Lead Story West Edition

NAACP brings national listening tour to L.A.

LOS ANGELES — The new national leadership team of the NAACP comes to Los Angeles Oct. 26 as part of its national listening tour.

A public meeting is planned from 5 to 7 p.m. at the LAX Marriott Hotel, 5855 W. Century Blvd.

Entitled NAACP Forward: Today, Tomorrow and Always, the tour will include Derrick Johnson, the new president and CEO of the organization; Leon Russell, the chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors; and Alice Huffman, president of the California Hawaii NAACP and a national board member.

They have invited the leadership and members of local NAACP branches as well as college students and youth leaders.

In a released statement, Russell said the NAACP Forward national listening tour is the best way to go to hear and address the concerns of its members and the various communities at large.

“Our impetus for today’s NAACP is to effectively reach our dedicated staff and members, community organizers, activists, faith and business leaders, social justice advocates and others, to address the issues and challenges that face African Americans, and our communities,” Russell said.

“I firmly believe that this tour will expand our reach, touch our people, engage more diverse audiences and reinforce our focus on civil rights in this age of great political and social uncertainty,” Johnson said. “The national Listening Tour, NAACP Forward, is a critical step in looking ahead and achieving our objectives.”

Plans for the national listening tour began in July during the NAACP’s annual convention in Baltimore. At that time, the board removed Cornell William Brooks as national president, replacing him with Johnson.

The country’s oldest civil rights organization has developed a new strategic plan to enhance its vision and mission, and to renew its commitment to the fight for civil rights amid a swirling climate of political hostility, voter suppression, income inequality, mass incarceration, police brutality and anti-immigrant sentiment.

With the rise of Black Lives Matter and other more militant organizations, the NAACP leadership is trying to move the organization ahead. Some in the black community, including members of Black Lives Matter, view the NAACP as completely irrelevant. In recent years, the organization’s effectiveness has come into question.

Along with the public meetings, NAACP Forward also will include smaller discussions in the city to better understand the perspective of its membership, local community leaders, activists and others.

“In his time serving as our interim president and CEO, Derrick Johnson has proven himself as the strong, decisive leader we need to guide us through both our internal transition, as well as a crucial moment in our nation’s history,” Russell said. “With new threats to communities of color emerging daily and attacks on our democracy, the NAACP must be more steadfast than ever before, and Derrick has the vision, mobility and courage to help us meet that demand.”

Johnson has already said the NAACP will be a lot more political than it had been in the past.

The listening tour will continue in Nashville next month with future stops already planned for Des Moines, Iowa; San Antonio, Texas; and Washington, D.C.