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Does the NAACP Need to Improve Its Own Image?

What does the R. Kelly Image Award nomination say for the NAACP? Sadly, it's just another mis-step from a faltering organization.

By John Lee

Once upon a time, the NAACP was at the forefront of legal, political and societal progress in race relations in this country. Once upon a time, the grand old organization policed pop culture as well as city hall, speaking out against questionable entertainment, picketing movies that deamned black people.

Boy, have things changed.

Questionable agendas, invisible initiatives, and vacant quotes are the hallmark of today's NAACP. A quick glance at their website shows that their slate of "Activities for the Week" has been blank for months. Perhaps more unsettling to many, the organization seems to bestow its annual "Image" awards less upon artists who make a difference in the lives of African Americans than on just about any old celebrity who happens to be black "” and hey, who cares if some of the nominees present just about the worst "image" anyone can image. R. Kelly, anyone?

The Image Awards, which air tonight on Fox, represent a cash-generation vehicle for the NAACP, which guilts stars into participating "” the stars get exposure and a nifty award, the NAACP profits by selling the show to networks and from the sponsorship dollars from Disney, Blockbuster and Sprint. As with many of the smaller music award shows, the winners are usually negotiated ahead of time to arrange performances that help promote the show.

The NAACP came in for some criticism when R. Kelly, the R&B superstar whose penchant for pubescent philandering has become a matter of public record, was nominated for an Image Award (album of the year for his The Chocolate Factory). There isn't really an adequate defense to mount for rewarding a man who is accused of urinating in 13-year-old girls' mouths. But NAACP Chairman Kwesi Mfume anemically defended the action, saying, "It is not he [Kelly] that is being nominated; it is the album by him." Who is supposed to pick up the award? Do they expect the CD or 12-inch is going to walk up on stage to accept it? This, we'd like to see.

But of course, we won't be able to "” the NAACP Image Award went not to Kelly but to fellow nominee Luther Vandross, for his album Dances With My Father. Whew.

While not directly indicting R. Kelly, Mfume released a follow-up statement outlining that future nominations for Image awards will be generated internally in order avoid this situation. The blame, they imply, lies with the processes of letting the broader NAACP membership to nominate artists for the awards. If this is true, it illustrates a serious problem with what we assumed to be progressive black intellectual capital at work under the auspices of the venerable NAACP. Who knew that the civil rights movement could be co-opted by being star-struck? Let's hope Jim Crow doesn't start a rock act.

Mfume was reluctant to name R. Kelly directly, probably from reserved position that R. Kelly hasn't been convicted of a crime as of yet, yet the statement is tacit admission that the NAACP flubbed. Winners are selected by the NAACP board, so there was no chance the embarrassment would go further, but even the nomination gives him legitimacy and threatens to make his transgression a non-issue. The organization needs to go one step further and actually rebuke artists who have a negative image.

R. Kelly, although not convicted, trails a series of troubling events. His documented relationship with Aliyaah started when the singer was still a minor. In attempt to give the appearance of legality, they were quickly married and a record label deal was orchestrated for her family "” a deal that was rescinded after her untimely death. The charges against him paint a picture of a man who chooses victims from families he knows, families who have economic needs. The money he pays them offsets their outrage at the loss of their daughters' innocence. Kelly has actually taken to calling himself the Pied Piper, in apparent mockery of the charges against him. In the old days, this type of behavior could ruin careers; now it seems to be a boon. Unmolested by boycotts, Kelly has enjoyed increased success after the accusations began. He graced the cover of nearly all the urban music magazines this year, as though he is a conquering hero.

This year's controversy over R. Kelly's nomination echoes an earlier mis-step in NAACP Award history "” when, in 1997, the organization bestowed honors upon the Church of Scientology for its literacy programs and the prestigiously named W.E.B. Du Bois leadership award to the quasi church's founder, the late L. Ron Hubbard. Formerly a science fiction writer, Hubbard created the creed that believes in Galactic Councils and using voltmeters to get rid of alien spirits attached to our bodies. One of the most visible black scientologists is Isaac Hayes, who credits Scientology with resituating his career, but Scientology is not notable for its racial progressiveness; before his death Hubbard was known to mention his disdain for black people, which probably wasn't factored into his posthumous award.

