NAACP Chairman Julian Bond opened the organization's 95th annual convention with harsh words for the Republicans and the President.
The Republican Party appeals to "the dark underside of American culture, to that minority of Americans who reject democracy and equality," snarled Bond, who later said he feared President Bush was "going to repeal the 14th amendment" guaranteeing equal protection under the law.
The harsh words have become a tradition for Bond. Since becoming chairman of the NAACP in 1998, he has consistently used the organization's conventions to publicly proclaim his distaste for the Republicans. He's alternately referred to them as "neo-fascists," "the white-people's party" and "a crazed swarm of right-wing locusts" that have sought to "subvert, ignore, defy and destroy the laws that require an America which is bias-free." Bond opened the NAACP's 93rd annual national convention July 11 by comparing President Bush to a "snake oil" salesman.
Ironically, Bond also expressed disappointment that President Bush chose not to participate in this year's convention. As with most of Bond's remarks, this should be taken with a handful of salt. After all, why on earth would President Bush attend the conference of an organization that openly attacks him, consciously polarizes the race debate against Republicans and effectively acts as the black wing of the Democratic Party?
That's the question I put to Bond, who simply told me the NAACP is a non-partisan civil rights organization that just happens to agree with the Democrats on several key issues.
Of course, the reality is that the NAACP sold out its non-partisan civil rights mission. The change occurred on or about 1995. At the time, the NAACP was foundering amidst charges of sexual harassment and economic improprieties. "We were $4.5 million in debt. We had scandal in the organization. Our very existence was threatened," said Bond, who responded by engaging the services of a headhunting agency to replace the organization's president and CEO.
The firm whittled a pool of 2,000 applicants down to 50. The NAACP's governing board then narrowed the list of applicants to 12. "Kweisi Mfume was the last person we interviewed," says Bond. "When he walked in the room, you could just see people thinking, we've got our man."
With characteristic zeal, Mfume promised to reenergize the organization along overtly political lines. "The extreme ultraconservative policies of the far right are Draconian and punitive," he said, while mapping out a new agenda that would energize black voters for the Democratic Party.