Newswire: NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson issued the following statement on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to U.S. Supreme Court

Derrick Johnson, NAACP “This Senate hearing on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U. S. Supreme Court should not go forward. The President is in personal legal jeopardy and only a fraction of Kavanaugh’s record has been produced. To proceed now threatens the legitimacy of the Senate’s constitutional review and the Supreme Court itself. What we do know of Judge Kavanaugh’s civil rights record is deeply troubling. His views on voting rights, affirmative action, equal employment, fair housing, and criminal justice could shut the courthouse door on justice for a generation. Senators need to fight this nomination with everything they have. There is simply too much at stake.” · Read findings on Kavanaugh’s Civil Rights record · Learn more about NAACP’s fight for fair judicial appointments · Watch President Johnson speak out on the importance of fair courts Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas at www.naacp.org.

Newswire : Starbucks will close more than 8,000 stores for racial-bias training

By Frederick H. Lowe, NorthStar News

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Police surround Starbucks in Philadelphia

Starbucks will close more than 8,000 company-owned stores affecting 175,000 employees in the United States on May 29th to address implicit racial bias, following arrests of two black-male customers last week at its Center City store in Philadelphia.
“I’ve spent the last few days in Philadelphia with my leadership team listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to fix it,” said Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks. ” All Starbucks company-owned retail stores and corporate offices will be closed in the afternoon of Tuesda Newsy, May 29. During that time, partners (employees) will go through a training program designed to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome.”
Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Eric Holder, former U.S. Attorney General; Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League and Heather McGhee, president of Demos, a think tank and research policy center, are assisting in developing Starbucks’ curriculum.
Johnson made his announcement after he met with two black men police arrested when the manager of a Center City, Philadelphia, Starbucks complained they wouldn’t leave the coffee shop after they weren’t allowed to use the restroom because they hadn’t purchased anything.
Spokespersons for Seattle-based Starbucks did not disclose what was discussed between the two men, who were not identified. Earlier, Johnson called the incident “reprehensible” and publicly apologized to the men involved.
Six Philadelphia police officers arrested the men Thursday afternoon for trespassing. The men were waiting to meet another man, who is white and who had scheduled a meeting with them in the Starbucks.
The arrests, which were captured on cell phone video, sparked demonstrations inside and outside the Starbucks, which is located on swanky Rittenhouse Square, and more national and international conversations over social media about the state of race in the era of President Donald Trump.
Richard Ross, Philadelphia’s police chief, who is black, defended his men, arguing they did not do anything wrong in making the arrests.
But the arrests caused hand wringing among others. The Philadelphia district attorney later released the two men because Starbucks refused to press charges. Jim Kenny, Philadelphia’s mayor, wasn’t happy about the arrests.
The woman manager who called the police has either left the store or the company, according to various news reports.
Facebook released a video showing a black man being ordered to leave a Starbucks in Torrance, California, after complaining employees gave a white make customer the numerical code to open the door of the men’s restroom before he ordered food. The black man was not given the same code. Starbucks officials said they are aware of the video.
The Rittenhouse Square arrests angered the NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
“The arrest of two black men at a Philadelphia Starbucks represents another ominous signal on the increasingly dangerous environment for African Americans,” wrote Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP. “Every day people of color find themselves at the mercy of stereotypes and embedded fears of others…Racism and biases that make simply breathing while black so dangerous will not just go away without our society committing more resources to discussion, education and training on implicit bias and racism.”
“We know if two Black men in Philadelphia require six police officers to handcuff and arrest them for waiting to order coffee, then we begin to understand the mind state that allows for such overzealous and reactionary use of deadly force by those who are paid to serve and protect.
“Every day people of color find themselves at the mercy of the stereotypes and embedded fears of others. How else can we explain why 14-year-old Brennan Walker who missed his bus on his way to school would be shot at by a homeowner just outside Detroit? Or explain Saheed Vassell, a mentally-ill man in Brooklyn fired at ten times and shot dead by police officers. Or why Stephon Clark was shot at 20 times and hit 8 times, mainly in the back, by police officers in Sacramento, based on the assumption that he was the culprit responsible for breaking into cars. We are at least glad in the case of Starbucks that no one mistook a wallet for a gun.

