|“They say the NAACP needs new
leadership. Now is the time. ”
On Monday, Nov. 29, the Boston Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will hold an election to select a new president. The polling place will be Roxbury Community College, from 5 p.m. - 9 p.m. All members in good standing are eligible to vote.
The Boston Branch was established in 1911 and is the NAACP’s oldest. However, community interest in the organization has waned in recent years. It is anticipated that the outcome of this election will determine whether the NAACP revives or slips back into somnolence. The candidates for president are former state Sen. Bill Owens and Michael Curry, a young lawyer.
A major problem with the NAACP is that its major objective, confronting racial oppression, is no longer of primary relevance. While racial discrimination still exists and will continue to do so, it is certainly not the problem it once was 50 years ago. How could that be the case when there is a black president and a black governor?
The goal of the NAACP must be to mobilize the black community to take advantage of the opportunities in education, employment, business and political organization. Of course discrimination must be confronted when it arises. This is clearly a job for a young man with young legs like Curry. Owens served well in the Senate, but that is not the requirement for the NAACP job. Time passes us all by.
Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the season of beneficence. From now until Christmas, it is institutionally mandated that Americans are to demonstrate a special concern for the welfare of those who are suffering from financial difficulties.
A common manifestation of concern are programs to provide free Thanksgiving dinners for the homeless or those who cannot afford the cost of food. There are also numerous free turkey programs for those who have the facilities to cook. After Thanksgiving, “Toys for Tots” and other programs collect gifts to assure that children from low-income families will have presents for Christmas.
These programs demonstrate one aspect of the American charitable spirit, but they seem somewhat weak in light of the national debate on entitlements. The country is now considering policy issues that are intended to prevent more citizens from falling below the poverty line.
Should unemployment benefits be extended? What health care provisions are appropriate? What benefits should social security provide? Should the wealthy be taxed at a higher rate than ordinary wage earners?
All of these issues are so complex that most citizens are unable to understand their consequences. The media have tended to add to the confusion rather than to provide clarity. Perhaps the holiday season will create a better environment for considering such matters.
One thing is clear. The nation’s educational systems must become effective enough to provide every child with an opportunity to develop his or her talents. Members of this well educated work force will then be able to find a place in the economic system. Nonetheless, there will always be some who do not make the grade.
As Americans are filled with a spirit of generosity during the holiday season, it is good to consider what being at the bottom looks like. What kind of safety net should the nation provide? To what extent should the successful be taxed to provide assistance to others?
The answers to those questions will determine what kind of country America will become.