New President: Old Problems
Jesus Christ said that “Every kingdom divided against itself comes to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” (Matthew 12:25) Well, after a contentious debate that roared into the wee hours of the morning, 55 members of the 64-member Board of Directors of the National Associate for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) elected the youngest president in its 99-year-history. California native Benjamin Todd Jealous, 35, is the new president of America’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. The post had been vacant for over a year.
And despite the group’s Web site stating that “The NAACP National Board of Directors is pleased to announce the selection of Benjamin T. Jealous as National President & CEO,” not everyone was really pleased. The site is being polite. After the 34-21 vote, board members are quoted as saying that no one clapped, or showed any sign of enthusiasm after the selection was made this past weekend in Baltimore, Maryland. A house divided? Could some have been jealous of Ben Jealous?
The new president comes with an impressive background and impeccable credentials, factors his supporters on the Board used to squelch the other two finalists from even being considered by full board membership sources say. He was the director of a division of Amnesty International where, as one source states, “he led its efforts to pass federal legislation against prison rape, rebuild public consensus against racial profiling in the wake of the September 2001 terrorist attacks, and expose the widespread sentencing of children to life without the possibility of parole.”
Yet another source credits him with having “served as President of the Rosenberg Foundation, a private independent institution that supports advocacy efforts to make significant improvements in the lives of California’s working families and recent immigrants.” He was only the fourth person to occupy that position since the Foundation’s inception in 1935. In fact, its Web site further states that he’s more that just Jealous:
“Formerly,” it says, “Mr. Jealous served as Executive Director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) [which is] a federation of more than 200 black community newspapers [of which the Sentinel is a member]. While at the NNPA, he rebuilt its 90-year-old national news service and spearheaded the creation of a proprietary software system that enabled dozens of local papers to begin publishing online.” Jealous gained valuable experience in the newspaper business while serving as managing editor of Mississippi’s oldest Black newspaper, the Jackson Advocate.
The Foundation’s site goes on to say that “His reporting for the frequently-firebombed weekly was credited with exposing corruption amongst high-ranking officials at the state prison in Parchman, and helping to acquit a small farmer who had been wrongfully and maliciously accused of arson.” And to top it all off, Jealous is a graduate of New York’s Columbia University and Great Briton’s Oxford University, where he was a Rhodes Scholar. Now the criticisms.
With strong connections to the Rosenberg Foundation some suspect that he may be beholden to it, favoring Jewish interests over Black progress. Frankly, many already see the NAACP as being controlled by Jews. And being a Rhodes Scholar has its drawbacks too. Cecil Rhodes (1853-1902), after which the Oxford’s scholarship program was named, has been described as a brutal, gutless expansionist of British interests in southern Africa who got rich off of Black slave labor in South African diamond mines and built a fortune with his De Beers Consolidated Mines Company. The former African country of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was named after him. The significance of this history lesson?
Rhodes came up with a brilliant idea to offer free education to the best and brightest in all the English-speaking countries initially, and then to any number of countries thereafter. Student’s travel and tuition would be paid in full, and they would further receive a monthly stipend. They had to be more than just smart. “Candidates also must display qualities of character, leadership, and personal vigor,” says The World Book Encyclopedia. But, what’s wrong with this picture?
Well, the objective, say critics, was the placement of Rhodes Scholars as world leaders, leaders of corporations, leaders of civic and fraternity groups, etc. Rhodes would have indeed conquered the world and spread British interest on a global scale by placing his “minions” in these strategic positions, let the conspiracy theorists tell it. All these scholars would be children of Rhode’s “dream.” Translation? Benjamin Todd Jealous and those of his ilk belong on the “Dream Team” say the critics. Instead of Africans, this time it’s African Americans who’ll come under the Right Hand of Rhodes.
Julian Bond, Chairman of the Board, strongly endorsed Jealous, who “began his career as an organizer with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.” The Chairman clashed with Bruce Gordon, Jealous’ predecessor, who is alleged to have felt that the once powerful organization, characterized as a ferocious tiger, was now tamed and toothless. Not pleased with either the Chairman or the Board, Gordon tendered his resignation in March 2007.
Bond, who is not heartedly embraced by many African Americans, is viewed to be an ineffective civil rights leader. One reason for this is his weighing in on the wrong side of the debacle several years ago when a gay White Washington, D.C. official ill-advisedly used the word “niggardly.” Mr. Bond castigated Blacks for not knowing the “meaning” of the word. In my book Wicked Words: Poisoned Minds (1997, now out of print), I made it clear that the word is directly linked to the N-Word. Bond has yet to respond to my criticism of his position.
Would WEB DuBois, co-founder of the organization in 1909, recognize today’s NAACP? Will Jealous’ loyalties be divided between Rhodes’ dream, Jewish influence, and Black empowerment? Enquiring minds want to know…Amen.
Dr. Firpo Carr n can be reached at 800.501.2713 or