Newswire : NAACP and Africa-America Institute announce Alliance

Partnership includes Pre-K to College Curriculum on the African Diaspora

By: Malik Russell/ mrussell@naacpnet.org

 

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                                               Derrick Johnson, NAACP President

PASEDENA, CA (January 15, 2018)—On Monday, January 15, 2018, the holiday marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the NAACP and the Africa-America Institute announced a groundbreaking partnership during the 49th NAACP Image Awards.
The NAACP will work with the AAI on the development and distribution of a curriculum designed to highlight the accomplishments, achievements and history of Africa and its Diaspora.
“It’s appropriate that on a day that we honor Dr. King as well as promote positive images of people of color, we announce to the world a partnership that includes a curriculum, learning exchange and a network for advocacy and activism on behalf of those of African descent in the United States and abroad, “said Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP.
“AAI has a long history of academic exchange and educational meetings between Africa and America. Now is an extraordinary time and opportunity to partner with the NAACP and together connect the more than 42 million Afro-descendants with the brilliance of the African history and its contribution to modern civilization,” added Kofi Appenteng, President of the Africa-America Institute.
The curriculum from the NAACP/AAI Alliance will include content such as Africa’s Great Civilizations, the critically acclaimed series by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Partners and NAACP chapters will benefit from organized screenings and lessons with an early education focus on positive identity formation and a more advanced curriculum that includes studies in social sciences.

A campaign kick-off will take place in February of 2018 as a part of Black History Month.
ABOUT THE AFRICA-AMERICA INSTITUTE (AAI)
The Africa-America Institute is the premier U.S.-based international organization that works to increase the capacity of African individuals and institutions through higher education initiatives, leadership development, professional workforce training, convening activities, program implementation and management.

ABOUT THE NAACP
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas here.

 

Newswire : NAACP strongly opposes unfair trillion dollar tax giveaway to the wealthy

by: Special to the AFRO

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BALTIMORE—The NAACP unequivocally stands in opposition to the recent Senate Tax Plan that passed in the early hours of Saturday, and the conference committee report, which Congress is voting on now. This tax legislation recklessly reclassifies our tax system to the benefit of the nation’s wealthiest and to the detriment of hardworking low and middle income communities, women and children.
“This tax plan promotes the old fable of trickle-down economics where politicians promote the myth that over a trillion dollars in deficit-generating tax giveaways will somehow pay for themselves because the wealthy will invest that money in the economy,” said Derrick Johnson, NAACP President and CEO. “In reality, we know from previous experience that their unfair financial windfall will never trickle down to the average American.
“What will trickle down to our communities, especially young children and families, senior citizens, disabled Americans, students and low and middle-income working families, are cuts to the programs that average Americans need to survive, including Medicaid, SNAP (food stamps), housing assistance, public education, Social Security, and Medicare.
“In addition to a permanent tax giveaway for corporations, one of the most sickening parts of this huge tax plan is that it will remove the safety net of health insurance from nearly 13 million individuals and a disproportionate number of low-income communities of color.
“This proposal contradicts the core American values of shared responsibility and compassion through its attempt to make inequality permanent. It handcuffs local and state government’s ability to cover education and other critical services by repealing the federal deduction for state and local income and sales taxes and capping the deduction for state property taxes.
“The Senate proposal also leaves out children in hard working families earning low wages from an expansion of the Child Tax Credit (CTC). While the Senate plan expands the credit to higher-income households – including those earning up to $500,000 a year – millions of children would receive little or no benefit. Moreover, the Senate plan excludes a million immigrant children who currently qualify for the CTC.
“While the tax code should be used as a mechanism to promote equity and the fair sharing of our nation’s services and commitments, it has instead been co-opted in a partisan way that takes even more from those who have less to make life even more favored for the 1 percent.
“The NAACP is deeply concerned about the injustice of a tax reform that will provide 83% of its benefits to the top 1% of the people in the nation based on income,” said Johnson.