There is no doubt that the NAACP has an illustrious history. But it's been about two decades since the NAACP has been anything but an empty vessel for B-grade bureaucrats who stared at Civil Rights Leader posters too long in school. Lacking any real direction or initiatives, the organization is now best known for producing an anemic awards show. How the mighty have fallen.


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My problem with the NAACP as an advocate for the well-being of African America is documented on this forum. The organization is misguided, misinformation, and a REPEATED failure to act to protect the right to vote for African Americans. They have had, at least, 7 years of now is not the time preceded by 15 years of do nothing.




Jim Chester
The NAACP has and still continues to do some good has had its leadership and agenda issues....but personally....I do not drag blacks or black organizations through the mud without having a set of recommendations for improvement to offer. Those who do otherwise come across as self-castigating for the sport of it and not too much more...........
Originally posted by Kevin41:
The NAACP has and still continues to do some good has had its leadership and agenda issues....but personally....I do not drag blacks or black organizations through the mud without having a set of recommendations for improvement to offer. Those who do otherwise come across as self-castigating for the sport of it and not too much more...........

I'm not sure about the "self-castigating" part of it, but otherwise I agree.

As for improvement, I am on record on this board, and in writing with the President, Chairman of the Board, and its Washington lobbyist with the things I think the organization should do to serve African America personally. I have also made those things known to the lobbyist (Hilary Shelton)sp in person in November 2003.

To be positive criticism should contain alternatives.


Jim Chester
Originally posted by sunnubian:
The NAACP image is not necessarily the problem; the problem is, that the NAACP needs to decide once and for all if they are fighting for civil rights or if they are only fighting for the civils rights of people when the particular case at hand will give the NAACP a lot of publicity.

Amen to that Sunnubian. Kevin41, I have a great suggestion for a few groups who I'd like to see make a comeback. The Black Panther Party and the UNIA. The NAACP can be the legal arm in coordination with these organizations.
Originally posted by Kevin41:
I think it is self-catstigating when one speaks badly of their own...with no intention of offering any beneficial input....and never have anything to say about others that are waay worse....that is just self-hatred manifesting itself indirectly............

I see your point. I too have apprehension to criticize those who intend to do good for African America. I have decided that it is not wrong to expose those who are doing the job badly, or wrong.

I do it with regret, but I do it. I don't do it cavalierly. I try to make the criticism have a purpose. If there is no purpose, you are clearly "doing Charlie's Job."


Jim Chester
Excuse me but if you havn't anything good to offer with the bad you just shut up. That is what is wrong with any group, in the absence of people calling them on the carpet they continue to function in the same old way.

And what is the deal with criticizing your own, if you were dealing with a crooked businessman who was black would you keep quiet and just take it HELL NO and you shouldn't. I have no regret doing it and no one else should either, how are we suppose to move ahead as a people if we lack the courage to call our own out for the wrong that they do.

My suggestion is for the NAACP to get back to its roots of what is important in our communities. Every issue may not be a headliner in the news but they are issues that make differences in our lives. Embrace the new young leaders coming out of the communities and just don't dismiss them because they didn't march with Dr. King.

