This article from Buzzfeed tells us a great deal about the state of Black leadership in America. At the very least, it warns us about the pitfalls of having important organizations that are quick to accept money from anyone who offers it. The scariest thing about the Donald Sterling incident is that if Sterling had not been silly enough to be caught on tape admitting that he was a racist, he would have a) Gotten his Lifetime Achievement Award, and b) be receiving this award right next to Rev. Al Sharpton, who likely wouldn’t have said a word about Sterling’s long track record of racism. In fact, he’d likely be willing to receive a donation from Sterling too.
This gives us a few things to think about. Money isn’t being used to liberate the Black community…it’s being used to further enslave us. Perhaps it’s time to wake up.
Amid the firestorm surrounding Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s racist comments, little attention has been focused on the Los Angeles chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, whose president, Leon Jenkins, is a defrocked judge who brought “dishonor” to the bench and has been banned from practicing law in two states.
The civil rights organization has given Sterling multiple laurels in recent years, including its Humanitarian Award in 2009 and its President’s award in 2008. Until a tape recording was released containing Sterling’s racist sentiments last week, the Los Angeles NAACP had been set to give him perhaps its most prestigious prize, the Lifetime Achievement award, at a ceremony on May 15.
Jenkins has refused to state how much money Sterling gave the group. Tax filings from Sterling’s own charity, the Donald T. Sterling Foundation, show he gave $5,000 to the chapter in 2010, when he served on an honorary committee for the civil rights group’s annual gala. A message left with Sterling’s business office in Beverly Hills requesting information on total donations to the NAACP’s Los Angeles chapter was not immediately returned.
A BuzzFeed review of the Los Angeles NAACP, one of 1,200 local units of the civil rights group nationwide, reveals a non-profit organization with little apparent public accountability and scant outside oversight. Basic tax records that are supposed to be filed and made public by all non-profits could not be found for the Los Angeles NAACP, making it impossible to know even basic information about the chapter’s finances. The organization is run by Jenkins, a former Michigan state judge who was defrocked for taking bribes from the bench and bringing “grave dishonor” upon the judiciary. Jenkins was also barred from practicing law in Michigan and California. Just this month, California rebuffed his appeal to return to practicing law.
Jenkins, 60 years old, did not return calls, emails, and text messages seeking comment for this story. A message left at the Los Angeles chapter’s number was not returned. Ron Hasson, president of the Beverly Hills/Hollywood chapter of the NAACP, referred questions about Jenkins to the organization’s national office, noting that an email had gone out to all chapters asking they not talk to the press on any questions related to Sterling. A spokesman for the NAACP in Washington, D.C., did not answer specific questions about the Los Angeles Chapter.