NAACP Cancels Donald Sterling Honor, But Their Relationship Goes Beyond One Award

April 28, 2014  |  

The Donald Sterling controversy just keeps growing since a recording was released of the L.A. Clippers owner allegedly engaged in a racist rant. And it’s not just players and sponsors who are pulling back on their support. Sterling was to be honored by none other than the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP but the organization has canceled the honor as well. He was to receive a lifetime achievement award at its May 15 event.

“He is not receiving a lifetime achievement award from the NAACP,” Lorraine Miller, NAACP interim vice president, told NBC’s Meet the Press. The NAACP also sent tweets to this effect.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Rev. Al Sharpton were to  receive the organization’s first “person of the year” awards at the event. “In light of recent events, we will be discussing this event with the Los Angeles NAACP,” Garcetti’s spokesman Yusef Robb said.

According to the Clippers, there’s still a question about whether the man recorded is Sterling. The remarks have prompted an investigation by the NBA.

Although Sterling has been known to help various minority groups and organizations, there have also been a number of unfavorable allegations against him. NBA great Elgin Baylor had a wrongful-termination lawsuit against the Clippers in which he claimed he was harassed and subjected to age discrimination and called the environment there a “plantation mentality.” This he said led to his 2008 departure after 22 years as a Clippers executive. Baylor, however, dropped the race allegations from his suit in 2011.

Sterling and his wife, Rochelle, made a settlement of more than $2.7 million to end allegations that they discriminated against African Americans, Latinos and families with children at apartment buildings they own in and around Los Angeles, reports The Los Angeles Times. This was the largest ever settlement by the Justice Department in a housing discrimination case concerning apartment rentals. In total, the Sterlings’ insurers agreed to put $2.625 million into a fund for victims who were allegedly harmed by their discriminatory practices. In that case, one of Sterling’s property supervisors said he made racist comments, Business Insider tells us, and that same person said Sterling remarked that a black tenant who complained about a drainage problem should be evicted. He’s also been accused of using the “N” word and, separately but awfully, denying $70,000 for a coach’s prostate cancer surgery. The players chipped in for it. Oh, and paying a mistress for sex.

As for the NAACP’s involvement with Sterling, Leon Jenkins, president of the organization’s LA chapter, gave a press conference this morning in which he addressed their relationship. According to Talking Points Memo, Jenkins said he was still unsure about whose voice is on the tape and the chapter will return donations that Sterling made. He didn’t disclose how much those donations were.

“We looked at the body of work that he’s done. What we looked at all of the sports franchises in L.A. We look at how involved all these organizations in the community,” by way of explanation or accepting the donations. “His organizations gave more money to the minority community.” Moreover, Jenkins said that all of this, now and in the past, is just “rumors.”

“If there are rumors and stuff, that doesn’t factor into our decisions,” Jenkins said. Sterling’s charitable foundation has given money and tons of Clippers tickets to the organization, TPM says. The chapter had already given Sterling an award back in 2009.

“There is room for forgiveness,” Jenkins said.

You can click here to read statements from the NAACP’s interim president and CEO Lorraine Miller and from Rosalyn Brock, the organization’s chairman of the board of directors.

Additional contribution by Tonya Garcia


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