From Thu Aug 2 19:13:59 2001
Date: Wed, 1 Aug 2001 22:50:25 -0500 (CDT)
From: Michael Eisenscher <>
Subject: Julian Bond’s Speech to NAACP Convention
Article: 123749
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

92nd Annual NAACP Convention Address

By Julian Bond, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, 8 July 2001

[Publisher’s note: The speech was broken in half for distribution to the list, but is here reassembled.]

Vice-Chair Roslyn Brock, Members of the Board of Directors, Trustees of the Special Contribution Fund, CEO Kweisi Mfume, members, and friends; it is a pleasure to greet you all, speaking truth to power.

Our theme for our 92 nd Convention is an old Quaker maxim. It means at all times following your highest sense of right, whatever the consequences, however lonely the path and however loud the jeers. It is holding on to the power of truth when everyone around you is accepting compromises.(i

It expresses our approach to the cause of justice for nine decades and to the 2000 election and its aftermath; and it characterizes how we intend to conduct ourselves into the future.

We didnt choose as a theme Lets Get Over It! We didnt choose Please and Appease! And we didnt choose Cave in and Compromise!

We chose Speaking Truth to Power! Like the Quakers, we have a tradition of resisting unjust authority, of confronting and conquering social evil. In this, the Quakers were influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, as was one of our founders, W. E. B. DuBois. In 1929, the Crisis featured a front-page message from Gandhi with a notation from DuBois that agitation, nonviolence, and a refusal to cooperate [were] leading all India to freedom.

This is a prescription we ought to follow today: agitation, nonviolence, and a refusal to cooperate. Speaking truth to power.

President Harry Truman once said, I never gave them hell. I just tell the truth, and they think it is hell. Maybe that is why we tell the truth, and when we do, they claim it is divisive, that were playing the race card.

The phrase playing the race card is like the phrase politically correct; intended to mean one thing, in actual usage each has come to mean something very different.

Politically correct began as an ironic, self-mocking and self-deprecating comment among liberals. It made fun of those who took special steps not to offend by substituting often-clumsy euphemisms for descriptions now regarded as demeaning or offensive.

Playing the race card gained widest usage in the aftermath of the O. J. Simpson trial. Simpsons lawyer Johnnie Cochran played the race card, we are supposed to believe, by improperly appealing to black jurors misplaced racial loyalty to his black client.

Today the phrase has broader application. Now in some quarters, at least it covers any mention of race, and by the new standard, it is always inappropriate. In this formulation, any discussion of race in any context is wrong. But we believe ignoring race what Bill Clinton calls the oldest demon in human society is always wrong.

To ignore race is to ignore our present and deny our history.

We meet in Louisiana, a state where black people have a long history of protest and rebellion. Here in New Orleans, enslaved people protested their status as victims of this crime against humanity in 1804. There were at least eight slave revolts across the state over the next 50 years. After the Civil War ended slavery, an 1888 statement issued at a New Orleans mass meeting read:

A single volume would scarcely afford sufficient space to enumerate the outrages our people have suffered, and are daily suffering at the hands of our oppressors. They are flagrantly deprived of every right guaranteed them by the Constitution; in many parts of the state they are free only in name. they cannot assemble in place they do not feel safe and are permitted to enjoy but very few public conveniences.

We are assembled in place. And we know our place it is as the biggest, baddest civil rights organization in the country!

The leading historian of the civil rights movement in this state, Adam Fairclough, has written, The NAACP emerged during the early 1940s as the spearhead of the civil rights struggle in Louisiana.(ii

Our host Branch here in New Orleans was organized in the fall of 1915. Early on, the Branch protested against the movie The Birth of a Nation and against an order given by the Chief of Police to shoot down armed blacks.

They protested segregation of black people in a downtown public square. They protested against the use of black women prisoners as laborers on the public streets.

In 1927, the Branch succeeded in getting the United States Supreme Court to strike down a city ordinance establishing segregated neighborhoods.

