July 12, 2012 marked the end of the NAACP’s annual meeting and 103 years of faithful service to the black community. Members and their families gathered from around the world. Their annual pilgrimage celebrates the work of WEB Dubois, Medgar Evers, and thousands of patriots who believed in the American dream. When I personally think about the greatest years for the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, I think of the legacy of Harvard trained Charles Hamilton Houston. Houston became the NAACP chief counsel in 1935.
As the Howard University law school dean, he revolutionized the training of black lawyers - raising up a generation of the most competent lawyers of their day. His strategy on school segregation cases, according to the NAACP web site, “paved the way for his protégé Thurgood Marshall to prevail in 1954's Brown v. Board of Education, the decision that overturned Plessy."
Despite thousands of kudos that could be given to the organization, in recent years the NAACP has begun to drift off mission. They have stopped addressing the most pressing issues of African Americans with a Christian ethos and the spirit of humility, justice, and racial reconciliation. Historically pastors and other religious leaders have made up a large percentage of the leadership of the NAACP. Empowered by Christian principles, the organization faithfully followed this mission statement:
“The NAACP's principal objective is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of United States and eliminate race prejudice. The NAACP seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through the democratic processes.”
How has the NAACP veered off course? The most concerning sign of mission drift is their stance on traditional marriage. First of all, they opposed the Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. Secondly, the NAACP also opposed the traditional marriage affirming Proposition 8 in California in 2008. Most recently, their 2012 resolution supporting same-sex marriage has become the source of tremendous controversy for many NAACP members and the black community at large. This measure was passed quickly, without discussion or debate. Many community leaders would like to know why the politically motivated rush to judgment, when most blacks oppose same-sex marriage.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.