Date: Feature Week of
December 5, 2004
Wanted: Capable Manager To Head Civil Rights Organization
ďSomeone with a business background and management skills," is what the NAACP is seeking as a replacement to recently resigned President and CEO Kweisi Mfume. The job can pay as much as $300,000 a year and instantly catapults the next person to head the nationís oldest and largest civil rights organization as HNIC for Black America.
To be effective toward the groupís mission, the new NAACP head will have to build on the current membership of 500,000 and 2,200 adult branches and 1,700 youth and college chapters to incorporate more of the nationís 35 million Black Americans into the organization. His/her first priority will be to address making the NAACP a viable civil rights organization and less an appendage of the Democratic party.
To keep the NAACP functioning, the next leaders will have to address the Internal Revenue Serviceís threat to revoke the NAACP's tax-exempt status because its Chairman, Julian Bond, "condemned the administration policies of George W. Bush" during a speech this past summer. The NAACP is organized under section 501(c) (3) of the tax code, covering many charities, educational institutions and religious organizations. The IRS says the group is "prohibited from directly or indirectly participating or intervening in any political campaign" and that the group cannot endorse a candidate, contribute to a campaign, raise money for a candidate, distribute statements for or against a particular candidate, or become involved in activity "beneficial or detrimental to any candidate."
An IRS document dated Oct. 8 said that at the group's annual convention in Philadelphia in July 2004, the NAACP may have violated restrictions on political activity because it "distributed statements in opposition of George W. Bush for the office of presidency." "Specifically in a speech made by Chairman Julian Bond, Mr. Bond condemned the administration policies of George W. Bush on education, the economy and the war in Iraq," said an IRS "information document requestĒ. The IRS asked for the cost of the convention, including a "listing of all expense," and the "names and addresses of each board member and indications of how each voted." Bond, a former Georgia State Senator, said that he found it "Nixonian" for the government to send the letter a month before the presidential election, and charged it was designed to intimidate the group from carrying out get-out-the-vote activities. His convention speech mentioned Bush 13 times. "They don't say I crossed any partisan lines -- they just said I criticized the president," says Bond. "I am shocked at this effort to silence our group just before the election." The NAACP is not the first such group to be hit with an IRS suit. The IRS spent a decade investigating religious broadcaster Pat Robertsonís Christian Coalition. The group later prevailed over the IRS, but Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network did pay an IRS fine for its involvement in his 1988 presidential campaign. Itís an open secret, under Mfume and Bond the NAACP has been more political than it has successful civil rights group. The groupís political component registered more black voters than ever during the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. Less obvious were the discrimination lawsuits the group filed on behalf of black college students against the city of Daytona Beach, Fla., and the Adam's Mark hotel chain.
The new NAACP head may have a turf fight with Bond over will would serve as the official face of the NAACP. Although that role has been traditionally played by the president (formerly called the executive director), for years the organization has always had a strong-willed board chair and Bond continues in that mold. The NAACP has a 64-member board of directors, but the organization is controlled by the 17-member executive committee which Bond controls. Many say it was that group that decided not to extend a new contract to Mfume.
The NAACP board is currently conducting a national search to select the next president and CEO. Francisco L. Borges, a Managing Director of FGIC Government Services, a GE Capital Services, Inc. company and former Treasurer for the State of Connecticut co-chairs the search committee. He can be reached at 4805 Mt. Hope Drive, Baltimore Maryland 21215. (410) 521-4939.
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