NAACP Money Woes Prompt Downsizing

July 7, 2008 - 7:23 PM

(CNSNews.com) - The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is reducing its nationwide staff by about 50 posts and closing some of its regional offices, a spokesman for the liberal-leaning civil rights organization said on Thursday.

"We are right-sizing our organization to meet present circumstances," Interim President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Hayes told The Baltimore Sun.

"All our bills are paid, and there's money in the bank," NAACP communications director Richard McIntyre insisted, but he nonetheless confirmed that the organization will cut its national staff of 119 to 70, through layoffs and attrition.

The NAACP for the time also plans to shut down some of its regional offices, McIntyre said, adding that the final determination of which facilities will close and for how long has not yet been made.

The cutbacks will have no effect on the organization's local branches since they are "their own, autonomous entities" and are mostly run by unpaid volunteers, he explained.

"People talk about the economy being great -- it's great for corporations and whatnot, but a lot of Americans are feeling the pinch," McIntyre said. "There isn't a charity out there that wouldn't hope to have more members or more donations."

Over the past three years, the NAACP has used about $10 million in reserve funds to cover shortfalls in fund-raising campaigns, he said.

"It's the same type of situation where if you find yourself going to your savings more than you would like to, you're going to make changes," McIntyre stated.

But he also said the current situation "should not be compared to the financial crisis that took place back in the 1990s," when the organization fell into debt to the tune of $3.2 million amid accusations of financial mismanagement.

"The NAACP has been around for nearly 100 years, and it will continue to be around," he said. The organization will go ahead with its 98th annual convention, to be held July 7-12 in Detroit. The theme will be "Power Beyond Measure" and the event will include speeches by prominent black leaders and a "funeral" for the "N-word."

'Dinosaur'

While the NAACP attributed the cutbacks to the state of the economy, the leader of a group of black conservatives told Cybercast News Service that the NAACP is "a dinosaur" that needs to "come to grips with the fact that America has changed" since the civil rights movement began in the 1960s.

Mychal Massie, chairman of the black conservative group Project 21, scoffed at McIntyre's explanation for the NAACP's woes.

"[The claim] that this is a great climate for corporations but not individuals and small companies is nothing more than a blind and a dodge to deflect from the reality that the NAACP is a dinosaur," he said.

Massie laid much of the blame for the NAACP's financial problems on Julian Bond, director of the organization's board of directors. Bond, he said, "can find no good thing in society today and still asserts that America is living in the Jim Crow past when nothing could be further from the truth."

"At the same time, they're not addressing the very real ills in the black community: out-of-control abortion, which amounts to nothing more than black genocide; out-of-control single-parent households; out-of-control black-on-black crime; and out-of-control disrespectful, misogynistic behavior directed toward women in rap music," Massie said.

"Instead, they are stuck in the antediluvian mantra of days past where 'white people are out to get us.' And that is wearing thin," he said.

'Move into the 21st century'

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, the NAACP isn't the only civil rights organization to have financial troubles. Also, not all of the NAACP's recent problems have been financial in nature.

In 2004, the NAACP was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) after Bond said during the organization's annual convention that the presidential election that year was a contest between "two widely disparate views" of who Americans are and what they believe.

Nearly two years later, the IRS cleared the NAACP of charges of "partisan political activity" in violation of the group's non-profit, tax-exempt status.

Also in 2004, NAACP President and CEO Kweisi Mfume resigned and ran unsuccessfully for one of Maryland's seats in the U.S. Senate.

Several months later, Mfume was succeeded by retired Verizon executive Bruce Gordon, who served in the post for only 19 months before abruptly stepping down last March. During an interview with the Baltimore Sun newspaper on Thursday, he cited "ideological differences" with the board as his reason for leaving the organization.

Gordon's departure came at an especially bad time for the NAACP, which was engaged in an effort to raise $20 million to move the organization's headquarters from Baltimore, Md., to nearby Washington, D.C. That project has since been postponed.

Rather than relocate to the nation's capital, Massie said the NAACP should "move into the 21st century and come to grips with the fact that America has changed" over the past few decades.

He said the NAACP should also "stop preaching the message of divisiveness that blacks have it so much worse than anybody else. That is simply not a productive message to encourage people to take advantage of the wealth of opportunity that is available for us."

"The NAACP should tell blacks that America is your home, America is what you make of it," Massie added. Blacks must also be prepared to embrace the future "through two-parent households and education that puts more emphasis on math and science than on basketball and football."

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