Dr. King said in 1961, “are almost entirely a working people. There
are pitifully few Negro millionaires and few Negro employers. Our needs are
identical to labor’s needs – decent wages, fair working conditions,
livable housing, old-age security, health and welfare measures, conditions
in which families can grow, have education for their children, and respect
in their community.”
there are more black millionaires today is tribute to the movement King led.
That there are proportionately fewer blacks working today is an indictment
of our times and our economic system, a reflection of our challenges in keeping
the movement coming on.
The median white household today has 62% more income and twelve times as much
wealth as the median black household. Sixty-one percent of African-Americans
and half of all Latinos have no financial assets at all.(xvii)
the NAACP has as its CEO-elect a man who understands these challenges well
and already has said he wants to make economic justice one of his priorities
as our new leader.
Bruce Gordon comes to us after a 35-year career in telecommunications, most
recently as President of Verizon’s Retail Markets Group. In this capacity,
he managed a workforce of 35,000 and was responsible for $23 billion in revenue.
And – Bruce is a son of the NAACP. His father, Walter Gordon, was a
founding member of the Camden, New Jersey Branch, and served for many years
as its Treasurer.
And – just like me – Bruce is married to someone who is smarter
and better looking than he is. Tawana Tibbs also enjoyed a successful career
as a telecommunications executive. During her career, she was an active member
of black, Hispanic, and women’s employee resource groups and the National
Association of Black Telecommunications Professionals.
Bruce and Tawana – please stand, so we can welcome you into the NAACP
We also ought to extend our thanks to Interim President/CEO Dennis Hayes;
once again, as he did in the past, he has taken the helm of the NAACP in a
transition time, and we are grateful for his careful stewardship.
Thanks go too to Interim General Counsel Angela Ciccolo – who stepped
up to replace Dennis Hayes and performed her task admirably.
Forty years ago last March, President Lyndon Johnson spoke to Congress about
new civil rights protections he was proposing. He said then:
“[T]he harsh fact is that in many places in the country men and women
are kept from voting simply because they are Negroes. Every device of which
human ingenuity is capable has been used to deny this right. … Experience
has clearly shown that the existing processes of law cannot overcome systematic
and ingenious discrimination. In such a case, our duty must be clear to all
of us. The Constitution says no person shall be kept from voting because of
his race or color. We have all sworn an oath before God to support and favor
will not favor everything that we do. It is rather our duty to divine His
will. I cannot help but believe that he really favors the undertaking that
we begin here tonight.”(xviii)
week before Johnson’s speech, Alabama State Troopers and mounted members
of the Dallas County sheriff’s posse had beaten peaceful protestors
at Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge. The national outrage at Selma’s
Bloody Sunday met Johnson’s months-old plan to insure black Southerners
could vote. Within months, the 1965 Voting Rights Act became law.(xix)
is generally agreed to be the “most effective civil rights law ever
passed.” The late President Ronald Reagan said it protects “the
crown jewel” of our democracy. (xx)
as we celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the Act, we also face the expiration
of certain of its provisions. Three key parts of the Voting Rights Act will
expire in 2007 unless Congress reauthorizes them. One is the portion which
allows federal observers to go to certain jurisdictions where there is evidence
of intimidation of minority voters. Another is the section which provides
bilingual assistance to voters.
Third, and most important, is Section 5, which requires “pre-clearance”
of changes to voting practices and procedures in covered jurisdictions. These
include redistricting, annexation, at-large elections, polling place changes,
and new rules for candidate qualifying – all of which can be used to
discriminate. A bi-partisan Congressional report in 1982 warned that without
this provision, discrimination would reappear “overnight.”
