The president of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP, Leon Jenkins, resigned Thursday, amid continued fallout from a decision to award embattled LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling and a report posted on The Root chronicling a history of Jenkins’ misdeeds since his days of being a judge in Detroit during the 1980s.
In a letter to the national leader of the NAACP, Jenkins wrote, “In order to separate the Los Angeles NAACP and the NAACP from the negative exposure I have caused the NAACP, I respectfully resign my position as president of the Los Angeles NAACP.”
Jenkins came under intense scrutiny after it was announced that the LA chapter of the NAACP planned to present Sterling with a second “lifetime achievement award” later this month.
TMZ had released recordings of Sterling in which the NBA owner is heard making racist remarks. The idea that Sterling had received not only one, but was in line for a second, award from the LA chapter upset many civil rights activists who noted Sterling’s history of discrimination including two lawsuits and eventual monetary agreements to settle allegations that he refused to rent apartments to Hispanics and blacks and to families with children.
Amid the fallout from the Sterling recordings, Jenkins rescinded the award that Sterling was to have received May 15 during the Los Angeles chapter’s 100th anniversary celebration.
Jenkins also said he would return money that Sterling had donated to the LA chapter. The New York Times reported that under Jenkins’ tenure, the LA branch had received at least $45,000 since 2007.
Later, however, Jenkins indicated that he would continue a working relationship with Sterling, saying that he would be willing to forgive Sterling and was negotiating to get more money from the league owner.
“After a sustained period of proof to the African-American community that those words don’t reflect his heart, I think there’s room for forgiveness. I wouldn’t be a Christian if I said there wasn’t,” Jenkins told the Associated Press. “We are negotiating with him about giving more monies to African-American students at UCLA, and so we are in preliminary discussions.”
On Thursday, The Root published a report that initially ran in The Michigan Citizen stating that between 1984 and 1987 Jenkins routinely “sold the public trust” while he was a 36th District Court judge in Detroit.