EDITORIAL: Have Historic Civil Rights Groups Lost Their Relevancy?

During the second half of the 20th century, civil rights and religious-based organizations like the NAACP, the National Urban League, CORE, SNCC and the SCLC led the way in advocating for equality, justice and the more humane treatment of African-Americans.

However, in recent years, some (Blacks) have contended that these venerable groups have either entered into unfamiliar terrains where former strategies simply do not work, or they’ve abandoned their decades-old, focused agendas that addressed the survival and advancement of the Black community. In either case, they seem to have lost their relevancy.

But are the critics correct in their observation? We think each organization must be taken individually and critiqued on its own merit. However, we’d admit to at least the following: 1) if the original mission or purpose has since been achieved, maybe it’s time to close the doors; 2) without the influx and encouragement of younger members being invited into the fold, even the most successful organizations tend to become an entity more fitting for reminiscing on the past than retooling for the future; and 3) many of our leaders seem reluctant to mentor youth, finding it even harder to step down from the pedestal and release the baton.

The recent turn of events in America involving “police, protests and pistols” illustrate that we are far from reaching a point where race doesn’t matter.

In fact, with various lines being drawn in the sand over things like religious preference, educational attainment, sexual orientation and class and gender differences, we must recognize that it’s impossible to force the “square pegs” that represent America’s hallowed diversity into “one-dimensional round holes.”

We need both “old school” and “new Jacks” to put aside their differences and get their hands dirty, together. Meanwhile, maybe, just for a moment or two, we can skip the obligatory black-tie parties, baked chicken dinners and salutes to ourselves. There’s just too much work to be done.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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