New NAACP President Should Be a Woman

The NAACP needs a new president in January, and in Salon, Brittney Cooper argues that the civil rights group's next leader should be a woman. 

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The NAACP needs a new president in January, and in Salon, Brittney Cooper says the civil rights group's next leader should be a woman. The vacancy gives the organization a chance to send a message about the significance of women to its mission.

Though African-American culture is still enamored with charismatic race men, the NAACP can send a great signal that a change has come by choosing an African-American woman to head the organization. That no woman in more than a century has had the opportunity is shameful. Moreover it reflects a continued distrust of female race leaders. Despite the fact that black women are one of the most politically engaged demographics particularly regarding racial issues, having disproportionately outvoted all other demographics in the 2008 presidential campaign, there is still a strident distrust of black women running movements. This won't do. Not if black politics will have any political resonance in decades to come. Moreover, among many other commemorative moments this year, Sept. 15 marks the 50thanniversary of the 16th Street church bombing that killed four little black girls in Birmingham, Ala. A fitting tribute to their memory would be the naming of a woman to this post.

There are several stellar black women leaders who could lead the NAACP in a new direction. Stefanie Brown James, a former national field director and youth and college director of the NAACP and the director of African-American voting for the Obama 2012 campaign, has a long history with the organization, an ear to what drives African-American communities, and a talent for energizing people. Aisha Moodie-Mills, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, who melds LGBT activism with a host of progressive causes, would represent a significant organizational shift.  When I crowdsourced a list of potential nominees from my progressive colleagues, Maya Wiley's name came up more than once. President of the Center for Social Inclusion, she has an impressive résumé as a civil rights attorney and public advocate. She has worked for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and thinks broadly about practical remedies for structural racism. Professor and attorney Sherrilyn Ifill, who is newly named president and counsel-director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund (a separate entity), would also make an excellent candidate. Finally, the NAACP would benefit from the incisive thinking and advocacy of a figure like economist and former Bennett College president Julianne Malveaux.

Read Brittney Cooper's entire piece at Salon.

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