Life After Ben Jealous: Is The NAACP Ready For A Black Woman President?

September 12, 2013  |  

With Ben Jealous stepping down as head of NAACP after turning things around for the historic black civil rights organization, many are wondering who will be able to fill his shoes.

Salon‘s Brittney Cooper ponders whether it is time that a women head the NAACP, which was founded in 1909 and is America’s oldest black civil rights group. There have been women in high-profile slots before, such as Myrlie Evers-Williams who chaired the Board of the Directors in the mid-1990s. But the NAACP has yet to be helmed by a black woman.

“Though African American culture is still enamored with charismatic race men, the NAACP can send a great signal that a change has come by choosing an African American woman to head the organization. That only one woman in more than a century has had the opportunity is shameful,” writes Cooper. Even when Jealous, known for his progressive thinking, spoke about the need for new leadership, he failed to mention Evers-Williams as a possibility.

According to Cooper, a former NAACP youth chapter vice-president and college chapter officer, if NAACP  is to remain relevant, the time is now to put a woman in charge.

“Though African-American culture is still enamored with charismatic race men, the NAACP can send a great signal that a change has come by choosing an African-American woman to head the organization…,” writes Cooper. “Despite the fact that black women are one of the most politically engaged demographics particularly regarding racial issues, having disproportionately outvoted all other demographics in the 2008 presidential campaign, there is still a strident distrust of black women running movements.”

In fact, in 2012 for first time on record, the voting rate for black women surpassed that of whites,  driven in significant part by more votes from black women, reports The New York Times.

Due to increasing power black women are flexing on the political front, it would be only fitting that a black women take over at the NAACP.

Among Cooper’s suggestions are:

Stefanie Brown James, a former national field director and youth and college director of the NAACP and the director of African-American voting for the Obama 2012 campaign. She is known for her talent of  energizing people.

Aisha Moodie-Mills, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, who, writes Cooper, “melds LGBT activism with a host of progressive causes, would represent a significant organizational shift.”

Maya Wiley, president of the Center for Social Inclusion. She’s also a civil rights attorney and public advocate and previoulsy, she worked for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Sherrilyn Ifill, a professor and attorney who was recently named president and counsel-director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (a separate entity).

Julianne Malveaux, economist, social commentator and former Bennett College president.

Who do you think would be a great choice to lead the NAACP?

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