By Ruth Ferguson, NDG Editor
In Baltimore at the NAACP’s annual conference the historical civil rights group announced the selection of Derrick Johnson as the interim president and CEO. Johnson formerly served as vice chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors as well as State President for the Mississippi State Conference NAACP.
“I am thrilled to announce that my friend and colleague Derrick Johnson has been appointed to interim president and CEO. I could not think of a better, more battle-tested or more qualified individual to guide the NAACP through this transition period,” Leon Russell, Board Chairman of the NAACP said via a statement issued.
Many hope Johnson will help to steer the civil rights to a more nimble organization able to respond to the questions that can arise from a single tweet or Facebook live video. It troubles supporters such as NDG’s senior columnist Ed Gray to see others led the charge in recent years on topics such as police brutality. In his recent column, Gray posed the question if the NAACP is still relevant.
“Derrick’s longtime service with the Association will allow him to take decisive action to deal with daily challenges. He will also serve as the primary spokesman for the NAACP. I have every confidence in Derrick and will support him in this new endeavor every step of the way,” Russell added.
This sounds good but does the organization need someone who simply addresses challenges the same old way or someone with a new vision?
When the NAACP surprised many by dismissing Cornell Williams Brooks in May, they promised a “system-wide refresh” and Johnson was appointed to handle day to day operations. Groups such as Black Lives Matter dominated the headlines during the presidential election in 2016 and with so many organizations vehemently opposing the policies of President Donald Trump. The president declined an invitation from the NAACP to appear at the 108th annual conference this week.
“It’s extremely unfortunate that during these pressing and urgent times, the President has chosen to turn his back on the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization – though I must admit, his refusal to attend our convention is not totally unexpected,” Russell said on Friday.