Anyone who claims that voting rights for minority Americans are now secure
need only look to Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. A recent report said that
28 percent of all Ohio voters and 52 percent of black voters said they experienced
problems in voting. And a dismal 19 percent of black voters expressed confidence
that their votes were properly counted.(xxi)
right here in Milwaukee, a cowardly and non-existent group calling itself
the Milwaukee Black Voter League distributed a leaflet just before last fall’s
election, telling black citizens they couldn’t vote for President if
they’d already voted in an election that year; that a traffic violation
made them ineligible to vote; that conviction for anything by anyone in a
voter’s family made the voter ineligible and that violating any of these
restrictions would result in a prison term and the seizure of their children.
Making democracy safe for America’s minorities is as important as making
the world safe for democracy. We want elections in foreign lands to be free
and fair, and we expect no less of the United States.
The NAACP has always been non-partisan, but that doesn’t mean we’re
non-critical. And it doesn’t mean we’re non compos mentis.
We don’t oppose political parties; we never have. We oppose wrongful
The NAACP opposed going to war in Iraq. How right we were!
The war has created what its sponsors said was its cause. In this senseless
war, liberators have become occupiers, and the war’s defenders have
descended to the lowest level of political discourse – if you oppose
the war, you oppose the troops.
That’s idiotic nonsense. If it was up to us, every uniformed man and
women in Iraq would be alive and safe and sound at home. We support our fighting
women and men.
Our national leaders fail to understand today what one of our earliest leaders
– Dr. W. E. B. Dubois – clearly understood years ago.
“Honest and earnest criticism from those whose interests are most nearly
touched – criticism of writers by readers, of government by those governed,
of leaders by those led – this is the soul of democracy and the safeguard
of modern society.” (xxii)
may try to intimidate us into silence, but we will not be frightened away
from the truth.
as they would have you believe that if you oppose the war, you are against
our troops, they would also have you believe that if you don’t support
extremist judges, you’re not a Christian. You’re a heathen or
But we ought to recall the words of Galileo, who said:
“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed
us with sense, reason and intellect, has intended us to forgo their use.”
Unfortunately, some Democrats won’t take their own side in a fight,
as they showed when they entered into an empty compromise on judicial nominees.
The “compromise” gave new meaning to the term “bi-partisanship.”
It now means “one side caves in.” They’ve redefined compromise
to mean capitulation.
The agreement allowed the worst of the administration’s nominees to
be confirmed, including the female Clarence Thomas – Janice Rogers Brown.
After years and years of telling us that race doesn’t matter and shouldn’t
matter, her supporters decided race does matter after all, just as his supporters
of Thomas’ confirmation fight, they played the ‘race’ card
and the ‘bootstrap’ card and the ‘Bible’ card. This
was three card monte from a stacked deck.
The ‘Bible’ card says people oppose the candidate not because
his or her views are nutty, but because the candidate goes to church.
‘bootstrap’ card tells the story of a rise from poverty and hardship
to triumph and glory. Janice Brown was touted as an Alabama sharecropper’s
daughter, but her father farmed 158 acres and they moved to California when
she was young.
‘race’ card, of course, is the most powerful, and it trumps all
the other cards in the deck.
Using race substitutes pigment for principle, and color for capability. It
suggests that people of color aren’t bright enough to see the difference
between those who oppose and those who support civil rights. It suggests a
distorted equivalence, that fights for and against constitutional rights are
all the same.
These powerful cards did the job, and they even convinced some people who
ought to know better, who ought to have learned their lesson when Clarence
Thomas came along, shuffling his cards in his hand.
Remember what some said then? They said, “Once he gets confirmed, he’ll
change, you’ll see.”
He did change. He got worse!
Now we wait in trepidation as President Bush nominates a Supreme Court Justice.
We will support any nominee who stands for justice and fair play, and oppose
any who is hostile to civil rights and civil liberties.
To date, the successful Bush nominees to the federal district courts are the
most conservative of any recent president. On racial discrimination, the President’s
federal district judges score the lowest of any modern chief executive. (xxiii)
ideas they hold, the rulings they have made and their speeches place them
in a dim and gloomy legal netherworld where few Americans wish to dwell.
