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NAACP Chairman Julian Bond (L) and NAACP President Bruce Gordon (R) applaud former U.S. President George W. Bush, after Bush announced support for renewal of the Voting Rights Act in 2006.
African Americans do not speak with one voice, but they do have an organization that for over 100 years has worked to have the many voices of blacks heard. This week that group, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is meeting in Los Angeles, highlighting the challenges and promise facing its members. As the nation pulls itself out of recession, slow economic growth and a disproportionately high unemployment rate for blacks continues to keep some families at risk for losing their homes and struggling to keep food on the table. On the political side, states are in the process of redistricting, threatening traditional boundaries that have protected minority voting blocks. The Voting Rights Act is threatened in several states as new restrictions are being put on voters, such as having to show photo I.D. before casting a ballot. And as the country looks to the coming election in 2012, are African Americans disappointed in our first president of color? Historically Democrat in their leanings, will they now look to the Republicans for support? The NAACP is fighting for parity in education and an equal voice in the nation’s policies, but what is the best way to accomplish this? And, as the organization reaches out to other people of color, can it really make a difference in these major areas of concern to all?
Hilary Shelton, senior vice president for policy and advocacy and director of the NAACP’s Washington D.C. bureau
Alice Huffman, president of the California NAACP; member of the NAACP's national board