What the NAACP Ought to Do
By Richard Adams, Jr.
Every year at this time the talk in the Black community swirls around interpretations of the purpose and efficacy of the NAACP. Some imagine, never having been to a national convention, that the weekend is one big excuse for partying and all types of debauchery. Others dismiss the gathering as an annual opportunity for the Black middle class to assemble to celebrate their affluence and the fact that they are not a member of the huddled masses. Still others think the annual gabfest is good as conventions go, the right speeches are made filled with the correct exhortations, a few scholarships are awarded, and the obligatory visit by representatives of the current occupant of the White House is showcased.
Just once it would be nice if the convention announced something substantive and monumental. Now I know you are probably thinking what could the delegates do, that could be characterized as monumental. Well, I have a couple of suggestions that could make for a memorable convention.
Imagine the leadership of the NAACP, announcing that unlike conventions of the past, this one would issue only 4 action resolutions, instead of the usual encyclopedia listing of declarations.
Opening day, the assembled leadership announces that there will be a convention in 1999, but there will not be another one until 2003. From that day forward, the Association will meet every 3 years, the year proceeding national Presidential elections. Money saved in the off years are to be applied to national office and local chapter operating budgets.
The second resolution would be to change membership dues to monthly, sliding fee scale tithes. The dues would be disbursed in quarterly allotments to; national operations, national endowment, local chapter operations, and local chapter endowments. Also, the national and all chapters, would be prohibited from receiving funds from sources external to our community for operations. Friends of the NAACP and Black people would be encouraged to give unrestricted contributions to national and local endowments only.
The third resolution would call for local chapters to band together, wherever feasible, to purchase office buildings, and provide paid staff support. No more rented headquarters and all volunteer staffs.
The fourth resolution would establish a national communications system, in partnership with Black newspapers and radio stations, and utilizing "snail" and e-mail, fax, letter and phone calls to direct national lobbying and protest efforts. Black media would make available regular column space and air time to promote the campaigns. The federal government, state capitols, corporations, public and private institutions would be targeted. Any entity disrespecting or exploiting the Black community would be subject to a powerful, nationally coordinated fight back.
Relatively simple actions, these 4 resolutions, but taken together and faithfully implemented, they would have a profound effect on the NAACP and the larger Black community. Those changes would proclaim a newly empowered and self-reliant people poised to confidently enter the 21st century.
Pittsburgh, Pa 15206