September 12, 2013

 

Brian W. Carter

LAWT Staff Writer

 

 After serving as president for five years with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored people (NAACP), Benjamin Jealous will be stepping down from the position. The announcement came Sept 9. through a conference call with NAACP Chairwoman Roslyn Brock. Jealous has expressed interest in spending more time with his family, which was one of the two promises he made when he took the position in the beginning. The other promise was to help strengthen the NAACP, which he has done.

 

The son of a Black, retired psychotherapist and author, Ann Todd Jealous and White, civil rights activist, founder and president of the Breakthrough Men’s Community, Fred Jealous, you could say achieving great things runs in the Jealous family blood. 

 

Born in Pacific, Grove, California, Jealous grew up in Monterey, Peninsula, California. He attended Columbia University where he received his B.A. in political science and master’s degree in comparative social research from Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

 

Jealous’ history with the NAACP began at Columbia University when he worked with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He became very active with the association in addressing issues relevant to the Black community. Later he would join the Black Press working as a reporter at the Jackson Advocate in Mississippi. Jealous covered investigative stories exposing corruption and wrongfully accused parties. He would later become the executive director of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), which is made up of 200 Black community newspapers. Jealous is responsible for NNPA.org, the online syndicated news service, which send its content to NNPA member papers.

 

Jealous’ attention to human interests and hard-hitting issues would continue when he took on the position as director of the US Human Rights Program at Amnesty International. There, he addressed issues such as prison conditions, racial profiling and youth sentencing practices. He would also accept the position as president of the Rosenberg Foundation, a nonprofit organization.

 

Jealous was elected as president of the NAACP in 2008 and was the youngest to serve in that position. His passion for addressing issues important to the Black community didn’t stop during his time with the NAACP. Jealous would open national programs addressing criminal justice, health, environment and voting, education and banking issues.

 

His accomplishments include doubling the annual revenue of the NAACP from $23 million in 2007 to $46 million in 2012. Donors to the NAACP also grew from 16,000 to 132,000 over that same period of time. According to Jealous, the NAACP has a greater presence with (1.3 million) activists online and on mobile devices (more than 430,000) than any other civil rights organization.

 

Jealous is responsible for bridging networks with other groups during his tenure. In 2010, the NAACP led protestors, from multiple groups, under the umbrella of the One Nation Working Together Rally to protest issues like stop-and-frisk policing in New York City. Over the course of the past three years, he has started initiatives such as the Democracy Initiative to addressing money in politics, voting rights and reformation in Senate, worked with Tea Party members on criminal justice reform and addressed immigration.

 

In 2009, Jealous received the John Jay Award for his achievements at Columbia University. He has been named in various lists including Time Magazine’s “40 Under 40” rising stars of American politics in 2010, “Power & Influence Top 50” list, Fortune Magazine’s “40 Under 40” in 2012 to name a few.

 

Leon Jenkins, president of the NAACP Los Angeles Branch, commented on Jealous’ departure as president of the NAACP.  He spoke highly of Jealous’ accomplishments and in the qualities the next president needs to embody.

 

“He has served the NAACP very well for five years,” said Jenkins. “Our membership has increased, I believe, over 100,000 people since his time there.

 

“He is going to be sorely missed—I just hope the next person we get shares some of the values that are very close to the NAACP and has a charismatic presence.

 

“At this point and time—that’s what we need.”

 

“Ben Jealous has done a tremendous job in leading the oldest civil rights organization in the nation,” said Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chairman Mark Ridley-Thomas.  “For the past five years he has demonstrated praiseworthy stewardship, upholding the NAACP’s long-standing legacy of fighting for civil rights for all people, whether leading the charge to abolish the death penalty in Connecticut and Maryland or registering thousands of voters across the country. His dedication and tenacity as the leader of the NAACP will be missed.  I wish him well in all his future endeavors.” 

 

Al Sharpton, president and founder of the National Action Network, had mixed emotions when he received news that Jealous would resign from the NAACP.

 

“I am happy that he has done so well and leaves his post with no scandal, shame, or physical challenges, and young enough to have a bright future,” stated Sharpton in a press release. “There is sadness, however, because for the last several years he has joined Marc Morial (National Urban League president), Melanie Campbell (president of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation), and me as we tried to broaden the civil rights leadership of the 21st century movement. Ben Jealous has operated with integrity and a real sense of hands-on activism.”

 

Ron Daniels, president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, a group working to empower Black communities economically and politically, stated that Jealous brought new energy to the NAACP with gifted and talented youth.

 

“[Jealous] uplifted these issues as being vitally important to healing and revitalizing sectors of Black America moving forward,” said Daniels. “There is a way that people tend to stay in these positions for a very long time, five years is not a long time. His tenure was really successful and I was actually looking forward to more.”

 

“The NAACP has always been the largest civil rights organization in the streets, and today it is also the largest civil rights organization online, on mobile and at the ballot box too,” said Jealous.  “I am proud to leave the Association financially sound, sustainable, focused, and more powerful than ever. Beginning next year, I look forward to pursuing opportunities in academia to train the next generation of leaders and, of course, spending a lot more time with my young family."