The history of the New Orleans Branch, and indeed the history of the Association statewide, is personified in the life and career of Attorney A. P. Tureaud, for a time the only black lawyer in the state. He joined the NAACP in 1922 and fought against racial discrimination for 50 years. His name was on virtually every NAACP lawsuit filed during those five decades lawsuits which won voting rights, integrated schools, universities, busses, parks and public buildings, and equalized the salaries of black teachers. Tureaud argued the first sit-in case to reach the Supreme Court.

His life spanned the rise and fall of white supremacy in post-Reconstruction Louisiana. Born in 1899, he died in 1972, the year Louisiana finally expunged all of its Jim Crow laws.

Ernest Morial, Tureauds protigi and law partner, and the man for whom this convention center is named, became the first black mayor of this great city. And of course his son, Marc Morial, welcomes us to his city as the current mayor. You cannot talk about the New Orleans Branch without acknowledging Arthur J. Chapital. You cannot talk about the Louisiana State Conference without remembering Doretha Cambre and Emmett Douglas, and you cannot talk about the NAACP today without saluting Louisianas own Rupert Richardson, former President and current Board member.

As historian Fairclough has observed, The bedrock strength of the NAACP lay in its local Branches.(iii

Speaking truth to power by definition invites attacks from the powerful. After the NAACPs success in Brown v. Board of Education, the Louisiana White Citizens Councils went on the attack. They vowed to make Louisiana a shining example to the nation on how to thwart the NAACP.(iv

The Citizens Councils membership far outstripped that of the NAACP. They included among their leaders the former President of both the Orleans Parish Medical Society and the Louisiana Medical Association, a member of the Orleans Parish School Board, and an attorney whose father was a federal judge.

In 1956, the Citizens Councils obtained an injunction prohibiting the NAACP from doing any business or acting as a corporation in Louisiana.

But the injunction could not stop Louisianas blacks from supporting the National NAACP, and they began sending money to New York almost immediately. One hundred dollars was collected by the State Association of Negro Dentists; $250 from Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

Here in New Orleans, the United Clubs, made up of Mardi Gras clubs and a musicians union, organized a blackout of the 1957 Mardi Gras season. Their slogan:

It is immoral for Negroes in New Orleans to dance while Negroes in Montgomery walk! They collected $60,000 for the National NAACP, which Dr. Albert Dent, President of Dillard University, personally delivered to New York.

In order not to violate the injunction, the New Orleans Branch closed its office and deposited its files for safekeeping at A. P. Tureauds law firm. Clarence Laws, the Louisiana Field Secretary, was transferred out of state.

Branch officers resigned rather than lift the injunction by turning over their membership lists. One letter from C. W. Anderson in Jefferson Davis Parish read: As of today, Im sending my resignation as President of this Branch. About to go underground. Hoping to come up someday fighting on the forefront.

He did. We did. And we kept speaking truth to power.

By the 1960s, the Associations relationship with the state had changed drastically. In 1969, police in Leesville arrested 18 members of the State Conference who were demonstrating against discrimination suffered by black servicemen stationed at Fort Polk. Governor John McKeithen intervened on their behalf, telling Leesvilles mayor, You do what I say or Ill move that damn city to Texas!(v

By 1991, when white supremacist David Duke ran for Governor, he was beaten soundly in every part of the state, including Claiborne where the Citizens Councils were born.

The NAACP was not thwarted then, and it is stronger now than ever. Our revenues and membership are up, weve charted a record number of youth units nationwide, and we are the largest, best known and most respected civil rights organization in the United States.(vi

But despite the death of Jim Crow and the successes of the NAACP, race remains the central fact of life for every non-white American. It eclipses income, position, gender, education race trumps them all.

The recent evidence is everywhere and overwhelming:

And last year in the year 2000 40 percent of Alabama voters, more than half-a-million people, voted to keep the law prohibiting interracial marriage. This year 2001 Mississippians voted by a margin of 2 to 1 to keep the Confederate swastika as their states flag. More than half the respondents in a new nationwide survey blamed the victims of discrimination for creating their own problems, agreeing with the statement, Until racial minorities shape up and realize that they cant get a free ride, there will be little improvement in race relations in America.(x Even as the nation becomes more racially and ethnically diverse than at any time in its history, white Americans still choose to live largely segregated lives. The 2000 Census shows that the average white city- or suburb-dweller lives in a neighborhood that is 80 percent white and only seven percent black. Blacks, Hispanics and Asians all live in more integrated neighborhoods than whites do.