 

Newswire : Nine Civil Rights organizations led by Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights Under Law file Amicus Brief In SCOTUS case regarding discrimination In public accommodations

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – A broad coalition of civil rights organizations led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed an amicus curiae or “friend of the court” brief Monday for the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in which the justices will decide whether discrimination by businesses is lawful in our country.
The Masterpiece case is part of a trend involving businesses denying goods and services to same-sex couples, and the consequences could include the nullification of civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in public accommodations. The brief was filed in the wake of the Justice Department’s unusual move of filing a brief in the case, in which the Department argued that such discrimination is protected speech under the First Amendment.
“Throughout this country’s history, public accommodation laws have played a vital role in ensuring that all businesses are open to everyone on a nondiscriminatory basis and that individuals from marginalized communities are not treated like second-class citizens,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The Supreme Court has repeatedly and emphatically rejected challenges to public accommodation laws similar to the challenges brought in the Masterpiece case, and we expect them to do so once again.”
In their brief filed Monday, nine civil rights organizations underscore the importance of public accommodations laws that protect racial, ethnic and religious minorities from discrimination. These organizations express concern that the Masterpiece case could pave the way for businesses to lawfully discriminate against racial and other minorities pursuant to a free speech exemption.
In addition to the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the brief was joined by: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Center for Constitutional Rights, Color of Change, the National Action Network, the NAACP, the National Urban League, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. In their brief, the organizations state:
“Despite the advances our country has made in eradicating segregation and other forms of invidious discrimination, African Americans, including LGBT African Americans who experience discrimination at the intersection of race and sexual orientation, continue to suffer from structural and pervasive discrimination, as evidenced by the recent increase in hate crimes across the country. Discrimination infects the marketplace as well, where minority consumers continue to receive worse treatment and experience disparate access to goods and services as a result of business owners’ biased attitudes. Today, public accommodation laws remain vital by providing relief when consumers of color experience discrimination.”
“We are proud to stand on the right side of history and join this friend of the court brief. It is beyond shameful that the Justice Department that fought against DOMA and supported marriage equality is now advocating for a constitutional right to discriminate against LGBTQ people. Their position runs counter to constitutional principles and recent Supreme Court precedent. This case is not about the cake. It is about dignity, fairness, and equality.” Vanita Gupta, President and CEO, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
“The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund believes that this case presents a direct assault on the civil rights laws, both state and federal, that protect everyone from discrimination. It is imperative that the Supreme Court rejects this effort to undermine the enforcement of those protections central to American society.” Kenneth Kimerling, Legal Director, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
“We’re standing with the LGBTQI community for equality. A ruling permitting discrimination in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission would in effect legalize discrimination against LGBTQI people, women, minority faiths, and people of color. If the Supreme Court allows for a broad exemption in non-discrimination laws for so-called ‘creative’ enterprises, this would open the floodgates for discrimination by other business owners. No one is above the law, and it is our duty to rebuff attempts to legalize discrimination.” Vincent Warren, Executive Director, Center for Constitutional Rights
“Black people continue to face blatant profiling and racial discrimination in public accommodations. We will not stay quiet as businesses seek to roll back critical civil rights laws that we have fought so hard for and that protect our right to participate in the economy free of discrimination.” Rashad Robinson, Executive Director, Color of Change
“Today, we stand united against prejudice and discrimination in any form. Inclusion and equality are what make America great. Public accommodation laws serve a vital role in securing equality for all.” National Action Network’s Washington Bureau
“The NAACP has long advocated for equality in public accommodations, as these laws ensure that businesses treat customers equally. It is against this backdrop that businesses like Masterpiece Cakeshop seek to upend laws that protect some of our most vulnerable communities.” Derrick Johnson, President & CEO, NAACP
“Public accommodation laws protect consumers’ rights to shop wherever they please, no matter their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sex, or sexual orientation. It is unacceptable to suggest that the biased attitudes of business owners deserve more protection than the rights of consumers.” Marc Morial, CEO, National Urban League.

