BLACK VOICES

NAACP Ousts President As Organization Heads Vigorously In New Direction

The organization is reimagining what it wants its future to look like and how to achieve it.
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of C
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder speaks at the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in Orlando July 16, 2013.

The NAACP, one of the country’s longstanding racial justice and civil rights organizations, pledged to execute a vigorous “transformational, system-wide refresh” to help better position them to confront today’s urgent fight against injustice. 

The organization announced the new plan on May 19, which includes a move by its national board of directors to dismiss Cornell Brooks from the position of president, which he held for only three years. Brooks will officially be replaced at the end of June, when his contract with the group expires.

While the organization searches for new leadership, the NAACP will be led by Board Chairman Leon W. Russell and Vice Chair Derrick Johnson, both of whom were elected into their positions in February. 

Brooks, who recently staged a sit-in protest against the appointment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, told the New York Times that he was “somewhat mystified and disappointed” by the decision, citing his love for the work and activism he exemplified during his time as president. 

“Relevance is about authenticity and impact, and we tried to do that. So it’s been a tough ride,” Brooks told the NYT

Brooks’ removal signals one of the first steps in the NAACP board’s mission to identify and cultivate new leadership. They said their hopes are for a new group president to establish a more effective agenda for the organization to combat the pressing issues affecting people of color like voting rights, health care and education reform. This has been a concern for the organization in recent years as forceful social movements like Black Lives Matter have grown and given rise to youth activism, which is something the NAACP board said it hopes to better embrace. 

This has been a concern for the organization in recent years as forceful social movements like Black Lives Matter have grown and given rise to youth activism, which is something the NAACP board said it hopes to better embrace. 

“These changing times require us to be vigilant and agile, but we have never been more committed or ready for the challenges ahead,” Russell said in a statement sent to HuffPost. 

In an effort to improve the ways the organization can better protect communities of color, the NAACP board will embark on their first listening tour in the coming months. The organization’s board members and internal leaders will travel the country to engage with black Americans to help better understand their concerns and uncover solutions to address them. 

“The NAACP will embark upon a historic national listening tour to ensure that we harness the energy and voices of our grassroots members, to help us achieve transformational change, and create an internal culture designed to push the needle forward on civil rights and social justice,” Johnson said. 

In moving forward, the organization says it aims to build stronger connections with a broad swath of advocates and allies, including local organizers, faith leaders, women’s rights advocates and LGBTQ Americans, in order to stand united and speak out against hate.  

“We know that our hundreds of thousands of members and supporters expect a strong and resilient NAACP moving forward, as our organization has been in the past,” Russell said, “and it remains our mission to ensure the advancement of communities of color in this country.”   

HuffPost

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