Changes at National Urban League & NAACP Signal Changes in Civil Rights Movement
What’s happening in the national Civil Rights Movement?
Bruce Gordon, the head of the NAACP, announced his resignation today. He is at odds with the NAACP’s board because he wants to focus more on social services, while the board wants to maintain the group’s more traditional role as an advocacy organization.
I believe that Bruce Gordon is dead-on in wanting to connect advocacy to tangible social services on the ground. An example of a two-pronged approach to this would be lobbying against police brutality (advocating) while at the same time training Black men on how to deal with the police (social service through training). I pray that Gordon’s departure does not mean that such a program would not be possible from the NAACP.
The Chicago Urban League last week announced that it is rolling out a new agenda focusing less on social services and more on economic empowerment. The National Urban League has over the years been transitioning from its roots as a economically-focused organization to one that has taken on more social services, but this represents a change in tactics and a return towards its initial goals at its founding.
I believe that the Urban League was heading down a great path by combining their economic and social agendas. An example of a two-pronged approach to this that I worked with last year was an after-school program for high school students (social service) that trained them on how to be entrepreneurs (economic empowerment). I pray that Chicago and other Urban Leagues around the coutry’s shift in focus does not mean that such a program would not be possible from them in the future.
What does this mean? I think it signals that a split in the movement that has existed since its beginnings still exists today. The question is, why are social services and economic empowerment treated as two ideals that cannot be strived for simultaneously?