Is the NAACP Relevant? It’s Up to You

Vast legacy continues as organization tackles today's issues

0317_BUS-Ben-JealousFor years, however, there have been questions about the NAACP’s relevance — especially among young blacks, some of whom are Jealous’ contemporaries. In talking with the organization’s new leader a few months ago, I asked him how he responds to such commentary. He told me that the focus of today’s NAACP would include the development of programs to reverse the high incarceration rate of black males, halt predatory lending practices, combat environmental racism and provide access to educational opportunities for impoverished youth — all topics on the convention’s week-long agenda.

At our hour-long meeting, he admitted that re-energizing the organization and recruiting new members would be a daunting challenge. But he plans to connect with new members by promoting the value of service and developing a digital outreach effort.

Organizations like the NAACP will remain relevant by squarely dealing with issues that African Americans face in 21st Century America with a 21st Century approach. Even the Obama Administration has narrow its broad-based efforts on some issues and has begun to focus on programs targeted at blacks: for example, in the past two weeks, it has held summits on poverty and its impact on African American children and minority businesses development. (Since Paterson assumed the governorship roughly 18 months ago, he has increased minority procurement among New York state agencies from 5 percent to 25 percent.)

But there’s a key component to making the NAACP relevant: you. Instead of criticizing such outfits, we need to join and help bolster them–yes, I’m renewing my membership. By doing so, we can play a hands-on role in solving the problems confronting our communities as well as shape the agenda for the next 100 years. We can ensure that our long-term investment pays huge dividends in our economic, political and social advancement. To paraphrase Obama, we must do what we can to win our fight.

Derek T. Dingle is the editor-in-chief of Black Enterprise magazine.

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  • very insightful article. hope they have tiered memberships cuz folks in the hood – who need the memberships the most – are not going to part with too much dough for an organization that doesn’t affect their everyday lives in an immediately impactful way.

  • eric

    I am challenged to see how the NAACP can affect any change at all in the Black community. I live in a high poverty community. To ‘solve’ problems the ‘leaders’ have worked to shut down problem bars and restaurants and stores. Unfortunately, this has resulted in folks hanging out on the corners and a siege mentality amongst the many who live here. The only true meeting spot in the community right now is the Urban League headquarters! There are no spaces to network in. There is no community culture, just one of survival which is very similar to prison! The NAACP has moved communities in the North Central US in particuliar Minneapolis back into the 50’s and actually regressed educational advances made.
    Now the NAACP has done wonders in the Black Prosperity Belt lets be clear the success of Blacks in Houston, Atlanta, etc cannot be denied and the NAACP has played the leadership role in this. It has however done this at the expense of Minneapolis.

  • The challenge lies in each of us to no longer look to Obama, NAACP, or any other entity, institution, or person to take charge of us and be the captains of our own souls. The NAACP may have served a vital function some time ago but now it is up to each one of us – Looking at the man, woman and child in the mirror – to take 100% responsibility for where they are personally, financially, spiritually, emotionally and physically to change ourselves. If we do that there will be enough good and positive energy to change the universe. We need to learn to mind our own business – You, Inc.

  • Clint, GA

    The NAACP has always been a very progressive organization; however, over that past 10-15 years they have lost touch with the average black community. I hope the new young brother (Jealous)they recently brought on-board will change that, but the have an “old-mindset” (Bond and others) in dealing with current issues. The key for black’s in this country is education and by that I mean pre-school, elementary, high-school, college and trade-schools. We got to end the drop-out rate for blacks (especially young black men). I remember when Mr. Gordon can on-board to try to change the “mindset” of the NAACP and the “old-school” broad members chased him out when he was trying to address economic and educational issues in black America. I hope they give Jealous a chance to change the “mindset” of the NAACP, but the brothers like Bond will have to move on. They are not doing anything but pulling down a “nice payday” and that got to end. They need to go back to the “roots” of the black community to and change the overall direction of Black America. Mr Obama’s election as President should give all of Black America a reason to get off the asses and stop the excuses … Enough said.

  • The NAACP works. A whole lot of stand up citizens work together to make this a better world and that is always relevant. Lifetime member and thankful for those who gave their lives and those that continue to do so for all of us. Keep up the good work.

  • Elie Parker

    For the NAACP to be relevant, it needs to address the economic needs of the poor. In order to do that, the NAACP should build businesses to create jobs, build schools to improve education, encourage healthy eating habits to save lives and reduce health cost, and promote family planning to reduce the number of unmarried mothers. At the same time, the NAACP should discourage the use of those things that harm poor families like alcohol, drugs and tobacco products. The Black community can do this. Like President Obama said, we must take responsibility for our own destiny.

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