NAACP President Benjamin Jealous is stepping down at the end of the year.
Jealous said he is resigning to spend more time with his family and to pursue other interests.
“Beginning next year, I look forward to pursuing opportunities in academia to train the next generation of leaders and, of course, spending a lot more time with my young family,” said Jealous.
Jealous said he also wants to start a political action committee focused on promoting Black and Latino candidates, along with progressives of all races.
This is a worthy goal.
While the United States has an African-American president, there is currently only one African-American United States senator, Republican conservative Tim Scott of South Carolina and one governor, Democrat Deval Patrick of Massachusetts.
We hope that Jealous has as much success in promoting Black and Latino candidates as he did helping the NAACP.
When Jealous took over the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights organization many were concerned that he was too young and inexperienced. Jealous was the group’s youngest leader when he was hired as its president at age 35 in 2008.
The young leader had several major challenges before him.
In the year before Jealous arrived, the NAACP cut its national staff by a third because of what a spokesman described at the time as several years of falling fundraising revenues. Also that year, former
NAACP President Bruce Gordon abruptly resigned after clashes with the group’s 64-member board.
But Jealous proved himself an able leader.
Jealous has boosted the finances and increased the stability of the NAACP.
Donations increased from $23 million in 2007—the year before he was hired—to $46 million in 2012. The group also said its donors increased from 16,000 people giving each year to more than 132,000 under his leadership.
In addition to improved finances, under Jealous the NAACP has been on the forefront of the major issues that affect African-Americans from fighting to for the restoration of Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, fighting against Stand Your Ground laws, bolstering civic engagement efforts and ensuring African-Americans are enrolled in the Affordable Care Act exchanges.
Jealous did make some missteps.
The New York Times correctly pointed out “Mr. Jealous’s tenure was not without controversy. He condemned the Tea Party movement, saying it contained “racist elements.” And he criticized an Agriculture Department official, Shirley Sherrod, who had become a pariah of conservatives when a misleadingly edited video made it appear as though she sanctioned bias against white farmers. He later apologized for rushing to judgment.”
Like too many civil rights leaders today Jealous was also too closely aligned with the Democratic Party. Civil rights leaders should be more politically independent so they can hold both Democrat and Republican elected officials accountable.
But as the Rev. Joseph Lowery, a civil rights leader and former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said Jealous brought an intellectual quality and a level of integrity that won respect.
Jealous also brought a greater level of energy and modernization to the vulnerable organization.
The NAACP’s board is forming a search committee to find the next president and CEO for the civil rights organization. Jealous has left the organization in good shape.
(Reprinted from the Philadelphia Tribune)
Follow @NewPghCourier on Twitter https://twitter.com/NewPghCourier
Like us at https://www.facebook.com/pages/New-Pittsburgh-Courier/143866755628836?ref=hl
Download our mobile app at http://www.appshopper.com/news/new-pittsburgh-courier