If they have lost their direction then maybe they need to go back to the people who they are suppose to be helping and say "what is most important to you, what is the good fight that we should be fighting".
yeah....but just clebrating someone's shortcomings in their face is not doing schit for them...if I am going to take the time to posture myself to pass judgement on others.....I will include some sound for no other reason.....I do not start to view myself as a self-righteous, castigating, judgemental SOB.....there are enough of those in the world already.....As so far as things going right...they do not hold my interest past trying to improve them and duplicate them elsewhere......I understand the concept that progress gets stopped anytime there is excess celebration going on.....
The NAACP should do a better job coalition building between the many grass root level organizations. Right now the NAACP is too insular and top heavy. Right now we have plenty of "programs" that are working on a local level but rarely are the lessons learned from these programs applied systemically. As such we have a million groups besides the majors that have great intentions but are getting in the way of each other. There is no formal mechanism for combining their resources to achieve similar goals. This is where the NAACP and other national organizations can come in as centralized hubs that facilitate communication and the sharing of resources by grassroot and community level organizations. We have a great tool in the internet that can make this happen but the NAACP has not seized this opportunity. Instead conferences and conventions are held in expensive hotels, while speakers preach to concerned members of our community about the dangers of Hip Hop and OOW children.
Something as simple as a NAACP "message board" like this one could go along way in building an "intranet" per say for black social action groups and organizations.
My point being, if the NAACP shifted some of it's focus to coalition building between grassroot organizations that would go a long way in improving its image and demonstrating its necessity to members of our community.
If you want to speak to the NAACP, join. Then you can "speak' to the Chapter President, who can "talk" to the Branch President, who can "consult' with the District Manager, who may "get the ear" of the Regional Administrator, who may "get time with" the Chariman of the State Caucus at the next State-wide Meeting where the agenda for the National Convention is developed.

There you concern may be evaluated for its consistency with national plan, and ever-present current wisdom, of the organization.


Jim Chester
Thanks for clarifying this point ----the NAACP has lost touch with the common people---the people that need an association like this the most. The NAACP is also being stroked by many entities that cause problems for African Americans; I am sorry that everyone cannot see what is really happened to this organization over the years.

I still know that the NAACP does a lot of good still, however, it all depends on where you live, what the issue is, who you are and who you are not now more that shear justice.

Where was the NAACP when every school in nearly every African American community was closed down during/since integration?

Where is the NAACP where all of the discriminatory and/or mandatory minimum sentences are waged against predominately black America?

Where is the NAACP while in city after city, county after county, African Americans are being railroaded to prisons by way of gross constitutional violations and prosecutorial misconduct in our court systems?

Where is the NAACP while African America is under constant surveillance by enforcing agencies?

Where is the NAACP while a disporportionate amount of our children are suspended in schools, mis-labeled as having some sort of "mental disorder," or are receiving slanted grading practices in schools in this country?

Where is the NAACP when the person with a complain or concern is nobody special and their injustice is not news worthy?

. . . just a few quick observations.
The same points Sunnubian stated about the NAACP can also be said for another African American organziation known as "Operation Push" or is it "Rainbow Coalition", Jesse Jackson's organization. Its been said, Jesse is black mailing white organizations. In order to avoid a outcry of injustice from his organization they are willing to pay "hush" monies. Hmm, makes you wonder whose good these type of organizations are working for.

Have these organization had their time and now its time for a complete overhaul. R. Kelly recieving an "Image Award" is baffling. Who would want to support an organization who honors a man accused of child molestation. Consent or not, she was only 14 years old, a mere child.
I would definitely agree that the NAACP needs to improve its own image ... and sunnubian hits the nail on the head as far as all the reasons why.

There is something, though, that I think is misunderstood about the NAACP by many of us, and although this is in no way meant to be a defense of that organization, I think it is an important thing to mention.

The NAACP was never exclusively an "African American" or "Black" organization. It's mission, from its inception, was never meant to be an organization exclusively for us. I think many of us believe it should be and that it should act accordingly, but the truth is, if they are not about trying to focus on the issues that matter most to us, but are working on an agenda that meant to encompass "colored people" as a whole, then the matters they take up and the way they approach them are not going to make them "our" organization. More like an organization to help us maybe ... but that is clearly not the same thing.

Perhaps our expectations for the NAACP are misguided for this reason. If so, maybe they are doing what they're supposed to be doing ... and what we need is somebody else to be doing something else!!
I guess that "Bush at 29%" was not enough to make this NAACP chapter focus on what is IMPORTANT for Black people. fo

Makes you wonder about their standing to charge someone else about "election fraud".

They are forgetting the formula that works best for them today in the Post-Civil Rights Movement era: FOCUS ON OUTSIDE ENEMIES AS A MEANS TO UNITE THE MEMBERSHIP AND NOT HAVE TO DEAL WITH IMPORTANT THINGS ON THE INSIDE THAT MIGHT CAUSE SUCH A CONFLICT. fo

Chaos and assault plague the Cincinnati NAACP

Friday, January 26, 2007

Posted by Justin Jeffre

Photo courtesy of here.

