NAACP (National Site)

WASHINGTON ( – The NAACP, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization—scored an impressive list of victories by the time its 97th annual convention adjourned here on July 20.

President George Bush ended five years of declining repeated invitations to speak to the group, by urging Senate passage of the 25-year renewal of provisions of the Voting Rights Act; by promising to sign the legislation when passed; and by honoring the contributions of slaves to the very “founding” of this country.


The organization’s 5,000 conventioneers arrived in Washington even as the Senate was debating the Voting Rights Act renewal. NAACP members fanned all across the U.S. Capitol, visiting senators, urging swift renewal of the legislation, which was set to expire in 2007. The Senate voted to renew the act 98-0 on July 20, the last day of the convention. The House had passed the renewal one week earlier 390-33.

While the President recited his conservative political message full of clichés and slogans supporting charter schools and vouchers; his Faith Based Initiative; and his “Ownership Society;” he also showed a surprising honesty about Blacks and the Republican Party, and about the significant contributions made to this country by slaves. “When people talk about America’s founders, they mention the likes of Washington and Jefferson and Franklin and Adams,” said Mr. Bush. “Too often they ignore another group of founders — men and women and children who did not come to America of their free will, but in chains. These founders literally helped build our country. They chopped the wood, they built the homes, they tilled the fields and they reaped the harvest. They raised children of others, even though their own children had been ripped away and sold to strangers.

“Nearly 200 years into our history as a nation, America experienced a second founding: the Civil Rights movement. Some of those leaders are here. These second founders, led by the likes of Thurgood Marshall and Martin Luther King, Jr. believed in the constitutional guarantees of liberty and equality. They trusted fellow Americans to join them in doing the right thing. They were leaders. They toppled Jim Crow through simple deeds: boarding a bus, walking along the road, showing up peacefully at courthouses or joining in prayer and song. Despite the sheriff’s dogs, and the jailer’s scorn, and the hangman’s noose, and the assassin’s bullets, they prevailed.”

But in his address opening the convention, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond on the other hand, once again spelled out the group’s harsh criticism of the first president since Warren Harding, to not address the NAACP. Mr. Bush’s administration had: “run the country into the ground…continued an assault on our civil liberties and civil rights, orchestrated a massive transfer of wealth from the bottom to the top, increased poverty every year they’ve been in office, created dangerous deficits, substituted religion for science, ignored global warming and wrecked environmental protections.”

More than 74 years after the organization started, but failed to honor militant abolitionist John Brown as a man who “aimed at human slavery, a blow that woke a guilty nation,” the organization actually began its 2006 convention in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, by completing that tribute which was first led by Dr. W.E.B. DuBois.

This year, the 100th anniversary of the founding, also in Harpers Ferry—of the Niagra Movement, Bond laid a tablet with the original wording honoring Mr. Brown: “With him fought seven slaves and sons of slaves. Over his crucified corpse marched 200,000 Black soldiers and 4,000,000 freedmen singing ‘John Brown’s body lies a-moldering in the grave, but his soul goes marching on!’”