When the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP) was founded in 1909, black people faced a different set of challenges than they do today. Back then, African-Americans were dealing with blatant racism, segregation and lynchings. Today, America has an African-American president and the organization is again forced to address the issue of their relevance. Princeton University professor, Eddie S. Glaude Jr., was quoted in an article in the Washington Post ;
The intersection of Obama’s presidency and those realities encapsulates “a moment of confusion in the black community,”. How are we to continue to talk about how race and racism determine the life chances of Americans in the context of a black man holding the presidency in his hands? We can look at the NAACP as a kind of petri dish for answering that question.”
It doesn’t make it any better that in recent times the NAACP has seen a decline in membership (the NAACP offices in the twin cities have been pretty inactive). The article cites a poll conducted last month showing that fewer black people see racism as a major societal problem. Benjamin Jealous, who at 36 is the youngest leader of the organization, argued for its existence;
Ben Jealous compares the challenge of leading the NAACP during the Obama presidency to the one faced by civil rights leaders in the 1980s and ’90s. Legal barriers to black progress had long been removed, and the doors had opened for black political advancement. Not all of those elected, however, pushed the agenda of the civil rights community.
“Having experienced the first black mayors and first black governors, we know that if our community doesn’t stay organized and make our needs known even more aggressively that we will be disappointed,” Jealous says. “We want Obama’s legacy to be as great as his campaign, but as somebody once said, ‘I believe that we are in the Promised Land, but it ain’t no place for sleeping.’ “
Another issue I think the organization should address, is the non-homogeneity of black America. Under the umbrella of black people in America are the ‘New’ African-Americans; Haitian-Americans, Liberian-Americans, Somali-Americans and Kenyan-Americans and Liberian-American. Where (if at all) will they feature in the NAACPs redefined mission?