Last night's meeting was scheduled for 6 o'clock, but it started around 6:30 pm"”opening with a quiet prayer from Rev. Roger Sherman. Five minutes later there was commotion as he rose up in a fit of anger, had to be restrained, and he allegedly threatened to shoot a nearby woman. Moments later, Andrewnette Phillips stood up and shared that Sherman had threatened to shoot her friend and others. Phillips said she was very concerned about her safety, and the safety of others. Andrewnette works in the mental health field and doesn't believe threats of that nature should be taken lightly, so she called the police.

Current President Edith Thrower failed to investigate the matter further, but she did reprimand a vocal crowd after Sherman"”one of her executive members"”shouted, "Would you please tell them to refrain from calling us crooks!" Thrower said personal attacks and character assassinations shouldn't be made.

Shortly after the police came, Sherman walked out of the room. After they spoke to him and Phillips, he was asked to leave the building.

I went to investigate the situation, and I was confronted at the door by two large men. It was clear they were with Rev. Victor Brown, who had gone out to talk to the police for Sherman. One man told me I had to stay in or out. I asked him why"”am I not free to go where I please? They told me I couldn't stand by the door. Edith Thrower came to the back where we were, and said (with an aggravated tone) that if anyone was going to leave they had to take the elevator. Charles Miller and his friend pointed towards the elevator. I told them I would not leave as Thrower walked back towards the front of the room.

I am a member of the NAACP in good standing.

When I went towards my seat, Charles Miller grabbed me by both shoulders and told me I needed to leave. I shook his hands off and walked back to my seat in a state of shock.

A young woman said, "He just assaulted you, you should tell the police."

"It's all right," I said, "I'm not scared of him." Looking very concerned, Christopher Smitherman came over and sat next to me and asked me if I was ok. Thrower failed to react.

Many members first became vocal after Thrower refused to recognize the minutes from the December 28th meeting. (She tried to adjourn that meeting after only a few minutes because many members fell out of order when she announced that the membership roster was not available due to a "computer glitch." She also stated that there had been threats made on her life. The overwhelming majority of the membership refused to adjourn and the meeting was chaired by Robert Richardson jr. and other committee members. Former NAACP president and election observer Dr. Marian Spencer and Rep. Tyrone Yates attended the meeting.)

The controversy first started after the November election when challenged ballots weren't counted by the official tellers. Official observers say those ballots were only counted several days later after Rev. Victor Brown had them in his sole possession in a white cardboard shoebox that they say was not sealed. Many observers complained that Brown failed to produce the membership roster at the time of the election.

Sherrie Richardson, an Executive Supervisory Committee member, said "Whenever someone was challenged [Brown] would take them in to his office and talk to them. That's a clear violation: you don't have any secret meetings or anything like that. It could be intimidating for a voter to be pulled away to a private room to have a discussion about whether or not they should vote." Brown said it was up to him to determine who was elligible to vote. Richardson, the newly elected secretary, says the national office told her Brown wasn't a member in good standing at that time. The national office hasn't returned our calls to confirm this.

Many members were very critical of the leadership. They asked where the NAACP had been on issues affecting the African American community, like disproportionate unemployment rates, the City's third world infant mortality rate, a lack of environmental justice, enforcement of the Collaberative Agreement and a lack of inclusion in major publicly funded projects like the Banks. The scene was tense and Thrower shot back, "What have you all done?" Thrower complained that many people hadn't been attending the meetings and therefore weren't aware of the things they'd been doing.

Allen Harris, Chair of the Education and Environmental Committee and a member of Thrower's Executive Committee, had a very heated exchange after his report with an older member who was complaining about a lack of action, and the two came close enough to blows that Harris had to be restrained. Thower failed to intervene and was clearly not in control of the situation.

As a proud new member of the NAACP, what's troubling is the lack of transparency and leadership from the local, state and national offices. The failure of the national office to address this matter in a timely manner was partially to blame and the State Representatives failed to execute a transparent and fair election.

