ABOVE: L – R: NAACP Chair Leon W. Russell and Vice Chair Derrick Johnson
This past Friday, May 19th, the NAACP Board of Directors announced that they were moving in a new direction that consisted of parting ways with their current CEO and President Cornell Brooks, and are focusing on a transformational, system-wide refresh and strategic re-envisioning.
According to a statement released by the organization, their objective is to best position the NAACP in a way that confronts the realities of today’s volatile political, media and social climates. Some of the issues the organization believe have stood in the way of equality and justice for people of color include, but are not limited to: the various forms of voter suppression; increased police brutality; the over criminalization of African Americans; income inequality; inadequate health care; anti-immigrant sentiments; and much more.
NAACP Board Chairman Leon W. Russell and Vice Chair Derrick Johnson will manage the organization on an interim basis until a new leader is named. Brooks will remain with the organization until June 30, 2017, which is the end of his current term.
“Our organization has been at the forefront of America, making tremendous strides over the last hundred years,” said Russell. “However, modern day civil rights issues facing the NAACP, like education reform, voting rights and access to affordable health care, still persist and demand our continued action.”
Russell was elected as Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors in February 2017. Prior to assuming that role, he served as Vice Chair of the NAACP Board and has been a board member for over 27 years. Johnson was elected as Vice-Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors in February 2017. Before taking this position, Johnson was the State President of the Mississippi NAACP and Executive Director of One Voice Inc.
“These changing times require us to be vigilant and agile, but we have never been more committed or ready for the challenges ahead,” said Russell. “We know that our hundreds of thousands of members and supporters expect a strong and resilient NAACP moving forward, as our organization has been in the past, and it remains our mission to ensure the advancement of communities of color in this country.”
Also in their announcement last week, the NAACP Board indicated that they will embark on a listening tour, for the first time in the history of the organization, where everyone would have a seat at the table, including: its own staff; the new movements for social change, such as Black Lives Matter and others; local organizers who are helping to rebuild neighborhoods; faith leaders; traditional and historic African American organizations that provide much needed services to their communities; social justice advocates who are tackling income inequality; the millions of marchers who have taken to streets for women rights and immigrant rights; business leaders; philanthropists lending private sector support; long-time civil rights champions who sacrificed their lives for the freedoms we have today; and many others.
“In the coming months, the NAACP will embark upon a historic national listening tour to ensure that we harness the energy and voices of our grassroots members, to help us achieve transformational change, and create an internal culture designed to push the needle forward on civil rights and social justice,” said Vice Chair Johnson.
Founded in 1909 in response to the rampant and violent lynching of Black Americans, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. For more information about the organization or to join, please visit NAACP.org.