Most American whites have little contact with racial minorities. More than one-half of all minorities live in just five states: California, Texas, New York, Florida and Illinois. Fifty-five percent of all blacks live in the South. Sixty-one percent of all Hispanics live in five Southwestern states. Among Asians and Pacific Islanders, half live in the West. Almost half of all Indians, Aleuts and Eskimos live there too.

Election 2000 confirmed our deep national divisions. Not only did Al Gore win 90 percent of the black vote and George W. Bush a majority of white votes, whites made up 95 percent of Bushs total vote.

Even though 57 percent of voters with incomes under $15,000 voted for Al Gore, race beat income at the ballot box poor whites cast a majority of their votes for George W. Bush.

Similarly, 54 percent of all women voted for Gore, but white women slightly favored Bush. In politics, as in life, race trumps class and race trumps gender. The election exposed a cultural divide too. Gore won every major city and almost all suburbs, while Bush took every small town on a straight line from Redding, California to Springfield, Illinois giving a brand new meaning to the old Woodie Guthrie song, This Land Is Your Land, This Land is My Land.

The only demographic groups that cast unified votes were blacks, Latinos, Jews, union members, residents of large cities all of whom voted 60 percent or more for Gore and white men, who voted 60 percent for Bush.

Some people saw last years black voters as mindless black sheep led down a one-party path. Blacks were presumed not to have voted as did other Americans in ordinary self-interest but rather at the behest of black leaders and groups with a vested interest in maintaining the racial divide.

You never hear similar arguments made about the 60 percent of white males nationwide and the 70 percent of Southern white males who voted as a racial bloc for Bush. Instead, they are presumed to have cast intelligent ballots after careful study of economic indicators and nuclear proliferation. And the leaders and groups they listen to are not presumed to have a vested interest in promoting white male supremacy.

The leaders whom black Americans listen to and respect are women and men who have earned their trust. Theres a lot of competition for leadership in black America and that is healthy, but that competition must be internally waged. Leadership cannot be externally imposed. It cant be bought with a dollar in the collection plate, or a government check in the church treasury.

A cursory review of the Bush Administrations first months ought to convince anyone that black people voted in their self-interest.

He has selected nominees from the Taliban wing of American politics, appeased the wretched appetites of the extreme right wing, and chosen Cabinet officials whose devotion to the Confederacy is nearly canine in its uncritical affection.

The President who promised to unite, not divide, chose as Secretary of the Interior a woman who opposed racially equitable scholarships and regarded slavery as a set of bad facts that carried too great a loss for states rights. She refused to defend her states support of a business fairness program. She and the new Attorney General have opposed legally sanctioned remedies for racial discrimination.

The President who promised to unite, not divide, selected as the nations top law enforcement officer a man who doesnt believe in many of the civil rights laws he has sworn to enforce affirmative action, racial profiling, hate crimes, voting rights notwithstanding his confirmation conversion when he repudiated everything he believed in yesterday and promised to support the very laws he had fought so hard to destroy.

At his confirmation hearing, then Attorney General-designate John Ashcroft stated that evidence of racial disparities in the application of the death penalty troubles me deeply, and proclaimed, Nor shall race play any role in determining whether someone is subject to capital punishment.

Now General Ashcroft claims that, with respect to the federal death sentence, there is no evidence of favoritism toward white defendants in comparison with minority defendants, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Even conservative Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day OConnor said last week there are serious questions about whether the death penalty is being administered fairly. She noted that six more death row inmates were exonerated last year, bringing the total to 90 who have been cleared and set free since 1973.

The new Administration wants to downsize government. What they really need to downsize is their extreme agenda and stop governing as if they won a mandate. They didnt even win a majority, partly thanks to the NAACP.

As always, we were not partisan, but we were participants in a big way in Election 2000.

The combined efforts of the NAACP and the NAACP National Voter Fund in our unprecedented voter registration and education drive were an unparalleled success. Two million more black voters cast ballots in 2000 than in 1996.

