Friday, July 06, 2012

NAACP national convention in Houston this weekend

Vice President Joe Biden and Mitt Romney are both scheduled to speak.

As more than 8,000 members of the nation's most venerable civil rights organization gather in Houston this weekend for a convention featuring appearances by Vice President Joe Biden and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, the unofficial topic outside the hall may be whether time has passed the NAACP by.

During the long years when black children were forced to attend separate, vastly inferior schools and Southern states were relying on poll taxes, voters' tests and raw intimidation to keep black citizens from the ballot box, the focus for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was both urgent and crystal clear. The association was at the forefront in the arduous battle to end racial segregation in schools and other public places as well as secure the right to vote for black Americans.

The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education ruling by the Supreme Court, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were the tangible results of a monumental decades-long struggle.

Today, 103 years after the association's founding, the issues are more nuanced, even though racial inequity and its consequences remain a stubborn fact of American life.

All you have to do is read the comments at that story to understand what the NAACP still has to combat. The biggest internal struggle is the Obama administration's declaration of support for gay marriage, and the corresponding endorsement by the NAACP of gay rights as as civil rights under the 14th Amendment. NPR has the best reporting of that.

The biggest external issue uniting the delegates is the renewed fight for voting rights.

"In the past legislative session, more states have passed more laws pushing more voters out of the ballot box than in any legislative session since the rise of Jim Crow," (NAACP president Ben Jealous) said. "A wave like that is intentional. It's created by hundreds of state legislators across the country acting in unison to suppress the vote."

Yeah, there's that, and then there's the Texas Republican party platform.

The NAACP national convention follows by less than a month the Texas Democratic Party's state convention here in H-Town. If I was a Republican I might think it was a grand conspiracy to motivate Harris County Democrats to turn out the vote in November.

You have to wonder if these quivering, scared conservatives around town have stocked up on ammunition and will be sitting in their barricaded homes clinging to their guns and Bibles.

Meh. They'll all be as mad as a wet hen for the next three months -- and the four years after that -- no matter what.

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