We know one vote counts. One vote, for example, upheld affirmative action
in higher education – and that vote belonged to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
It is imperative that her replacement exhibit similar independence of mind
Justice O’Connor has been on the court for 24 years, and her replacement
is likely to serve that long or longer.
There can be no issue of greater or more immediate importance than the upcoming
confirmation battle, and we intend to be in the thick of the fight.
We have a long and honorable tradition of social justice in this country.
It still sends forth the message that when we act together we can overcome.
We have no permanent friends, and no permanent enemies, just permanent interests,
and those interests are justice and freedom.
It is a serious mistake – both tactical and moral – to believe
this is a fight that must or should be waged by black Americans alone. That
has never been so in centuries past; it ought not to be so in the century
Black, yellow, red and white – all are needed in this fight.
All of us are implicated in the continuation of inequality – it will
require our common effort to bring it to an end.
Our agenda for this new century includes litigating, organizing, continuing
to mobilize, and forming coalitions of the caring and concerned, joining ranks
against the comfortable, the callous and the smug.
We will fight discrimination, wherever it raises its ugly head – in
the halls of government, in corporate suites or in the streets.
We demand fair treatment for people with HIV/AIDS, especially for people of
color. This disease strikes African-American women more than any other group.
It doesn’t happen to “others” – it happens to all
We demand that “criminal justice” ceases being an oxymoron. We
know race, more than any other factor, determines who is arrested, who is
tried and for what crime, who gets what length of sentence, and who receives
the ultimate punishment – and we are determined that that stop.
We must insure that our children – in inner city and suburban and rural
schools - receive the best education, an education that prepares them for
the century just begun.
We must provide health care, protect Social Security, and promote peace.
There is much more - none of it easy work, but we have never wished our way
to freedom. Instead, we have always worked our way.
In our tenth annual report, the NAACP said its goal was “to reach the
conscience of America.” (xxiv)
That remains our goal today.
As Frederick Douglass taught us:
“Who would be free, must themselves strike the blow. You know that liberty
given is never so precious as liberty sought for and fought for. The man outraged
is the man to make the outcry. Depend upon it, men will not care much for
a people who do not care for themselves.”
care for ourselves. We care for our country. We are the conscience of the
NAACP Office of Communications 410.580.5125
“The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation is
a particularly interesting case. According to PFAW, Bradley, whose recipients
list ‘reads like a Who's Who of the U.S. Right,’ is a major funding
source for the Center for Individual Rights, which brought the Hopwood v.
Texas case that ended affirmative action at the University of Texas law school.
Bradley played a major role in financing Pete Wilson and Ward Connerly's Prop
209, and, through the Pacific Legal Foundation, Bradley ‘provided pro
bono representation to ...Wilson in his challenge to five state statutes dealing
with affirmative action. ...’ Clint Bolick, vice president of the Institute
for Justice, another recipient of Bradley money, "played a pivotal role
in attacks on Lani Guinier, President Clinton's nominee to head the Justice
Department's Civil Rights Division. Bolick's Wall Street Journal opinion piece
headlined 'Clinton's Quota Queen' dredged up the worst racist and sexist stereotypes
and helped throw the Guinier nomination on the defensive. Even more striking
is that Bradley grants supported Charles Murray and the late Harvard psychologist
Richard Hernstein while they wrote The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class
Structure in American Life. According to PFAW, ‘the book was widely
seen as a piece of profoundly racist and classist pseudo-science, and was
denounced by the American Psychological Association. It had relied heavily
on studies financed by the Pioneer Fund, a neo-Nazi organization that promoted
eugenicist research. Immediately after its publication, Bradley raised Murray's
annual grant to $163,000.’” In “Blackwashing” by Joshua
Holland, Gadflyer, (July 26, 2004).
Martin Luther King, Jr. “MIA Mass Meeting at
Holt Street Baptist Church” (December 5, 1955).