The African-American share of the total vote increased 25 percent or more in four states. Turnout in Texas increased 50 percent, in Florida 60 percent, and in Missouri, a whopping 124 percent!

In the Sunshine State, which cast a long shadow over Election 2000, more than a million African-Americans voted, accounting for more than 15 percent of the total vote, a state record.

But we know that the black share of the vote—in Florida and elsewhere—should have been higher. And we know the consequences could not have been greater. Witness after witness told the sorry story of voter suppression and nullification in Florida at NAACP hearings after the election. They described police stops near polling places, racially motivated voter purges, demands for multiple forms of identification from persons who had voted for decades, long-time voters names missing from the rolls, and other examples of black votes prevented from being counted. The US Commission on Civil Rights has found that African-American voters in Florida were nearly ten times more likely than white voters to have their ballots rejected. These tactics werent restricted to Florida. Nationally, more than 2 million presidential votes went uncounted, and more ballots were discarded in Illinois than in Florida. And these tactics werent restricted to black precincts. Other minority voters in Florida and elsewhere suffered as well.

Our offices were flooded with calls and complaints from across the country from New York, Virginia, Texas, South Carolina, New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio state after state where impermissible barriers kept away people who only wanted to be good citizens.

Your NAACP filed a lawsuit in Florida against Secretary of State Katherine Harris and others; it seeks to insure that these outrageous events never, ever happen again. We are committed to guaranteeing that every voter across the country has equal access to the polls and that every vote is honestly and fairly counted.

We heard before the election, Your vote counts!

We learned after the election that your vote might not be counted. This is unacceptable. This is un-American.

Were not going to get over it until real election reform gets over, until we have guarantees that every vote will count.

All election reform efforts must include:

At this convention, were unveiling the format for a nationwide election reform report card. It will help you hold accountability sessions with your Governor, legislators and other election officials to find out what they have done to guarantee every vote is counted in the future. And in the fall, were going to issue a report card on their progress well see who gets As and who gets Fs.

Science tells us race is a socio-political, not a biological, construct; there are more genetic differences within races than among them. But if race has no biological significance, it isnt just a pigment of our imagination. Election 2000 is but the latest evidence. Race colors every life, and racism has consequences that can be deadly in the lives of many.

Members of the minority share a history of disadvantage, and it is ridiculous for anyone to claim that disadvantage has somehow magically disappeared. It is a history of difference not just of skin color and hair texture, but a long history of different treatment that produces different and disturbing outcomes.

These different outcomes set the minority apart from the majority. Even when some of these differences like skin color are meaningless, for many of our fellow citizens in the majority they serve as badges of inferiority.

For members of the minority, life expectancy will be lower, mortality rate higher, risk of HIV/AIDS greater, death by homicide and heart disease more likely. More than half of all new HIV infections occur among blacks, who are ten times more likely to contract AIDS and ten times more likely to die from it. Women and minorities are more likely than white males to have their legs amputated from complications of diabetes, less likely to get adequate treatment for pain, and routinely forced to wait longer for organ transplants.

And a new study has just found that if you are black, the mere presence of your dark face can lead non-blacks to misperceive an object in your hands as a weapon.(xi If you are black and between the ages of 16 and 19, your unemployment rate is more than 30%. Unemployment rates for blacks are rising now at twice the rate for whites.

And if you are a child of color, you are far more likely than a white child to have no heath care coverage. One out of six black children and one out of four Hispanic children have no coverage compared to one out of 11 children who are white.

There is not a single person in this country who is not implicated in the continuation of this gross inequality, just as all of us would benefit if these disparities came to an end. Discrimination against black Americans alone is estimated to bleed about $240 billion each year from the economy in lost productivity.(xii If blacks and Hispanics attended college at the same rate as whites, the national economy would grow by about $230 billion each year.(xiii

If we face the completion of an old mission, we face an old challenge as well, one we have never even come close to meeting.

How do we engage the American majority more fully and in a more sustained way in the struggle for fairness and justice? How do we persuade those unconcerned and uninvolved millions that our work is important work, that we cannot succeed without them, and that our success will benefit them as it benefits us?