Newswire : NAACP focuses on millennials for future growth

By: Lauren Poteat (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

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 NAACP D.C. Branch President Akosua Ali gives remarks during a press conference during the group’s 108th national convention in Baltimore, Md. (Hamil Harris/NNPA)
As Derrick Johnson assumes the role of interim president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), leaders of the nation’s oldest Black civil rights organization say that young people must come first.
Youth-led civil rights groups like Color of Change, Black Youth Project 100 and Dream Defenders have effectively used technology and social media to advance their causes online and around the world, while critics of the NAACP question the group’s relevancy, as it struggles to connect to a younger generation that doesn’t always relate to the battles of Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
During a press conference held on July 21, kicking off the group’s national convention in Baltimore, Md., many NAACP officials and affiliates gathered to address a critical need to keep millennials active and engaged within the organization.
“We have a responsibility to lift up the least of us, but most importantly to put our hands on the young people,” said Baltimore’s Mayor Catherine Pugh. “We can change the trajectory of our lives. Let’s have some real conversations around guns in the community killing our children, because we need [our children] to grow up and be a part of the future of our nation.”
In order to ensure that such goals come into fruition, NAACP D.C. branch President Akosua Ali, formally announced the launch of a national Next Generation Young Professional Leadership Program to train eligible millennials for leadership roles in the NAACP.
The initiative is in line with the NAACP’s National Youth and College Division that cultivates young, civil rights leaders. Messages promoting the division were prominently displayed during the convention.
“This national convention will be critical in transforming the association,” Ali said. “The Youth and College Division continues to train and cultivate young leaders that are activists within their own community and, because of that, the NAACP will launch a Next Generation Young Professional Leadership Program geared toward training young adults between the ages of 21 and 35,” for positions in the NAACP.
Ali continued: “These positions include, but are not limited to: political action chairs, health chairs, environmental justice chairs and branch leaders. We have been very fortunate to have the support of national and youth board members, who have all given input into what is needed for young people to remain active to remain engaged and to be strong leaders within this organization and we are immensely excited about the future of the NAACP through this program.”
Eager to see the organization grow and move forward, Hiruy Hadgu, an NAACP member from Howard County, Md., shared his views on the organization’s plan to ramp up efforts to actively engage and recruit younger members.
“I joined the NAACP after the 2016 election and was responsible for helping my chapter revamp membership efforts, which proved difficult, as we had a hard time keeping up with who was a member or not…a lot of the processes seemed old and outdated and overall didn’t really seem to engage people,” said Hadgu. “I’m only 31, but with these challenging times, I think it’s very important to really re-engage with the community…especially our youth.”

Newswire : NAACP names Derrick Johnson as Interim President

By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)

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The NAACP has named Derrick Johnson, the vice chairman of their board of directors, the organization’s interim president.
The unanimous decision was made by the executive committee of the board of directors during the Association’s 108th annual convention in Baltimore. The NAACP is the largest and oldest civil rights organization in the U.S. The executive committee of the board is comprised of 14 people.
On May 19, the NAACP board announced that the contract of Cornell William Brooks, the outgoing president, would not be renewed. Brooks’ contract ended on June 30. Brooks began his tenure as NAACP President in May of 2014.
“I am thrilled to announce that my friend and colleague Derrick Johnson has been appointed to interim president and CEO. I could not think of a better, more battle-tested or more qualified individual to guide the NAACP through this transition period,” said Leon Russell, the chairman of the board of the NAACP.
“Derrick’s longtime service with the Association will allow him to take decisive action to deal with daily challenges. He will also serve as the primary spokesman for the NAACP. I have every confidence in Derrick and will support him in this new endeavor every step of the way.”
In a statement released on July 22, Johnson said that it is truly an honor and a privilege to be named the interim president and CEO of an organization that he’s served for decades. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done and we won’t waste any time getting to it. We are facing unprecedented threats to our democracy and we will not be sidelined while our rights are being eroded every day,” said Johnson. “We remain steadfast and immovable, and stand ready on the front lines of the fight forjustice.”
Johnson is a Mississippi native who has a law degree from South Texas College of Law.
As president of the Mississippi NAACP he has led campaigns for voting rights and equitable education. Johnson also managed two bond referendum campaigns in Jackson, Mississippi, that raised $150 million to be used for school building improvement and $65 million toward construction of a new convention center.
He also has had fellowships with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the George Washington University School of Political Management and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is an adjunct professor at Tougaloo College, his alma mater, and guest lecturer at Harvard University.
NAACP to start national listening tour

The NAACP is about to embark on a nationwide listening tour to hear advice on what their focus should be moving forward. NAACP leadership has acknowledged that younger civil rights organizations are getting more traction and attention in a world of social media and faster communications.
The first stop on the NAACP listening tour is Detroit on August 24. The second stop will be San Antonio, Texas in September. The organization’s leadership will “visit a total of seven major cities across the country over the next few months,” according to a press release about the tour.
Johnson will serve as interim president and CEO until a new president is named. Johnson formerly served as vice chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors as well as state president for the Mississippi State Conference NAACP.