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Tell us why Jealous is a bad choice

June 14, 2008|By Guy Djoken

As a proud member on the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP, I was saddened by Jonathan Burrs' one-sided article "Small wonder NAACP is struggling" in the June 7 Herald-Mail. The fact that the NAACP, like many other historical groups and churches, is facing difficulties is not reason enough to justify what I see as a one-sided column.

After reading Burrs' piece, I made it a point to read all relevant news in major papers following the promotion of Benjamin Todd Jealous as the new NAACP president. I wonder if Burrs took the time to read Jealous' bio and accomplishments. When Burrs writes: "Clearly, the manner of Jealous' ascension to the helm of the NAACP negates the most fundamental concept of democracy," I wonder if he has substantial arguments to back his claim.

The NAACP, just like any other organization, does have rules that must be followed. Please pick up an NAACP constitution and take a look at the bylaws, then get back with us with any inconsistency with fundamental principles of democracy or any violation of the rules by NAACP Chairman Julian Bond during this process, or by any other board member.

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That will be relevant if you are serious in making your case. It is true that the election process was not unanimous and many board members sitting on the executive committee expressed some level of frustration and dissatisfaction, as is the case in elections all over the U.S. That did not make it "a negation of fundamental concepts of democracy?"

Burrs' last sentence, "I ask Mr. Jealous not who is the puppet master, but instead, who is the ventriloquist's dummy," is what I find repugnant, irresponsible and unsubstantiated. Objectivity does not allow you to extrapolate, from the fact that the process was not perfect, the claim, without evidence, that the new NAACP president is "the ventriloquist's dummy."

Burrs is known for writing objective pieces, but this kind of diatribe really puts a big question mark on his credibility and objectivity. If Burrs has anything from Jealous' background and bio that make him believe he is not up to the task, please let us know.

If not, I will invite him to do what many of us are doing right now - giving him a warm congratulation for his new job, as we develop a strategy to make our local NAACP branches more relevant to address issues our brothers and sisters are facing daily.

To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy, Ask not what the national NAACP has done for you, but rather what you have done to make your local branch a relevant and articulate actor at the forefront of civil rights and social justice in your community.

Many branches across the nation, just like the Frederick County branch that I proudly serve, can point to concrete results in recent months that make us proud to carry and display our NAACP membership cards.

Guy Djoken is president of the Frederick County NAACP.

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