It has always been a serious mistake both tactical and moral to believe this is a fight that must or should be waged by minority Americans alone. That has never been so in centuries past; it is even less so in the century unfolding now.

Wherever there are others who share our conditions or concerns, we must make common cause with them. In the NAACP, we have always believed that colored people come in all colors anyone who shares our values is more than welcome. The growth in immigration and the emergence of new and vibrant populations of color holds great promise and great peril. The promise is that the coalition for justice will grow larger and stronger, as new allies join the fight.

The peril is that common enemies will find ways to separate and divide us. It doesnt make sense for blacks and Hispanics to argue over which group has less power; together we can constitute a mighty force for right.

The successful strategies of our movement have always been litigation, organization, mobilization and coalition, all aimed at creating a national political constituency for civil rights. Todays times require no less, and in fact insist on more. As we find ourselves re-fighting old battles we thought already won and facing challenges we have barely begun to acknowledge, we ought to take heart. If there remains more to be done, we have more to do it with, much more than those who came before us and who brought us along this far.

We have a long and honorable tradition of social justice; if yesterdays protests have faded from the headlines, they have not faded from our collective conscience. They still teach us that when we act together we can overcome.

The very fact that America tolerates far less discrimination today than in years past is testament to our power and a lesson for our future. We succeeded against great odds in the past; we can do it again today.

Your revitalized NAACP 92 years strong is prepared for the challenges that lie ahead.

One important matter well consider at this Convention is our Strategic Plan.

There are copies in your delegate kits and in the current Crisis magazine. It is the product of three years of hard work by a series of Task Forces, guided and overseen by Board member Leon Russell, and involving the Board, representatives of Regional Conferences, and local Branches and staff. In April of this year, it was completed and endorsed unanimously by your Board of Directors.

It is a bold step forward for the NAACP. It sets out goals and timetables for action and envisions reallocations of resources to make your NAACP even stronger, even bigger, even better, and even more effective.

Its goals are challenging building membership, expanding training, rebuilding our legal staff and capacity, increasing and intensifying our advocacy, sharpening our focus on civil rights enforcement and discrimination in the criminal justice system, increasing economic opportunity, guaranteeing educational equity and excellence, taking on a wide variety of health issues, making sure every voter is registered and every vote is counted.

It will be discussed on Tuesday in Regional meetings; in Wednesdays plenary session you will be asked to embrace it.

These goals are not new for the NAACP; many are as old as the NAACP itself. The Strategic Plan will help us do the old things better, smarter, and on time.

One thing we have done for more than 90 years is deal with a parade of Presidents of the United States. Whether they belonged to one party or another, we took them as they came.

When we were founded, Theodore Roosevelt was ending his second term. He was like many of todays Negrophobes he liked individual black people but thought the majority was less than human, and he embraced a genetic hierarchy with whites on top and blacks at bottom.(xiv

His successor, William Howard Taft, said his little brown brothers thats us would need fifty to one hundred years to become equal with whites. Woodrow Wilson followed Taft and institutionalized segregation in the federal bureaucracy. The NAACPs James Weldon Johnson said of Wilson, My distrust and dislike came nearer to constituting keen hatred for an individual than anything I have ever felt.

Warren Harding followed Wilson. Harding joked with James Weldon Johnson about the rumor the President had African-American blood where have we heard that before? But whatever kind of blood he had, Harding didnt have the heart to right the wrongs that afflicted black people.

Despite complaints from our Washington Branch, segregation in the federal bureaucracy spread during Calvin Coolidges Presidency.

NAACP Executive Secretary Walter White was prescient in the Coolidge years when he said the Republicans will absorb the anti-Negro south and become the relatively anti-Negro party, while the Negro will find refuge in the Democratic Party. White said the next President, Herbert Hoover, showed nothing to indicate he regarded Negroes as human beings.

Franklin Roosevelt served almost four terms. By the time he died in 1945 his economic policies and the good reputation of his wife Eleanor had helped hasten black conversion to the Democratic Party. But despite his Interior Secretary having served as President of the Chicago NAACP and his Attorney General having served on the NAACP Board, Roosevelt thought the NAACP was a nuisance and would not join us in supporting an anti-lynching bill.