Clayborne Carson, “To Walk in Dignity: The
Montgomery Bus Boycott,” OAH Magazine of History at 13 (January 2005).
Herbert Shapiro, White Violence and Black Response
at 32 (U. Mass Press 1988).
Id. at 31.
Id. at 142.
Lerone Bennett, Jr., Before the Mayflower: A History
of Black America at 352 (Johnson Publishing Company 1987).
Salon.com (June 16, 2005).
African-Americans on Wheels.
A 1993 leadership study by Brakeley, John Price Jones,
Inc., showed 75% of blacks believed the NAACP the leader among groups with
civil rights, social justice and race relations agendas. In this study, 75%
of all respondents believed the NAACP adequately represented the black community.
An October 1995 US News and World Report poll reported 90% of blacks supported
the NAACP. In an April 1998 poll conducted by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding,
81% of blacks reported a favorable opinion of the NAACP. The NAACP is profoundly
democratic. “Nationally, the NAACP (of all black civil rights/political
organizations) is governed by its individually based membership.” In
Class Notes by Adolph Reed, The New Press, New York.
“Torture, American Style", Bob Herbert,
New York Times (February 11, 2005).
Paul Krugman, “Bush’s Class War Budget,”
New York Times (February 12, 2004).
Holland, Id. - “Project 21 is one small part
of a broad coalition of black conservative groups that fight for issues of
concern to the business community. These organizations draw their intellectual
inspiration from Thomas Sowell's landmark 1975 book Race and Economics, one
of the founding documents of the new black conservative movement. Just as
born-again conservatives like David Horowitz and Zell Miller are showered
with praise and money, black conservatives are embraced and elevated by the
conservative movement as living repudiations of liberalism. So Sowell and
others - like Robert L. Woodson of the American Enterprise Institute, J.A.
Parker of the Lincoln Institute, sometime presidential candidate Alan Keyes
of Black America's PAC (BAMPAC), and Jackie Cissel of the Black Alliance for
Educational Options - have little trouble finding cushy think-tank sinecures
and generous support for their organizations. Many among this small group
of prominent black conservatives are on several groups' advisory boards, adding
to the appearance of a broad ideological movement. Cissel, for one, also serves
as regional director for the African American Republican Leadership Council,
a group whose mission ‘is to break the liberal Democrat stranglehold
over Black America,’ according to their web site. As Washington Post
columnist Gene Weingarten reported last year, 13 out of the 15 members of
the AALRC's Advisory Panel are white. They include such well known minority
champions as the Free Congress Foundation's Paul Weyrich, Grover Norquist
of Americans for Tax Reform, the Reverend Lou Sheldon, Gary Bauer of the Family
Research Council, David Keene of the American Conservative Union, and Fox
News host Sean Hannity. What do people like Weyrich, Norquist, Bauer and Hannity
have in common with the black conservatives? It's more than a common affection
for low taxes and non-existent government regulation of business. Conservative
activists understand that the GOP's history of tolerating bigots in their
ranks and seeking out their votes, from Nixon's ‘Southern Strategy’
to George H.W. Bush's use of Willie Horton to George W. Bush's courting of
the confederate vote in the 2000 South Carolina primary, presents a problem
for moderate voters of all races. Finding African-Americans to make the conservative
case goes a long way toward wiping those memories from the public mind.
Big Men on Campus
But ideology starts outside of Washington, and one of the most important ideological
battle grounds for the black conservative movement is on campus, where many
of the faculty in the social sciences and humanities believe the silly notion
that structural racism still exists in America, and aren't afraid to say so.
So in 1998, the Young America's Foundation formed the Alternative Black Speakers
Program ‘in response to the overwhelmingly leftist bent of Black History
Month on campuses,’ according to a press release. The program sends
conservative black speakers to college campuses across the country, ‘giving
students an alternative to the often radical and irresponsible message of
black lecturers appearing on campuses as part of official university programs.’
