By Lauren Victoria Burke (NNPA Newswire Contributor)
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.