Within two hours of her husbands death, Mrs. Roosevelt had called Walter White to pledge her continuing dedication to civil rights. She later served on our Board. Harry Truman followed Roosevelt, and when an NAACP-sponsored delegation met with him to complain about a rash of racist murders, he responded with an Executive

Order establishing the Presidents Committee on Civil Rights. Truman was the first President to speak to an NAACP meeting.

Over Trumans objections, the NAACP went to the United Nations in 1947 with a petition of grievances; incidentally, we went back to the UN with similar complaints in the last year of the Clinton Administration.

The next President, Dwight Eisenhower, told nigger jokes in the White House. But he made some black appointments, and his reward was 60% of the black vote in 1956, temporarily reversing the black shift to the Democrats that Franklin Roosevelt had begun.

Under the prodding of NAACP heroine Daisy Bates, Eisenhower reluctantly sent Federal troops to protect black school children in Little Rock, and he signed the 1957 Civil Rights Act, the first such legislation to pass Congress since Reconstruction. John F. Kennedy regained a black majority for the Democrats when he promised to eliminate segregation with the stroke of a pen and made a famous telephone call ignored by the mainstream press to the wife of jailed Martin Luther King, Jr. Brought to office by an assassins bullet, Lyndon Johnson pursued civil rights as had no President before him and no President since. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are part of his legacy.

Richard Nixon developed a Southern strategy, designed to leach white voters away from the Democrats. The race issue, Nixon assistant Pat Buchanan told the President, would be the dividing line which would destroy the Roosevelt coalition. Gerald Ford was next, coming into office with NAACP complaints he had opposed fair housing laws as a Congressman.

Jimmy Carter came to office propelled by black votes, despite having promised to preserve the ethnic purity of segregated neighborhoods. His judicial appointments should serve as a model for others.

Four years later Ronald Reagan defeated Carter, in part by reviving the Southern strategy and applying it nationwide. His Justice Department switched sides in the fight for civil rights. In Reagans rhetoric, civil rights for blacks became civil wrongs for whites.

Reagans Vice-President George Bush ran a campaign against Michael Dukakis one historian called so implicitly racist that it appeared suited to a prior century. Most notorious was his exploitation of Willie Horton, whose crimes while on furlough from a Massachusetts prison were first mentioned by Dukakis primary opponent Senator Al Gore. Bush campaign official Andrew Card, now George W. Bushs Chief of Staff, took the Horton story to the Bush campaign.

Bush attacked civil rights legislation as a quota bill. He put Clarence Thomas, whose nomination we opposed and whose rulings now occupy the far fringes of American jurisprudence, on the Supreme Court.

For the last eight years Bill Clinton was President, and his terms reflected both the unusual empathy he exhibited for black people and they for him and his inability or unwillingness to fight harder. But he put together the most racially diverse Administration in history.

Now another President, the 18th we have confronted in our history, is in office. Hes had his picture taken with more black people than voted for him, but remember, we have been down this road before.

As we have done with the seventeen before him, we intend to applaud him when he is right and to take him to task when he is wrong.

Ralph Nader was wrong last year when he said there was little difference between candidates Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush; Nader was right when he said a Bush victory would give progressives reason to mobilize, organize, and become more effective.

Under the first President Bush, an Assistant Secretary of Education declared that scholarships could not be reserved for black students only. Now the second President Bush has nominated a staunch opponent of fairness programs to head the Department of Educations Office of Civil Rights.

The only time they believe in affirmative action is when they find a black person who doesnt.

Weve been down this road before. The enormous, foolish tax cut recently passed with votes from both sides of the aisle didnt just pander to the privileged; it placed future funding for important programs in a lockbox, raiding the treasury for a decade, closing the door on government aid for children, for schools, for the poor.

This is government of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich. It will handcuff Congress in the future, defunding government assistance to the needy for years to come.

But the Administration plans to seek an increase of $33 billion in the military budget equal to the budgets of Commerce, Interior, Labor and the Environmental Protection Agency taken together, and more than the federal government spends on higher education and law enforcement combined.