One of YAF's top executives is Floyd Brown, the infamous dirty trickster responsible
for creating the 1988 anti-Dukakis ads featuring Willie Horton's menacing
Perhaps the most visible black conservative in the campus wars is Ward Connerly,
president of the American Civil Rights Institute (ACRI). Connerly was a protégé
of former California Governor Pete Wilson, who appointed him to the University
of California's Board of Regents. Connerly drafted Wilson's anti-affirmative
action initiative Prop 209, and is now attempting to bring a similar ballot
measure to Michigan. When asked what he thought about Trent Lott's comments
about segregation in 2002, Connerly told CNN: ‘Supporting segregation
need not be racist. One can believe in segregation and believe in equality
of the races.’ According to the civil rights group By Any Means Necessary
(disclosure: I am a member of BAMN), Connerly reportedly makes $400,000 dollars
per year as the president of ACRI.
Follow the Money
And that's what seems to unite these seemingly disparate groups - money. Every
black conservative group I've mentioned - without exception - receives a significant
portion of their funding (in some cases all of their funding) from at least
three of four ultra-conservative foundations (the Lincoln Institute gets its
share funneled indirectly through the conservative Hoover Institution). The
four are the usual suspects of the Right's political ATM: Richard Scaife's
family foundations, Adolph Coors' Castle Rock Foundation, The John M. Olin
Foundation, and the Linde and Harry Bradley Foundation. What's striking about
these groups' underwriting of ‘minority organizations’ is that
some of them have at times displayed what many would consider a frankly racist
agenda. Scaife has gained notoriety as one of the great funders of the "New
Conservative" movement. While he is best known for his anti-Clinton activities,
including paying for the American Spectator's ‘Arkansas Project,’
he has plenty of unsavory grantees; the Charlotte Observer reported that he
provided funding for Children Requiring A Caring Community, a scary fringe
group that pays poor women to be surgically sterilized or to undergo long-term
birth control. According to People For The American Way (PFAW), William Coors
gave a speech in 1984 in which he reportedly told a largely African American
audience that ‘one of the best things they [slave traders] did for you
is to drag your ancestors over here in chains.’ Later in the speech,
he asserted that weakness in the Zimbabwe economy was due to black Africans'
‘lack of intellectual capacity.’ The speech drew controversy and
a boycott by African American and Hispanic groups. In response, Coors pledged
hundreds of millions of dollars to African American and Hispanic organizations.
Apparently, black conservative groups run by white Republicans count.”
Shapiro, id at 31.
Bill Moyers, “Take Back America Conference,”
June 3, 2005.
President Lyndon Baines Johnson, March 15, 1965.
Voting Rights Act of 1965, Pub. L. No. 89-110 Stat.
President Ronald Reagan, 18 Weekly Comp. Pres. Doc.
846 (June 29, 1982).
Dan Balz, “Democrats Say 2004 Election System
Failed in Ohio,” The Washington Post at A-10 (June 23, 2005).
W. E. B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903).
Carp, Robert A., Kenneth L. Manning and Robert D.
Stidham, “The Decision-Making Behavior of George W. Bush’s Judicial
Appointees,” 88 Judicature 20 (July-August 2004), pp 20 – 28.
The authors examine 410 decisions of Bush federal district judges in the areas
of civil liberties and rights (208 decisions), labor economic regulations
(118 decisions), and criminal justice (84 decisions), p. 25. They find that
overall 36% of these decisions can be coded as liberal, about the same percentages
as the appointees of preceding Republican presidents (p. 25). However, when
the authors examine the 208 decisions in civil liberties and rights, including
abortion, free speech, right to privacy, racial discrimination, affirmative
action, gay rights, etc., they find only a 28% liberal score, the “lowest
of any modern chief executive” (p. 26).
August Meier & John H. Bracey, Jr., “The
NAACP as a Reform Movement, 1909 – 1965:’ To Reach the Conscience
of America,’” The Journal of Southern History, Vol. LIX, No.1
at 6 (February 1993).