After yesterday's news of convictions over illegalities in the 2004 Ohio recount, I'm reminded of the unprecedented disenfranchisement of African American voters and the speech Jesse Jackson gave during the battle for the recount that was launched by the Green and Libertarian parties. Jackson said when we're surrounded by darkness "a little light will do ya, we are that little light." Dr. King said "leadership is tested by how they act, vote or behave in times of adversity." The local membership continues to speak and it's time for the National Office to listen. Anytime our "leaders" are afraid of transparency and try to silence the voice of the majority, citizens should shine a light.

It is our hope at the Beacon that we can all "disagree without being disagreeable." It's time to demand transparency and for new leadership to take control.

"Power concedes nothing without a demand." -Fredrick Douglas
stated previously:


why don't you form a committee that develops measurements aligned with the type of accountability you see lacking with these black elected officials or leaders in general, including black organizations......then using your own methodology perform an assessment of these various areas and provide a recommendation package for areas of change. If claim are factual and convincing, you or no other blkCON will have a problem selling that contrarian philosophy you all preach.. so since you are so skilled at recognizing what ails the black community, take a lead and sell it to the masses....don't just bitch and moan
you or no other blkCON will have a problem selling that contrarian philosophy you all preach

My friend Kevin41:

I am not selling a "contrarian" philosophy in any way, shape or from any more than you can say that a MAP provides a "CONTRARIAN set of information from where YOU want to head to get to a particular location".

Funny how you would never say, for example - that MBM has SOME perspectives that are CONTRARY to BLACK PEOPLE EVER ACHIEVING A COMPREHENSIVE MEASURE OF "PROGRESSION".

(If you were HONEST you would read the list that Nathaniel posted and measure what MBM wrote to me yesterday morning and see HIS INCONGRUENCE to this list).

The worst thing that you can ever do Kevin41 is to assume that your POPULAR position is some sort of DEFINITIVE PERSPECTIVE for Black people. In truth SOME OF THESE CONCEPTS are part and parcel of a people who are in an INFERIOR POSITION within a system greatly due to what they have been through historically THAT THESE SAME PEOPLE WOULD NOT HOLD IF THEY DID NOT THINK OF THEMSELVES AS BEING IN AN HOPELESS SITUATION. (Example - while the Black Progressives in South Fulton fret the day in which the White Republican majority North Fulton might split from their county leaving them all alone......the majority Black, solidly middle class section of Henry County to the south known as Fairview are TOO seeking to incorporate into a city so that THEIR TAX MONEY PAID CAN STAY CLOSER TO HOME. They have been promised a new library for years only to have THEIR MONEY taken away and spent on other parts of the county. They too are operating with respect to their own interests).

YOU have a popular message Kevin41 ONLY in the context of Black people who are in an unfavorable position within the system. Many of your perspectives are 100% the opposite for people who are actually seeking to build up INTERNAL STRENGTH. They are more inline with people who see their RIGHTS to receive benefit redistributed to them from another person's wallet due to their citizenship.
so what do you attribute the kool response blackCONS get from the black majority when they preach the same hannity talking points? It is contrary to what the black majority believes and consistent with what right-wing white males believe. I guess from your signature we're just stuck in some baCKWARDS AZZ ways and too damn inept to see the say my message is for those who see themselves as inferior....well why has it worked so well for me?..acknowledging reality is not basking in is the basis for making plans and strategies with high probabilities of success....because all of the intangibles have been addressed and prepared for during the strategy formulation sound as if you are talking to someone who has never planned and strategized with much success.....that is he greatest thing about being in a position to influence many...especially when the advise given results in psotive changes in the lives of once again CF.....

***why don't you form a committee that develops measurements aligned with the type of accountability you see lacking with these black elected officials or leaders in general, including black organizations......then using your own methodology perform an assessment of these various areas and provide a recommendation package for areas of change. If your claims are factual and convincing, you or no other blkCON will have a problem selling that contrarian philosophy you all preach.. so since you are so skilled at recognizing what ails the black community ONLY as if it is exclusive to black people, take a lead and sell it to the masses....instead of just bitching and moaning.......

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