Weve been down this road before.

What we need on Capitol Hill is more backbone and less backslapping; they asked for our votes last November; now we are asking for theirs.

To date, the single act of political courage in Congress came from an unassuming Senator from Vermont. His act would not have been possible without the high turnout of black voters in states with key Senate races. Those votes tied the Senate and allowed the shift of one Senator to break that tie.

That change meant that control of Committee Chairmanships went from Senators whose scores on the NAACPs Congressional Report Card average F to Senators whose scores average A.

It remains to be seen how well the Democrats will exercise their new power; whether they find a progressive voice and pursue a progressive vision, whether they put the peoples priorities ahead of corporate concerns, whether they stop attempts to minimize, privatize and voucherize government.

One test will come when they are presented with judicial nominees to any court who do not demonstrate a firm commitment to civil rights.

We believe if youre opposed to justice you dont deserve to be one, and we expect the full Senate to soundly reject any nominee who doesnt measure up. Another test will come in the area of so-called charitable choice. The Administrations faith-based plan threatens to erase sixty years of civil rights protections dating back to President Franklin Roosevelts Executive Order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating base on race, creed [religion], color or national origin.

Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Carter made its protections stronger; Congress further extended the ban on federally financed discrimination. Seven Presidents from both political parties had a common objective to keep taxpayers money from going to groups which discriminate.

There are many ways to strengthen religiously based organizations working in our communities without gutting important civil rights.

We will be watching both houses of Congress on both sides of the aisle see if they protect Social Security, support public education, expand health care and health coverage, end racial profiling, and much more.

In the civil rights movement we used to say, Well win them over or well wear them down. The choice is up to them. Well fight until hell freezes over and then well fight on the ice.

We have work to do. None of it is easy work. But we have truth and justice on our side.

We intend to keep speaking truth and doing justice. We believe if you tell the people the truth, the people will do the right thing.

As we begin the work of our Convention here in this great city on the Mississippi, we are reminded of Langston Hughes poem, The Negro Speaks of Rivers: Ive known rivers:

Ive known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.

I built my hut near the Congo, and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.

I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and Ive seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset. Ive known rivers:

Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

The NAACP has a deep soul. And we have a deep voice speaking truth to power!


i Pradervand, Pierre, The Gentle Art of Blessing (1999).

ii Fairclough, Adam, Race & Democracy: The Civil Rights Struggle in Louisiana, pg 73, University of Georgia Press (1995).

iii Id. at xv.

iv Id. at 207.

v Id. at 409.

vi A 1993 leadership student by Brakley, John Price Jones, Inc, showed that 75 percent of blacks believed the NAACP was the leader among groups with civil rights, social justice and race relations agendas. In this study, 75 percent of all respondents believed the NAACP adequately represented the black community. An October 1995 US News and World Report poll reported 90 percent of blacks supported the NAACP. In an April 1998 poll conducted by the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, 81 percent of blacks reported a favorable opinion of the NAACP. A December 2000 survey conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago reported the NAACP enjoyed an 84 percent favorability rating from black Americans. A March 2001 survey conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for a conservative black group, Black Americas Political Action Committee, found the NAACP is held in high regard by African-Americans. The NAACP is profoundly democratic. Nationally, only the NAACP (of black civil rights/political rights organizations) is governed by its individually based membership, in Class Notes by Adolph Reed, the New Press, New York. The NAACP is the organization that can still make the broadest claim to speak for black America, Tom Baxter, On Politics, Atlanta Constitution, July 16, 1998.

vii Study Finds Job Agency Race Bias, Los Angeles Times, (July 29, 1999).

viii Mortgage Study Finds a Rise in Racial Bias, the Washington Post (September 16, 1999).

ix Study Race Has a Powerful Role in US, Associated Press (October 1, 1999).

x Taking Americas Pulse II: NCCJs 2000 Survey of Intergroup Relations in the United States.

xi Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (scheduled for publication August 2001).

xii Andrew Brimmer (July 1, 2000).

xiii Educational Testing Service study (May 24, 2000).

xiv This and other material on Presidents from Nixons Piano.