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Is the NAACP In Need of Overhaul?

The NAACP, America’s oldest civil rights group, is replacing its president, Cornell William Brooks, and planning a “transformational retooling,” according to the group’s board of directors. 

Brooks, who has been the president of the NAACP for three years, will not be retained once his contract is up at the end of June, the chairman and vice chair of the board of directors say.

The NAACP says the change is part of “an organization-wide refresh.”

The group is changing its structure and tactics in response to what it calls “audacious challenges” and “today’s volatile political, media and social climates.”

Brooks has been a high-profile leader of the group, engaging in protests — even getting arrested during a sit-in.

The search for a new leader of the group will start immediately, chairman Leon Russell and vice chair Derrick Johnson told reporters on a conference call.

In the meantime, Russell and Johnson will handle day to day operations, they say, and carry out a listening tour.

“We want to be informed by those who are the people we serve,” Russell said. “And to do so we have to see them, we have to meet them, and we have to listen to them.”

Explaining the choice to replace Brooks, Russell and Johnson didn’t identify a particular thing that Brooks had done wrong — or even one thing that the NAACP, as a whole, had been doing wrong.

But they said the group needs to be stronger in advocacy and education, and better equipped to support local activism.

Brooks told the New York Times he was “baffled” by the choice not to extend his contract.

The NAACP, once the most prominent voice for the rights of black Americans, has recently been accused of losing relevance as new groups — like the Black Lives Matter movement — take the spotlight.

In 2015, NPR’s Adrian Florido reported on the generational shift, noting that Brooks gave a speech forcefully rebutting the idea that the NAACP is out of date:

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Source: NPR |