By Derrick Johnson, President and CEO of the NAACP
BALTIMORE—Recently, the NAACP, alongside members of the Congressional Black Caucus, gathered on the steps of Capitol Hill to demand a halt of the Trump administration’s continued attempts to force Thomas Farr—a known racist with ties to the late segregationist Senator Jesse Helms—into the federal judgeship of North Carolina.
Located in eastern North Carolina, this federal district under this judgeship has one of the highest densities of African American voters than any other part of the state, making Farr one of the worst possible candidates that could be considered. Sadly, instead of representing an anomaly, Farr instead represents the archetype for federal judge nominees put forth by the Trump Administration. Whether it’s nominees that refuse to publicly support the Brown v. Board decision that desegregated our public schools or individuals with ties to known racist organizations, what we are seeing are people whose attitudes reflect norms more associated with the era of Jim Crow than our time.
It cannot be ignored that Trump’s White House is engaged in none other than a war against civil rights. Though this is a battle we had hoped to have ended by now, it is not a fight we are afraid of nor is it one we will lose. We have waged war against the foes of civil rights for over 109 years. We fought hard against the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to the office of Attorney General and we will continue to fight against Trump’s nearly all-white and mostly male federal judge nominees. Mr. Sessions’ redirection of the Department of Justice (DOJ) away from its civil rights commitment under the Obama Administration to an agency that condones police brutality and other racially based injustices is hardly surprising. We knew he would push the DOJ to withdraw its support for our legal cases against voter suppression and he did. The simple point is that these moves against civil rights cannot be divorced from his boss—President Trump.
Over the past few months, the NAACP has sued the Trump administration on its failure to properly prepare for Census2020. This failure to prepare for the Census means that communities of color, including wealthy communities like Prince Georges County, Maryland, our partner in the lawsuit, will likely be once again undercounted. When this happens, our communities lose out on political representation, federal dollars, and resources that are rightfully ours. We’ve also taken the fight to this administration on the decision by Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education to basically throw civil rights under the bus and arbitrarily determine that the department no longer has to investigate complaints of discrimination in our schools. We are also committed to ensuring that DeVos plans for privatization, plans that would destroy our public-school system, never come to completion.
There is a direct correlation between the racism emanating from the White House and the expansion of attacks on the humanity of persons of color. This is clear not only from Trump’s poisonous rhetoric that disparages people, cultures, and nations, but also in the policies that emanate from his office.
The infection of blatant racist speech and behavior began the day after Trump was elected and it has continued to spread, giving inspiration to closet bigots and encouraging implicit and explicit racial biases that pervade from the golf course to the coffee shop and every space in between.
During our 109th Annual Convention July 14-18 in San Antonio, Texas, the NAACP will bring together some of our nation’s most brilliant minds, activists, and legislators, as well as powerful voices from the hip-hop community to map out the agenda for moving forward. Our goal is to unite our voices into a powerful symphony that resonates with communities of color and inspires them to join us in standing against government-sponsored hate. This year’s theme is simply “Defeat Hate—Vote.”
We’ve extended an invitation to President Trump to attend our convention and once again he has declined. His refusal to address the nation’s premier civil rights organization and its hundreds of thousands of advocates is, by default, a refusal to speak to the entirety of the Black Community. Regardless, we remain “unshook” and “woke,” in terms of the challenges we face and must overcome in this administration and we’re up for the fight.
All we ask of you is to join us to “Make Democracy Work.” Pledge to vote by texting NAACP to 40649.