Report: Award to Sterling Wasn’t the First Questionable Move for LA’s NAACP President

Leon Jenkins, president of the NAACP’s Los Angeles branch, has a history that trails him from Detroit to his current California posting.

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published in The Michigan Citizen.

Leon Jenkins, the Los Angeles branch NAACP president who awarded LA Clippers basketball team owner Donald Sterling with a Lifetime Achievement award among other commendations, lived, worked and won notoriety in Detroit.

Jenkins was a 36th District Court judge between 1984 and 1987. During that time, he was caught lying about his residency to get lower auto insurance rates, fixed tickets and accepted other bribes, according to the California Bar Journal. He was also observed on FBI surveillance taking money.

In 1991, the Michigan State Bar Review said Jenkins “sold the public trust” and was disbarred in Michigan, and eventually, in California.

He was also removed from the bench by the Michigan Supreme Court.

The State Bar Review found Jenkins: “Systematically and routinely sold his office and his public trust, … committed wholesale violations of the most elementary canons of judicial conduct, and brought grave dishonor upon this state’s judiciary.”

The Los Angeles NAACP fell under criticism because of its role in awarding Sterling his second lifetime achievement award in five years.

Sterling has had more than one sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit filed against him, including a 2009 federal housing lawsuit where the U.S. government accused him of refusing to rent to Blacks and Latinos. He settled that lawsuit for $2.73 million.

Sterling received the NAACP Lifetime Achievement award that same year.

Jenkins, who says he has known Sterling for almost 20 years, defended his organization’s plans to honor the bigoted NBA team owner by saying he has a record of contributing to minority organizations.