Hello friends. It’s (mostly) good to be back. Last week, I was down in sunny Florida on a vacation/business trip. The awesome 70-degree temps made me question just why I choose to live in Chicago. But, to be fair, I lived in the Orlando area for three years back in the late ’90s, and I determined then that I can only handle Florida in limited doses–and when those doses are experienced during the dead of winter, that’s even better. 🙂
I appreciated the wonderful conversation that was happening here in my absence. I’m blessed to have so many thoughtful and passionate folks dropping by to chime in on the issues. I’m still learning the ins and outs of blogging, but I do know I’m thankful to have met so many new friends who share a heart for biblical diversity and reconciliation.
While my family and I were away, I heard the news that Bruce Gordon, president of the NAACP, had resigned from his post after only a year and a half on the job. Seems Gordon’s vision for expanding the organization’s work beyond classic civil rights activism put him into conflict with the group’s board.
Gordon came to the NAACP from corporate America, and brought a more pragmatic, entrepreneurial impulse to his role as president. Apparently, the NAACP board (led by Julian Bond) felt his philosophy clashed with the 98-year-old organization’s primary mission.
Chicago Tribune columnist Clarence Page offers a thought-provoking commentary on the matter. Page, an African American, has never been accused of being a conservative, but he suggests Bond and his crew may be in desperate need of a paradigm shift. He writes:
Gordon understood something that NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and numerous others in the organization’s breathtakingly huge 64-member board refuse to face: White racism is not the biggest problem holding back the advancement of people of color.
Page goes on to list what he considers the more urgent threats to the black community today–undereducated students, drug abuse, disease, and imprisonment. But one line that really caught my attention was a quote by Julian Bond. In response to Gordon’s resignation, Bond said:
There are many organizations that provide social services. We say, “good for them.” But we are one of the very few that provide social justice. It is popular to say that we are in a post-civil rights period, but we don’t believe that.
In Reconciliation Blues, I and others do refer to this current era as a “post-civil rights period.” But Julian Bond is not alone in his opinion. Just check out this interview from NPR’s News & Notes. I’m wondering, what is your take on all of this? Would we be better off discarding the traditional civil rights language and methodology? Is the NAACP hopelessly stuck in an archaic way of thinking? Or should we not be so quick to dismiss the continued relevance of the civil rights movement? And what role should the church be playing in all of this? As usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts.