Last week during its Board Meeting, Benjamin Todd Jealous, President of the NAACP addressed the Foundation's Directors and staff. Jealous described current challenges facing the NAACP as it enters its second century of work. They include several of ongoing interest to the Foundation: sentencing of juveniles to life sentences without the possibility of parole, anti-trafficking, immigration reform and domestic criminal justice reform. He noted the role of the NAACP in building consensus around these issues which are particularly harmful to “black and brown” people and pointed out that they have led the NAACP and an emerging movement of advocates to call on the U.S. to address them as human rights violations.
Jealous noted that their resolution requires moving beyond currently guaranteed civil rights found in our constitution and instead requires that the U.S. be held accountable to human rights guarantees found in the charter of the U.N., the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the various human rights conventions to which the U.S. is a signatory or should become one. He positions the NAACP as a human rights organization because it consistently seeks to advance solutions beyond those limited by focusing on civil rights guaranteed by the U.S. and instead seeks the much broader protections found in human rights treaties and agreements.
Lastly, he also talked about the need to rebuild the NAACP, after the setback following the lost of its most significant donor. His goal is to rebuild and revitalize it so that it can resume its role as a major moral force, both domestically and internationally; e.g., by opening an office in New York to work exclusively with the U.N. on human rights issues.