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NAACP chief focuses on budget priorities, voting laws

NAACP Chairman Benjamin Jealous poses for a portrait during the 41st NAACP Image awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on February 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.
NAACP Chairman Benjamin Jealous poses for a portrait during the 41st NAACP Image awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on February 26, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.
Charley Gallay/Getty Images for NAACP

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NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous says officials should let tax cuts for the richest Americans expire, rather than balance the budget on the backs of those who can least afford it.

"Let me send a very clear message to the leaders in Washington. Less than a year ago you made $400 billion in tax cuts. Now you're asking us for $4 trillion in expense cuts to pay for those tax cuts over the next 10 years."

The civil rights activist also called on the black community to mobilize against restrictive voting laws that have surged since the election of Barack Obama to the White House.

In a speech Monday to the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Jealous likened legislation in 47 states to Jim Crow laws that sought to disenfranchise blacks prior to the 1960s.

Jealous also says rescuing black men from high rates of incarceration and unemployment is a priority issue, and promised to fight to save black families by working to defeat unfair sentencing laws and improving urban education.

The NAACP's 102nd annual convention is taking place in downtown Los Angeles until Thursday.

KPCC's Nick Roman and Christina Hoag of the Associated Press contributed to this report.