 

Jealous can leave the position knowing that he made great strides for the NAACP during his tenure. Now he that he’s fulfilled his first promise, no doubt he will accomplish his second promise to spend more time with his children. Jealous resigns Dec. 31.

 

Freddie Allen, NNPA Washington Correspondent, contributed to this article.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

September 12, 2013

By Blair Adams

Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper

 

One of the most opinionated political commentators, Dr. Cornel West, has incited a new round of controversy by calling Rev. Al Sharpton a “Bonafide House Negro of the Obama Plantation.”

During an Aug. 30 interview with radio host Tavis Smiley, West spoke of the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. He said the celebration included some wonderful speakers, but most of the country didn’t get a chance to hear them because speeches made by Sharpton and President Barack Obama “sanitized” Dr.Martin Luther King’s vision.

“Instead, we saw of course the coronation of the bonafidehouse negro of the Obama plantation, our dear brother Al Sharpton, supported by the Michael Dysons and others who’ve really prostituted themselves intellectually in a very ugly and vicious way,” West said of Sharpton’s speech.

West said the anniversary of the March on Washington was a beautiful thing. “I was there in D.C. to see the magnificent expression of, like, faces and sparkling eyes of everyday people of all colors, hungry, thirsty for justice, hungry, thirsty for truth.”

“Brother Martin himself, I think, would’ve been turning over in his grave,” West said. “King would have wanted people to talk about Wall Street criminality, he wants people to talk about war crimes, or drones dropping bombs on innocent people.”

West’s comments call back to an April 30, 1967 speech by King entitled “Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam[3]”, in which the civil rights leader said:

“I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.”

The hostility between West and Sharpton is nothing new. During a July interview on Democracy Now, West referred to Sharpton, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry as being “brought and paid for by the Rent-a-Negro network.”

According to audio found on Mediaite, West said, “if this anniversary happened during the Clinton presidency we would have seen the same thing.”

“Martin Luther King Jr. would just shed tears if he could see Black leadership personified by Sharpton at this point in time,” said West.

“Black leadership is just so sold out, it’s so bought out, it’s so differential and it’s so subservient,” he added.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

September 05, 2013

By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA

Associated Press

 

South Africans on September 2 welcomed Nelson Mandela’s discharge from a hospital after nearly three months of treatment amid concerns that his health remains so poor that he still must receive intensive care at home.

An ambulance returned the 95-year-old leader of the anti-apartheid movement to his home in the leafy Johannesburg neighborhood of Houghton on Sunday. The office of South African President Jacob Zuma said Mandela remains in critical and sometimes unstable condition and will receive the same level of care that he did in the hospital, administered by the same doctors.

Authorities kept a large contingent of journalists away from the entrance to Mandela’s house, and police patrolled tree-lined streets in the area. Some grandchildren and other relatives of the former leader visited the home, but did not comment to the media.

When Mandela was hospitalized, many people left written tributes outside the perimeter wall of his home, turning the area into a makeshift shrine. Most of the messages were later removed.

“If he’s back at home, I’m feeling free,” said Harrison Phiri, a gardener. “He’s the father of the nation.”

Thembisa Mbolambi, another Johannesburg resident, also expressed satisfaction that Mandela had left the hospital in Pretoria, describing him as “the man who offered himself for us.”

The Star, a South African newspaper, carried a headline that read, “Madiba At Home,” referring to Mandela by his clan name. The newspaper noted that "worries over infection persist.”

A headline in The New Age newspaper was more upbeat: “World joy for Mandela.”

Mandela was admitted to the hospital on June 8 for what the government described as a recurring lung infection. Legal papers filed by his family said he was on life support, and many South Africans feared he was close to death.

Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is viewed around the world as a powerful figure of reconciliation. Despite being jailed for his prominent role in opposing white racist rule, Mandela was seemingly free of rancor on his release in 1990 after 27 years in prison.

He became a unifying leader who led South Africa through a delicate transition to all-race elections that propelled him to the presidency in 1994.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

September 05, 2013

By SARAH EL DEEB

Associated Press

 

A panel of Egyptian judges recommended on Monday September 2 the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood, adding momentum to a push by authorities to ban the ousted president's main backer and a pillar of political Islam in the region.

Since the military deposed Mohammed Morsi in a July 3 coup, it has steadily intensified a crackdown on the Brotherhood, Egypt's largest political organization. Hundreds of its members are in detention and facing prosecution, many on charges of inciting violence.

Morsi himself has been held in an undisclosed location since his ouster. On Sunday, state prosecutors charged him with inciting the murder of his opponents. A date has yet to be set for the trial, in which 14 leading Brotherhood members are also charged.

In its recommendation to Egypt's administrative court, the panel of judges accused the Brotherhood of operating outside the law. It also recommended the closure of its Cairo headquarters.

The recommendation is nonbinding for the court, which holds its next hearing on Nov. 12.

Both state and private Egyptian media have adopted the interim government's line on dealing with the Brotherhood since the coup, repeatedly describing the group's actions and those of other Morsi supporters as acts of "terrorism."

The 85-year-old organization had faced legal challenges even before Morsi's ouster. Officially banned for most of its existence, it flourished as a major provider of social services to the country's poor and eventually won seats in parliament and union leadership.

