August 25, 2016
Request the following response to your Aug 24-30, 2016 Edition Front Page Article: Right or Wrong? Houston NAACP Ignores Impending Threat by Jeffrey L. Boney, Associate Editor is printed in an appropriate edition of the Houston Forward Times.
As a former NAACP Region VI Director, responsible for overseeing field operations and providing both support and direction to NAACP units operating within the region, including the NAACP Houston Branch, I want to begin my comments by saying that the NAACP is widely recognized as the LARGEST And the OLDEST, The BADDEST And the BOLDEST, The MOST LOVED And the MOST HATED, The MOST FEARED And REVERED, The MOST CUSSED And DISCUSSED Civil Rights Organization in America. However, I couldn’t agree more with Associate Editor Jeffrey L. Boney’s assessment that the current leadership of the NAACP Houston Branch is out of touch with the community.
I do not believe that the White Lives Matter group would have had the courage to show up in front of the NAACP Headquarters, in Houston’s City Council District D, the district with the most African Americans, had the leadership been living up to NAACP’s reputation as being the premiere crusading voice for civil rights in Houston. When it comes to the struggles of today, the NAACP Branch leaders have been culpably deficient in addressing the important civil rights issues in Houston.
The Black community has serious issues; police shootings of unarmed black men, major store chains not willing to invest in minority communities, store chains such as Sprouts, who, when asked to invest in the black community by a black city council member, responded by saying that the “community was not educated enough for a Sprouts store”, a chain which is nothing more than a farmers market inside a building or challenging other major store chains like HEB for their policy of only building their low-end Joe V’s stores in minority communities and not putting their larger and better well stocked brands such as a fully stocked HEB or HEB Plus stores in minority communities. Currently, their only HEB branded store in the Black community is in District D where the White Lives Matter group disrespected the NAACP. Due to its size and lack of amenities, the HEB store currently in District D would be an embarrassment in any of the majority white neighborhoods where HEB has stores. I understand that there is an HEB Plus store planned near McGreggor but I believe that has more to do with white gentrification in the area than meeting the grocery needs of the Black community.
NAACP leaders were also missing in action when the State of Texas made the decision to close the North Forrest Independent School District, causing the community to lose political power when its seven black elected school board members ceased to exist and the NAACP leadership allowed the white press to disparage school faculty and elected officials without any response.
In spite of all this, one of the worst examples of NAACP leaders being culpably deficient was when they failed to stand with Black Lives Matter activists when they protested against Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman as he tried to blame Black Lives Matter during a press conference for the cold-blooded murder of Darren Goforth and giving Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, who was at his side at the time and said, “Well, cops,’ lives matter, too, an NAACP award.
NAACP leaders were also quoted as saying that they were aware of the protest but decided not to intervene or inform the community because the White Lives Matter group had a constitutional right to be there. Well, there used to be a constitutional right for whites to own slaves and to deny African Americans many of the rights supposedly guaranteed by the constitution. I am certain that past leaders of the NAACP, including Houston’s own esteemed NAACP Leader, Lula B. White, would not have stood by and allowed a racists group such as the White Lives Matter, waving their confederate flags, to disrespect the NAACP. The optics of that group, right in front of NAACP Headquarters, rubbed many people the wrong way, including me. Not only was the group allowed to block the sidewalk, which is illegal, they were right in front of the building and members of the Black community were across the street like they were the outsiders. This situation was created by the leadership of the NAACP when they knew in advance about the protest and did not inform the community.
The late Julian Bond, Board Chairman of the NAACP stated the following, “The NAACP’s story was and is a lengthy chronicle of a remarkable interracial army of ordinary men and women drawn from every walk of life and every race and class, dedicated to using every legal means to advance justice and fair play by engaging in extraordinary activity. He went on to state that “The NAACP marched before marching for civil rights became popular, successfully sued for fairness when most Americans did not dream of asking the courts for equality, appeared before state and federal legislatures and registered fierce objections to racial affronts, and firmly insisted on equality in every aspect of American life.
I believe that the current leaders of the Houston Branch NAACP have forgotten this history and that they are a civil rights organization and not elected officials. The leadership of the NAACP Branch has failed, on numerous occasions, to fight to improve the political, educational, social, and economic status of the people who need them the most, they have failed to keep the public aware of the adverse effects of discrimination and they have failed to take the actions necessary to secure the elimination of racial discrimination or to seek legislation and policies, especially at the local level, to reverse the impact that negative social policies have on the communities they serve.
Elected officials compromise, elected officials negotiate behind closed doors, elected officials accept political donations from people who refuse to invest in minority communities, elected officials give out bogus awards to curry favor but these should not be the attributes of the leaders of the NAACP Houston Branch.
I could go on but it should be clear to everyone who reads this article why the White Lives Matter group felt empowered to do what they did in front of the NAACP and why there has been so much criticism and push back from the community.
The NAACP is the most democratic of all the civil rights organizations. It is first and foremost a membership organization and its leaders are chosen by the votes of its members. It is also the only national civil rights organization that reserves seats on its Board of Directors for young people, elected solely by the votes of the NAACP’s young people.
I would ask this of all those who want change and have been complaining about the leadership of the NAACP Houston Branch, especially the young people, who seem to want Bold and Uncompromising leadership at the Houston Branch, to go and join the local branch, not only for the reasons stated in the fundraising letter sent out by branch leaders following the embarrassment on that Sunday evening, but join to ensure that what happened that day never happens again and run for office themselves or vote for people who they feel will truly represent their interest and concerns and who will uphold the values and traditions of The LARGEST And the OLDEST, The BADDEST And the BOLDEST, The MOST LOVED And the MOST HATED, The MOST FEARED And REVERED, The MOST CUSSED And DISCUSSED Civil Rights Organization in America, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Claude Foster is an NAACP Life Member, Former NAACP Region VI Director and Former Houston Executive Committee Member. Foster is the President of CGA Group, LLC, a political consulting and grassroots advocacy firm based in Houston, TX. Foster is a consummate professional and enjoys fulfilling the diverse needs of his clients, as well as remaining committed to serving his community in various capacities through his affiliation and membership in national and local organizations such as the NAACP and as a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Foster is married to the former Doalisha Lotece Malone, and is a proud father and grandfather.