Our NAACP Problem

In this photo taken April 28, 2014, Leon Jenkins, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP, announces that Los Angeles Clippers basketball team owner Donald Sterling will not be receiving his lifetime achievement award, at a news conference in Culver City, Calif. Jenkins has his own legal problems, which are coming into focus now that the NBA has banned Sterling for racist comments. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)


In light of the Donald Stirling controversy, Leon Jenkins has stepped down from his position as president of the Los Angeles NAACP.

I believe in second chances, but am ambivalent about the fact that he is prohibited from practicing law in California and Michigan. I would feel differently if the disbarment was related to civil rights activities, but his judicial misconduct appears to cover bribes, insurance fraud —

a note here. I have dear relatives who also use other addresses because of preferential rates for certain zip codes. But the response to this cannot be insurance fraud. We have to fight to get the laws changed.

but I digress —

Here’s the breakdown from the State Bar of California:

The court found that he accepted bribes to dismiss traffic citations, intentionally misstated his address to get a reduction in his auto insurance premiums, solicited an individual for whom he fixed traffic tickets to commit perjury in a federal investigation of Jenkins’ conduct, engaged in improper communications with parties and counsel regarding matters coming before him, improperly accepted gifts and favors from litigants and counsel who appeared before him, and signed a writ of habeas corpus to release from custody someone he believed to be a close friend without adequate information about the case.

True enough, Mr. Jenkins wasn’t convicted in two federal trials. And that is unusual. The feds have an uncomfortably high success rate. However, this is more than a bit dodgy.

So some are angry that he accepted money from Stirling. Just like people were mad at Tavis Smiley for taking money from WalMart.

I don’t agree with accepting either of these donations, but there are bigger questions here. Where is the money to come from? Why the brain drain?

So many hold the main line civil rights organizations in contempt. Until someone needs to speak. To act. Then …

The very best leaders should be willing to spend some time helping to build, maintain and sustain these organizations. In many places, the NAACP is the only game in town for a ghost of a chance of seeking justices. Sadly, I see more and more consistent commitment to the Music Center and Tournament of Roses than I do to the NAACP. And I include myself in this critique.  My support has been sporadic.

If we don’t support the organizations that are vital to responding to situations like these, what can we expect? If they can’t get the best talent, then what?







About liftingasweclimb

Mildred Lewis writes and directs for theater, television, film and the web. She's also a full time professor, Christian, activist and troublemaker with a passion to save as much of the world as she can.
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