American Morning

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July 10th, 2009
07:21 AM ET

The NAACP at 100: Much more work to do

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Closing gaps in access to education is one of the goals the NAACP will continue to pursue in its next 100 years."]

By Benjamin Todd Jealous
Special to CNN

Editor's note: Benjamin Todd Jealous is president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which holds its 100th annual convention in New York from July 11-16.

(CNN) - As the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People prepares to celebrate its Centennial in New York, the city of its birth, I'm confident that we as a nation have turned an important corner on the long road toward racial and economic equality for all Americans.

Established in 1909 by a core group of black and white Americans, the NAACP's mission has been clarified and sharpened during our first 100 years. We have covered a lot of ground in the march to improve the lives of millions of Americans, but there remains much more work to be done.

The NAACP's legacy of accomplishment is rich, and cannot be dismissed or subjected to gainsaying in the wake of the election of President Obama.

Yes, we are energized and emboldened by the historic election of America's first black president. We were not surprised that Americans, at long last, voted to choose high-quality ideas, soaring spirit and bright vision over the racial, cultural and class distinctions that have so long divided us. The multi-ethnic coalition that coalesced around Obama is familiar to us, indeed.

Our members always have included whites, Asians, Latinos and Native Americans. Right now, our 1,200 branches span the breadth of this continent, and our members include white folks in southern Maine, Native Americans in Alabama, Americans of East Asian descent in the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, and of course, black Americans throughout the country with ancestral links to the Caribbean, Central America, South America and Africa.

We are a civil and human rights organization, by our founders' design. In our next century, our efforts will make the second part of that equation more evident.

Now, insistent questions have arisen about the relevancy of our mission: Haven't we entered a "post-racial" era in America, with the election of President Obama?

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soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Bernice

    I agree with you, Warren! Could you imagine if we had an all white college?? ...or .. Called Elvis of "OUR" own, ??? It really should not matter what color that you are!! It is having programs out there like the NAACP that is the problem! The minority anymore is the white man, so it is high time that we have an organization to now help fight for our rights and losses of. That would be an organization that would be very helpful?? It could have helped with New Haven!! That is racism!! Racism is what is now being done to the white man! He is now the last in line to get that good job!!

    July 13, 2009 at 7:40 am |
  2. LIN

    NAACP – National Association for the Advancement of Colored People? How is it that an organization can be named this when Black America finds it insulting if referenced as 'colored people'? This baffles me!

    Oh, I am American Indian so if anyone answers this, please do not think this is a racist comment. It is quite confusing to me so I thought someone out there could tell me why this term is acceptable for an organization but not acceptable as a reference to the same people?

    July 11, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  3. Greg & Matt in Houston

    Being a young gay couple with kids we are completely about diversity and equality for everyone. Unfortunately it appears that CNN is only about diversity and equality for black people. The entire month of June went by and we didn't see ANY coverage of the Gay Pride celebrations across the nation....and we watched.....and watched.....and watched. Believe me we watched, I'm unemployed and watch CNN a lot during the day when not begging for a job so we don't lose our home.

    What we did see however were endless commercials for Soledad Obriens "Black in America 2". She really sees a need for it, we get the message. I'm sure every person in the U.S. who watches CNN is on "Black in America 2" overload at this point....and it hasn't even aired yet. It has become painfully obvious at this point that the only community CNN is interested in is the black community. While Atlanta may have a black super-majority, the rest of the nation is more balanced ethnically and we certainly do not appear to be of concern to CNN.

    Where is "Asian in America"? Where is "Gay in America"? Where is "Elderly in America"? Where is...well you get the picture. I doubt you will get the message though. I seriously doubt whether this post will make it onto the commentary.

    So what we would like to know is when the big change and announcement is coming? When are we going to wake up to "This is BNN"?

    July 11, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  4. michael armstrong sr.

    discrimination started declining along time before president Obama took office but people need to realize that diferent races have diferent ways of exspresing themselves this can be seen in church choirs for instance put a white church choir in a black church and a black choir in a white church the suroundings would be discontent the joining of two diferent races in social events is a total diferent envoiroment then a work place because the agenda is cordinated with muthual feelings my point is that its going to take time to join two totaly diferent soals .

    July 10, 2009 at 8:45 am |
  5. Warren Beglin

    I understand the outcry over the situation with the black kids trying to go to the swim club in Pennsylvania and think that it's wrong. But, if the black community, NAACP and others truly want to help the overall situation then they should stop stoking the division by allowing things such as Indiana's "Black Expo" to continue! Is it any wonder that whites don't want to listen to the black outcry about descrimination when the black community turns right around and holds such a racist festival? Fair is fair. We're all supposed to be Americans here, not white Americans or African Americans, just Americans!

    July 10, 2009 at 8:01 am |
  6. nigel

    i think that when the president comes back from his trip he should go for a swim and you know where he should go,WHAT A STATEMENT THAT WOULD MAKE .


    July 10, 2009 at 7:45 am |