Thursday, February 12, 2009

WE ARE 100 1909-2009

100 years ago, a small multiracial group of progressive thinkers came together to share a bold dream: An America free of the racial oppression that sullied the soul of our nation. The NAACP was born of that noble vision.The new organization launched a 30-year struggle to end the horror of lynch mobs. Then we fought to reverse the Jim Crow laws, and two decades later, segregation was made illegal. In the 1960's, the NAACP took up the fight for economic and political inclusion... and just a few months ago, an African-American president was elected.I've only been CEO of the NAACP since September, but I want to take this opportunity to thank you -- whether you're a veteran NAACP member who was there during the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, or whether you joined us two years ago to protest the treatment of the young men of the Jena 6.The NAACP has always embraced the impossible. Our triumphs have not been ours alone. Ending lynch mobs against African Americans also ended the horror for White Catholics, the second largest group of lynching victims. Our fight against discrimination helped all disenfranchised members of our country open locked doors and break through barriers of inequity. I want to thank you for all you have done... and all you will do as we recommit to the struggle. Because the journey is not over. Black unemployment is twice that of white Americans. A majority of employers preferred to hire a white criminal than a black man without a criminal record, according to several surveys. African American children disproportionately attend segregated, poor quality schools. Mass incarceration is harming far too many people of color when drug treatment and other approaches would have better outcomes. The health disparities in our communities are well-known. Now as we face our second 100 years, we can begin to see the realization of the vision of a new land where all live in safe communities and law enforcement respects and protects our neighborhoods. A land where all children can blossom in quality schools... where every worker has a fair chance for employment, education and advancement. Because of your idealism, your willingness to dream big dreams, to set big goals... and to do the hard work, the NAACP has changed our country in our lifetime.Join me in celebrating... and in taking the next steps to realize our vision of justice and equality for all. And take a look at this Washington Post story about what your NAACP is doing now.