But its lack of legal status, as well as its secretive organization and funding had left it open to recurrent crackdowns by the government over the years. Thousands of its members had been imprisoned on charges ranging from endangering national security to belonging to an illegal organization.

The Brotherhood rose to the forefront of Egyptian politics however after the 2011 popular uprising that forced longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power. The group then formed a political party and won majority seats in the parliament. Its candidate, Morsi, became the country's first Islamist president.

The distinction between the religious-based Brotherhood and its political party however remained unclear, raising questions about financing and legal status and driving many opponents to file lawsuits seeking Brotherhood's dissolution.

A similar recommendation by a panel of judges was issued in March ahead of a court decision on the group's legal status. Only then, the Brotherhood declared it had registered itself as a non-governmental organization.

Critics questioned the hastened registration. Approval by the ministry overseeing such groups usually takes up to two months and requires review of applicants' records and accounting.

The non-governmental organization status also entails disengagement from political activities, such as backing candidates or campaigning before elections. Most observers doubted such a position would be possible for the Brotherhood, saying the distinction between the structure and funding of the group and its political party, Freedom and Justice, were opaque. Critics also charged that Morsi relied on the Brotherhood's leadership in his decision making.

Legal expert Nasser Amin said the court is likely to judge the Brotherhood in violation of the non-governmental organization status.

"It clearly had political programs and endorsed candidates in violation of the law," he said. "It also engaged in armed operations" when its members defended its headquarters building from protesters in a Cairo suburb at a time when nearly a half dozen Brotherhood offices were being torched.

At the time, Morsi blamed thugs for the political violence and accused the opposition of providing political cover for them. The largely secular opposition denied the charge, saying it did not condone violence.

Some in Egypt fear banning the Brotherhood and its political party would simply force it to again operate underground.

In a recent interview, interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi said such a ban would not be a solution. He also warned against taking such dramatic decisions during turbulent times, and suggested government monitoring of political parties as a more reasonable alternative.

Mohammed Zaree, a civil and political rights campaigner with the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, said that although the Brotherhood's sudden registration as an organization left many questions unanswered, the current drive to ban it was more likely a move to appease a hostile public opinion and punish the group. Millions had demonstrated ahead of the coup demanding Morsi's resignation, accusing him and his group of abuse of power.

Doing so however would only drive it underground, Zaree said. "It was banned before. It never vanished ... Repression and security crackdowns never kill an idea — they only aggravate the problem."

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

September 05, 2013

By ARLEY PETESCH

Associated Press

 

A splinter group has been formed within Nigeria's ruling party by a former presidential candidate and seven governors who want more action against poverty and crime, one of the governors said Monday, in the first major internal challenge to the president since he was elected in 2011.

Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, the governor of the southern Rivers state, told reporters that they hope to "transform from just a party that presents a candidate to a party with certain ideology."

He said the new group within the ruling People's Democratic Party, or PDP, wants the government to do more to fight poverty and insecurity as well as improve education.

"If you don't deal with poverty, you have insecurity," Amaechi said. "If you remove impunity then you don't have anything to worry about."

The governors made their move during a weekend convention by President Goodluck Jonathan's party, which has won every election since decades of military dictatorship ended in 1999 and democracy was restored. The final trigger for the splinter group came amid an internal fight to fill vacant positions within an influential committee of the ruling party.

Another senior party member, former interim PDP leader Kawu Baraje, said on Saturday that it was their "sacred responsibility to save the PDP from the antics of a few desperadoes who have no democratic temperament and are therefore bent on hijacking the party for selfish ends."

Amaechi insisted, however, that they remain part of the PDP.

"I think the splintering itself is generally a positive thing," said Raufu Mustapha, a Nigerian lecturer on African politics at the University of Oxford in England. "The party's power was beginning to threaten the quality of democratic expression in the country, so anything to strangle that threat is a good thing."

Mustapha said tension within the ruling party had been festering for some time, and called it a struggle for power rather than an ideological contest "because most of them are cut from the same cloth." But they have started an important debate and some represent change, he added.

The governors lead states that tend to have high voter turnout in elections, presenting a challenge to the current leadership of the party. Nigeria, which has a population of more than 160 million, holds elections in 2015.

Jonathan, who as vice president came to power after President Umar Yar'Adua died in 2010, has not said if he will run again. He would face the challenge of a coalition of three opposition parties.

Some northern politicians within the ruling party don't want Jonathan, a southerner and a Christian, to run for a second four-year term, objecting that northerners were cheated of their turn at the presidency when Yar'Adua died.

Analysts say there is an unwritten agreement within the ruling party that power must be shared between the north and the south and a northern president should be succeeded by a southerner in order to balance power in Africa's most populous nation.

Nigeria is divided about equally between Muslims who dominate the north and Christians who live mainly in the south.

Traditional rivalries between Christians and Muslims have intensified because of an Islamic uprising in Nigeria's northeast. The Boko Haram terrorist network is accused of killing more than 1,700 civilians since 2010, according to a count by The Associated Press.

Parent Category: ROOT
Category: News

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