The National Association of the Advancement of Colored People
Almost 500,000 Americans of all races are members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the largest civil rights organization in the world and probably the largest secular citizens action agency in the nation. Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the oldest civil rights organization as well as the most powerful and the most respected today. The NAACP is the national spokesperson for black Americans and other minorities, and for those who support civil rights objectives in America. Organized in virtually every city and town where black Americans reside, the NAACP both articulates the grievances of black Americans and protects their rights by whatever legal means necessary (Join the NAACP). Many manners are used by the NAACP to accomplish their policy goals. Three such manners are grassroots activism, lobbying, and educating.
Marches, protests, canvassing, phone calls, and demonstrations are only a few devices used by the NAACP in their fight for equal rights (McBride). In October 1998, NAACP President and CEO Kweisi Mfume and eighteen other activists were arrested during a mass demonstration to protest the “shameful and hypocritical record” of the Supreme Court Justices in hiring minority clerks. The protest was held in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., with the crowd shouting “No justice, no peace” (“Activists Arrested”). The Justices up to that point had hired only seven black Americans out of 428 clerks. Groups that participated in the demonstration included the National Bar Association, the United Auto Workers, the National Organization for Women, as well as many others (“Activists Arrested”). Mfume also participated in a protest rally March 18, 1999, in front of New York City’s Police Headquarters to decry the police killing of 22-year-old Amadou Diallo, an unarmed immigrant, the previous month. Mfume was expecting “direct, immediate action by the White House, the U.S. Justice Department and the NY Mayor’s Office” (“NY Protest”). On November 9, 1999, Florida Governor Jeb Bush “empowered the Board of Regents and the Florida Legislature to do away with Affirmative Action” with the proposal of the One Florida Initiative (Haggard). A coalition of civil rights, labor, women’s rights, federal and state legislators, and religious leaders called for a March on Tallahassee in order to demonstrate the amount of support that affirmative action has in the state. This is only done following a 25-hour sit-in led by Florida State Senator Kendrick Meek and Representative Tony Hill January 18-19, 2000. That sit-in ended when Governor Bush agreed to three public hearings on his One Florida Initiative (Haggard). For Election Day 2000, the Data Retrieval Team (DART) became foot canvassers. This team was composed of volunteers who walked from house to house putting up door hangers/sample ballots and trying to influence the people at the doors to vote (“Election”). The homes targeted were not only those of black Americans, but of other minorities as well (Hilary).
Since 1914, the NAACP Legislative Report Card has functioned as a presentation of significant civil rights votes taken in the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. This Report Card is intended to supply citizens with insight into the general voting habits of their congressional representatives and delegations. The latest edition contains votes taken from the 106th Congress through July 10, 2000. The Report Card provides legislation descriptions from both Houses, whether it passed or failed, and whether the NAACP agreed with or opposed the legislation. It also lists all Senators and Representatives, whether they voted for or against the NAACP position on legislation, and a grade based on the percentage of percentage of votes in agreement with the NAACP. Not surprisingly, most Democrats got A’s or B’s, and Republicans got D’s or F’s. The NAACP Washington Bureau, the department that specializes in lobbying, is in charge of this Legislative Report Card (Hilary). Since becoming the bureau director in 1997, Hilary Shelton has been responsible for advocating the NAACP agenda in Congress. The Bureau releases testimony with reference to hearings on certain bills. For example, they published Harold McDougall’s testimony at a hearing about including multiracial categories in the United States Census. Shelton has been pushing Congress to pass the Traffic Stops