Published on February 25th, 20141
The NAACP and Black Republican Stereotypes
Last month, Rev. William Barber, President of the NAACP North Carolina State Conference referred to U. S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) as a “A ventriloquist dummy.” Essentially declaring that he is a puppet with White Republican hands at his back controlling what he says and what he does. He never cited his objections about Senator Scott, but everyone understood the code. It is pretty clear that he probably dislikes the fact that he is Black, Republican, and a United States Senator most. Unfortunately, the greater tragedy is that as an elected State President of the NAACP he felt comfortable enough to make his declaration without any fear of reprisal.
This must be one of the low moments of Rev. Barber’s career in civil rights. Prior to this Rev. Barber has seemingly done a great job organizing the NAACP and growing its operations on the ground. However, this statement was a punitive and stunning rebuke from a leader that came off more so as a loose cannon than the seasoned NAACPer that he appears to have been. Rev. Barber’s lack of judgment, in my opinion, was unbecoming of a well-trained and prepared NAACP State Conference President. He seems to have temporarily lost his composure and misplaced the temperament required to lead a civil rights organization in a state once heralded as one of the model state conferences in the country for the NAACP.
The late great Kelly M. Alexander, Sr. set the bar for strong, bold and astute leadership during his tenure as President in North Carolina. So much so, that he went on to become Chairman of the NAACP’s National Board of Directors and made North Carolina proud. Rev. Barber currently serves on the NAACP’s National Board, but his most recent statement about Senator Scott is uncharacteristic of a politically astute NAACP leader that first, recognizes the political context of his service and the need to build relationships that may one day serve the needs of the Association’s members. Rev. Barber just made Hillary Shelton’s job at the NAACP Washington Bureau on Capitol Hill a little more complicated. I guess the Reverend did not consider the political capital lost if the GOP wins the Senate in November and Senator Scott becomes Chairman of an important committee.
Local NAACP branches could always use more help from their State Conference President with fundraising, processing cases, and recruiting young members. Instead Rev. Barber just got caught up in the moment and attacked the only Black United States Senator in the South. Well, so much for the “Advancement of Colored People.” I don’t know the good Reverend Doctor, but I am doing my best to give him a pass for his lapse in judgment. After all, it is Black History Month. I love the NAACP of old, but we must do better than this. I guess he will not be inviting Senator Scott to his church for communion anytime soon.
Lord have mercy….
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shannon Frank Reeves, Sr. is a Ronald E. McNair Graduate Fellow pursuing a doctorate degree in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Political Science from Grambling State University of Louisiana. He is a 2011 recipient of the George R. Mears Centennial Scholarship awarded by the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Mr. Reeves is the former National Director of State and Local Development for the Republican National Committee (RNC). He served as the Party’s liaison between state, county and local Republican organizations for candidate training/support and professional development.