NAACP civil rights group chief says he's being fired

Reuters News
Posted: May 19, 2017 4:59 PM

By Ian Simpson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The president of the NAACP said on Friday he was being dismissed after three years of leading the biggest U.S. civil rights organization as the group said it is seeking a more confrontational strategy against President Donald Trump.

Cornell Brooks, who also is the chief executive of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People since mid-2014, said the group's chairman and vice chairman told him on Thursday that his contract would not be extended when it expired at the end of June.

Brooks gave no reason for his dismissal. The NAACP said in a statement that its leadership would announce "an organization-wide refresh" on Friday.

"I'm disappointed and mystified," Brooks said in a telephone interview.

Brooks said that, including interim leaders, he was at least the 10th head of the NAACP in 15 years.

"There's been a revolving door of CEOs at the NAACP and this is a bad moment for it to be spinning," he said.

NAACP Chairman Leon Russell and Vice Chairman Derrick Johnson told the New York Times the group needed to push back more effectively against Trump on issues such as voting rights, public education, environmental policy and the criminal justice system.

Trump, a Republican, has appointed a commission to investigate voter fraud, a move critics say is aimed at suppressing voters. He also has proposed cuts in education spending and environmental enforcement and Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called for harsher sentencing against most criminals.

The NAACP has been a leader of U.S. civil rights since its founding in 1909. Its pre-eminence has been challenged by the Black Lives Matter movement that sprang up to protest police shootings of African Americans in recent years and by mass protests against Trump.

Brooks, a lawyer and minister, said membership and donations had increased during his tenure and NAACP lawyers had won nine court cases in 10 months over voter suppression.

"It's been two years and 11 months and in that time the NAACP has been unrelenting in our challenge to this administration and other opponents of civil rights," he said.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Bill Trott)