Ben Jealous resigns as NAACP president

Freddie Allen | 9/12/2013, 11:52 a.m.
Five years ago, Benjamin Jealous, president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, made two ...
Benjamin Jealous, president and CEO of the NAACP Freddie Allen

She said he accomplished that mission.

“[Jealous] stayed on the case all the time and he made sure that the NAACP was in the forefront of trying to deal with the emerging issues,” Berry said. “That it is positioned to deal with some of these major issues like the economy. He made it stronger and more possible for the [NAACP] to go to the next level.”

Jealous said that once he steps down at the end of the year, he will dedicate more time at home to being a dad, help train the next generation of leaders, and work on a political action group that can help Black, Latino and other progressive “candidates of color” compete for leadership positions in the South.

Jealous’ tenure was not without its flaws.

In 2010, the NAACP became embroiled in the firing of Shirley Sherrod, an official at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. A doctored video posted by a right-wing website appeared to show Sherrod making racist remarks recounting how she didn’t help a White farmer as much as she should have.

Without reviewing the original video, Jealous backed her dismissal. He later viewed the full tape, retracted his initial statement, and claimed he had been “snookered.” The NAACP urged Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to give

Sherrod her job back at the USDA.

Sherrod accepted the NAACP’s apology and Jealous was able to put that incident behind him.

As the NAACP begins its search for the next president and CEO of the NAACP, Berry said that the organization still needs someone that can maintain the financial solvency and keep the progress going with the membership and the leadership.

Daniels said that it’s important that the next president of the NAACP continue to foster a strong relationship with the faith-based community.

Rev. Amos Brown, pastor of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco, Calif., since 1976, agreed with Daniels.

“The Black church is the base for political engagement in the Black community and that’s why we have got to maintain that relationship with the church,” said Brown, an NAACP board member. “Because of our condition in this country, the Black folks of America are the most religious group of people in the world, and the Black church, for good or ill, has been our forum.”

Jealous recognizes that he leaves the organization stable at a time of great change in the country where many are anticipating the moment where the country becomes a nation of minorities. He said that in this moment they are shifting their tactics.

He recalled that in the first century of the organization’s existence, their work revolved around federal court cases. Now in the second century, Jealous said that the NAACP’s focus has shifted from federal litigation to state legislation. Addressing issues at the state level will take more boots on the ground and more diverse collaborations.

“We have to get much more adept at building big robust coalitions of people,” he said. Listing the NAACP’s recent efforts in bringing together Black, Latino, gay rights groups and city councilmembers representing Muslim and Arab populations to effectively combat the “stop-and-frisk” tactics conducted by the New York City Police Department. Recently, a judge ruled those tactics unconstitutional, a major victory for the NAACP and its partners.

“That is how a democracy works and we in the civil rights community have been rising to that challenge and becoming more effective,” Jealous said.