Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Civil Rights Activist Julian Bond serves last term as NAACP Chairman - Who will lead the Organization into the future?

After 10 years of volunteer service as the NAACP National Board Chairman Julian Bond, 68, announced he would not seek reelection when his term ends in February 2009.

"This is the time for renewal. We have dynamic new leadership. The country has a new President in Barack Obama; the organization has a new CEO in Benjamin Jealous, and we'll soon have a new Chairman of the NAACP Board. The NAACP and the country are in good hands," he added.

In a letter to Board members, Bond wrote that he would not run for reelection as Chairman of the National Board, however he will remain on the Board. He also intends to run for reelection to the Board when his three-year Board term ends. "It has always been my plan to serve until the Centennial and it will be underway in February when my term ends," said Bond. "I'm not resigning, I'm just not running for reelection," he added.

Board members and officers to the National NAACP Board are volunteer, elected positions. The Chairmanship is a one-year term and Board members serve a three-year term.

For Bond, this decision was part of a life change. "Being Chairman has been a wonderful honor however, it has been more time demanding than anything I've ever done. I'm ready to let a new generation of leaders lead," he said.

"We appreciate Chairman Bond's commitment and look forward to his continued active involvement on the Board," said Benjamin Todd Jealous.

Bond was elected as the Chairman of the Board in 1998. In 2002, Bond was awarded the National Freedom Award, a prestigious award whose recipients in past years include Jackie Robinson, Bill Clinton, Oprah Winfrey and Rosa Parks.


My Thoughts:
With Chairman Bond moving out of the leadership role, the NAACP must now face the future and decide who will lead this historic organization. Thankfully, we have within out ranks a number of highly qualified and passionate leaders who could step in at a moments notice and provide leadership and guidance for the Board. However, in this period of profound change, when the Zeitgeist is so clearly tilting towards a new American dialogue, we should perhaps focus less on which "leader" we wish to support and focus more on which "direction" we wish to travel.

The American paradigm is shifting. Certainly racism and discrimination still exist, but perhaps the time has come when we as a body should be defined by what we are fighting for, and not for what we are fighting against. That is the language of progress. And as our Nation, struggles to redefine itself and its image, under the leadership of our newly elected 48 year old African-American President; we should aspire to be a part of that defining process. Moreover, we should be willing to mirror a similar process of self-examination and redefinition as well. For if even America can change, so should we...

For these reasons I was overjoyed with the selection of our new NAACP President Benjamin Jealous. While he certainly holds a bevy of Civil Rights bonifides, he more significantly represents the possibility that we might reinvent ourselves and our image into one more in sync with our current slate of challenges and opportunities. His fledgling efforts to reach out and connect to the blogging community, to incorporate new media, and new technologies are surely hopeful indicators that the change we need is at hand.

And in this light, I see the coming departure of Chairman Bond as a blessing as well. While our organization has benefited greatly from the steady hand and stewardship of a true Civil Rights Legend, his perfectly timed departure (coinciding with the NAACP's 100th anniversary) opens the door for new ideas and new possibilities that would help us to accelerate and complete our transformation.

Now, in this spirit of change that has swept the nation, the time has come for us to stand at the potters wheel and fashion ourselves into the vehicle needed to realize the changes we all seek. Now is the the time that we should look within and find those New champions who can lead us through tomorrows paces. Now is the time to reach out towards a New vision. Now is the time not to look for the person who best represents the NAACP we've always been, but to find that person who best represents the NAACP we wish to become. We can ill-afford to maintain the model of the NAACP we all knew as children; we must be bold and visionary as we create a new model of the NAACP that our children will come to know.

This is Roslyn Brock's time... This is Benjamin Jealous' time... This is Jacob Frimpong's time... This is Audrey Lamysairre's time... This is Charles White's time... This is John Jackson's time... This is Mary Brown's time... This is Casey Thomas' time.. This is Chris Smitherman's time... This is Tammi Davis' time... This is the time to celebrate all that we accomplished yesterday, while building a brand new tomorrow...

Chairman Bond, as an NAACP Branch President, as an NAACP member, and even moreso as a young African-American man; I could never thank you enough for your years of dedicated service to our community. My life and the lives of my children are better because of Your efforts, Your words, and Your sacrifices, and we will never forget that. You are a true champion of the people, and I only aspire to make a difference in the way that you done. Thank you for all that you have so graciously given...

Vice-Chair Brock, suit up! Tomorrow is waiting for you, and we're going to help you meet it...

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