NAACP Presidential Selection Process Again Mired In Controversy

Source: George Curry / NNPA

WASHINGTON – A search firm hired by the NAACP ranked Rev. Frederick D. Haynes, III, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, as the top candidate five years ago to become president and CEO of the NAACP. But Haynes wasn’t the favorite of Julian Bond, then chairman of the board of directors, who preferred Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of a small, private foundation in California, for the spot.

So when the selection process shifted from the search committee to the NAACP’s executive committee, the NAACP’s legendary political maneuvering came into play. At Bond’s urging, the executive committee opted to present only Jealous’ name to the full board for an up-or-down vote. To no one’s surprise, Jealous was elected (34-21).

Though Benjamin L, Hooks, one of the association’s most popular leaders, pastored two churches – one in Memphis and one in Detroit – while serving as executive director of the NAACP from 1977 to 1992, Haynes was told he did not reach the final round of the selection process because he wouldn’t agree to give up his church duties in Dallas.

Haynes felt that was a ruse and the experience left a bitter taste in his mouth, with him vowing the never go through that process again. He could have accepted losing in a fair contest, Haynes told anyone who would listen to him at the time. But what was hard for him to swallow was how a venerated organization dedicated to seeking justice and fairness for African Americans could hold an election for its top office without any pretense of being fair.

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