My original article “The NAACP Doesn’t Care About Black People” is getting some response around the internets from other black bloggers. Needless to say, there’s quite a lot of agreement. I thought it might be of interest to you to check out what new black leaders online (and off) are saying about the NAACP.

I fixed y’all a nice plate…

Black Agenda Report

With the Freedom Movement over and the struggle against Jim Crow past, the NAACP’s national leadership lost its way in the eighties and nineties. A series of disastrous national leaders ending with Ben Chavis alienated the NAACP’s corporate funders while they lacked the personal integrity and vision to organize anything to take their place. They were duly ousted, and by the dawn of the twenty-first century, corporate America was very much in charge at the national NAACP in the persons of black corporate execs.

Throughout the last eighty years then, there have always been at least two NAACPs. There has always been a national apparatus, its officers, spokespeople and programs visibly dependent on the philanthropy of corporate America, and the good will of at least one out of two corporate parties. But the NAACP’s local chapters have always been largely free to imitate the national leadership, or to cultivate local memberships, develop independent local agendas in response to local conditions and opportunities, and the means to fund themselves independently.

So it is that in many of the NAACP’s local chapters and branches, the tradition of struggle, the legacy of Ida B. Wells-Barnett and W.E.B. DuBois survives and thrives to this day. These are the people, the NAACP members with something to celebrate. These are truly the people of struggle, and we at BAR are proud to struggle and to celebrate with them.

Jimi Izrael

The NAACP has done alot of good, but I’m not confident that they have a useful purpose going forward. As I said on CNN the other night, the NAACP has some challenges with focusing. They seem to want to tackle everything at once, which ends up with them not tacling anything thoroughly. They boycott N-words and rappers, but they also gave R. Kelly an image award — it’s hard to tell sometimes if they are working for people of color or against them. The NAACP fancies itself as some kind of arbitor of blackness, but black folks don’t have any real use for race games. Not at the prices the NAACP is charging.

Only 52% of all the money the NAACP raises goes towards programming – all the rest is spent on administrative overhead. God Bless Ben Jealous for trying to crystalize the NAACP’s mission, but it seems like it would be cheaper if we all thought for ourselves.

Has the NAACP done anything for YOU lately?

The Root’s Dayo Olopade

In all likelihood, Obama will heap praise and platitudes on the oldest civil rights organization in America. After all, the NAACP mobilized tens of thousands of black Americans to agitate for voting rights, desegregation and the free exercise of those rights over the course of a changing century. And surely no one believes that the Obama era has eliminated the need for advancement among communities of color. So why are some commentators questioning the organization’s relevance, even alleging that “the NAACP doesn’t care about black people”?

The answers we’ve all heard by now—it’s too old; it’s too broken; it’s still calling colored people “colored people,” for goodness sake! But the NAACP’s true failure may have more to do with its methods than its message, with its slow embrace of technology to do better what it has done well for so long.

In 2009, a rising tide of media tools and techniques has subsumed the sphere of social activism that was once dominated by the NAACP. Their march and protest model, so effective during the 1950s and 1960s, has been overshadowed by online calls to action that reach millions overnight. [...]

The Color of Change, an online social justice organization founded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, filled that racial organizing gap and has been challenging the NAACP for black grassroots primacy  ever since. “It was a response to a lack of political empowerment,” says James Rucker, president and co-founder of the nonprofit, who is also an alumnus of MoveOn. “Everyone looked at what was happening in horror, but as black Americans there was no vehicle that we could deploy to make sure the federal government did right by these people who looked like us.” That’s an oblique jab at the NAACP, which had, of course, set up its own Katrina Relief Fund; but in four years, Rucker’s group has accumulated 600,000 members—50 percent more than the NAACP and just shy of the NAACP’s peak membership of 625,000 in 1964.

Don Franco at FAMDO

As the NAACP celebrates its 100th anniversary this week, African Americans must ask: How relevant are civil rights organizations today?

Undoubtedly, civil rights organizations were instrumental in gaining major victories for blacks during the 20th century. From their nationwide protest of D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,” to their attention aimed at the lynching of African Americans, to their apex which included the passing of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in the mid 1960s, civil rights organizations should always be remembered for their amazing accomplishments. Supporters of these organizations willingly put their lives on the line in order to see equality manifest.

However, as African Americans today, the questions that must be raised are: What are the issues? and Would African Americans be better served by utilizing a different approach to the issues?

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