December 19, 2004


Rights Groups Reassess Strategies: Black, Hispanic Organizations to Undergo Leadership Changes (Darryl Fears, December 19, 2004, Washington Post)

At year's end, the leaders of the nation's largest African American and Hispanic civil rights organizations will step down on the same day -- a first. But despite the common timing, the transitions highlight differences in the two organizations' outlooks and agendas.

The National Council of La Raza has already chosen Janet Murguia, a former University of Kansas administrator, to replace departing president Raul Yzaguirre. The NAACP, the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization, is searching for a successor to Kweisi Mfume, who announced his resignation Nov. 30. [...]

At the NAACP, the committee searching for Mfume's successor is being led by Julian Bond, the organization's chairman, who dismissed recent reports that his fiery rhetoric did not mesh with his president's attempts at diplomacy. [...]

The day after this year's U.S. presidential election, for example, Mfume sought to end the chilly relationship between the White House and the NAACP with a congratulatory letter. But Bond had repeatedly disparaged Bush and his party over the years -- in the days leading up to November's voting, he said the Republicans "draw their most rabid supporters from the Taliban wing of American politics" -- and now the IRS is investigating whether his remarks during the campaign violated the NAACP's tax-exempt status.

Ronald Walters, director of the African American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland, suggested that Mfume, whose fundraising acumen helped lift the NAACP out of millions in debt in the mid-1990s, was too diplomatic, and that a leader more like Bond was needed at a time when, he said, the White House sought to politically marginalize African Americans. [...]

At La Raza, a change in strategy is in the works. Yzaguirre, the group's president for more than 30 years, approached issues and politics with direct confrontation. "My posture has been we are going to award our friends and come down on our enemies," Yzaguirre said. "We are going to speak out on [Bush's] policies if they hurt our people."

But Murguia, who served as deputy director for legislative affairs for the Clinton White House and as a liaison between the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign and constituent groups in 2000, said she is planning to improve La Raza's relations with the White House.

"One of the first lessons you learn in Washington is you have to work with people on both sides of the aisle," she said. "I am certainly going to take every opportunity I can to reach out to this administration."

When other Hispanic groups criticized Bush's decision to appoint White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, a Mexican American, as attorney general, La Raza praised the chance to see a Latino in such a powerful role. The group also welcomed the president's choice of Carlos M. Gutierrez, a Cuban American and the former chief executive officer of Kellogg Co., to run the Commerce Department.

"I've been very happy with some of the Cabinet choices that have been made," Murguia said. "I'm an advocate for the Hispanic community."

Only the NAACP could manage to make the black civil rights movement even more marginal than it is today.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 19, 2004 12:37 PM

OJ: What tickles me about La Raza (as hostile to traditional American values as an organization can get) is that Hispanics, unlike Blacks, are not by any stretch of the imagination a race. They are united only by the fact that they are the descendents of Spanish settlers and conqueres and therefore Spanish-speaking peoples, Catholic, etc. Many of them are of mixed race (I am not, but it wouldn't bother me in the least if I were.) Naming their extremist organization "The Race" shows what they are about: copping minority status on the basis of race. Good luck. By the time they realize the impossibility of that, most so-called Hispanics (Latin peoples of North, Central American and the Caribbean [Cuban-Americans]), will be voting Jeb Bush for president.

The blacks of America are a largely myiscegenetic group as well, however, they have a lot more trouble "passing as white" (not that they should want to or need to at all, please.)

My family call La Raza "La Rata" -- the Rat. They hate it when you do that, so do it often.

Posted by: geo at December 19, 2004 1:59 PM

A few years ago I read an Op-Ed piece in a USA Today I got for free in a hotel, whether I wanted it or not. The columnist, a Hispanic from San Marcos, Texas, complained bitterly that Hispanics were naming their kids Tiffany and Jason, not Jose' or Lupe.

The moral of the story is that you shouldn't let groups like La Raza upset you. They are a safe place for 5th rate academics from 4th rate schools like that Chicano Studies professor(Trujillo, yo creo?) from New Mexico Highlands University to hang out without having to touch too many sharp implements. And most Hispanic Americans see them to be about as relevant as the Society for the Restoration of the Wittlesbach. (the pre-WWI Bavarian royal family)

Posted by: Bart at December 19, 2004 2:40 PM

Don't write off all blacks, only those who still cling to the slave/master culture of the NAACP and other black "leaders." When the money dries up, these people will have to get a real job.

Bill Cosby isn't the only black who thinks like he does. He's just rich enough and old enough to get away with telling the truth.

There are many blacks in the middle class, in the professional class and the upper class who don't buy what the poverty pimps are selling. The difference is you haven't heard their voices in the MSM. Watch for things to change much faster now. Information is moving at the speed of sound and if you don't want to get knocked over by it, join in or get out of the way.

Posted by: erp at December 19, 2004 4:13 PM

W just got 11%

Posted by: oj at December 19, 2004 4:31 PM


Sadly, to my observation the vast majority of Blacks who don't drink the NAACP Kool-Aid are West Indian and African immigrants and their kids. A major exception are military people.

Posted by: Bart at December 19, 2004 4:57 PM

Julian Bond has used that asinine Taliban line how many times now?

Posted by: Paul Cella at December 19, 2004 9:27 PM

Bart's on to something. The pattern for immigrants has been to "become White" as soon as this may be possible. African-West Indians and African-Africans are no exception. African-Americans present a whole other set of issues.

For one thing, their movement toward assimilation after emancipation was rebuffed, unjustly, which gave rise to an undrstandable alienation. Also their organizational leaders are in the business of alienation. For the rest of Americans of all races, cultural and econonmic assimilation is an ideal goal. For the NAACP it is unemployment.

Posted by: at December 19, 2004 10:01 PM