On behalf of the thousands of North Carolina NAACP members, and the hundreds of thousands of progressive Black, White, and Brown North Carolinians who are a part of the HKonJ Peoples Coalition and the Moral Monday-Forward Together Movement that we work with, I speak with full support and confidence about the tough decision my brother, President Benjamin Todd Jealous, made over the weekend to step down from the Presidency of the national NAACP, effective at the end of 2013.
On the personal level, we wish Ben and his family well. The stresses on a civil rights father are excruciating. Ben and his wonderful wife have two little kids. It is the right time to be with them. Our members know well the difficulty of balancing the needs of their families with the needs of the Movement. The Lord knows we often make mistakes in this balancing act. We also wish Pres. Jealous well in his new career, whether it is building an organization that helps identify, groom, and fund minority candidates, as a teacher, or as a candidate for office himself. We know he will be successful at anything he takes up.
On the political level, we thank Pres. Jealous for his strong and consistent support for the work of our southern State Conferences. Five years ago, when he was installed as the youngest President in NAACP history, he grasped immediately that Black, White and Latino people can break out of old, sick social patterns, and build new conditions to create new social and political dynamics in the south. Pres. Jealous embraced what we knew and what we have learned -- that the massive southern resistance people of color faced in the South was funded and focused by the Koch brothers' tea party forces and their national and local confederates. He understood that their paid agents are fighting to survive, fighting to hold onto the so-called solid south, using extremist rhetoric, tactics and obscene amounts of money to buy low-hanging court and state legislative seats.
President Jealous listened to us and walked with us consistently. He supported our efforts in North Carolina to juxtapose our agenda of love, justice, good jobs, good schools, good health care, and decent housing against the mean-spirited agenda of the extremist right. He and our dear sister, Chairperson Rosalyn Brock, who brought her fresh vision and commitment to activism to the Board about the same time as President Jealous, both brought their great passion for justice and to challenging the continuing realities of systematic racism.
We are prayerfully thankful for President Jealous's sustained and energetic leadership and service to our old ship of Zion known as the NAACP. His leadership will be listed among the 16 warriors who preceded him, each chosen to captain the ship in different moments of our voyage towards equality. This ship has many passengers, many crew members, and it has always faced strong currents and major storms. To be its captain is to be given a heavy burden with no rest. To have captained the ship well deserves more than a casual mention. United with the NAACP Board and the strong leadership of volunteers on the ground at the state and local level, Pres. Jealous' own leadership was able to flourish and be recognized!
We know President Jealous will continue to make important impacts on this nation and the world. Under his leadership we have seen people come together. We have seen important transitions internally and externally. These developments put the NAACP in a strong position now, as the Movement enters the most transformational moment in history since the 1960's. We are strong in the field. We are strong on line. We are strong in our finances. We are strong in volunteers. And, we are strong with a game-changing vision and fortitude for the work that lies ahead.
Ben Jealous has inspired us to have bold dreams, and then break them down for winnable victories. We will heed his wisdom and vision as we thank him for his service and gifts and we will recommit ourselves to serve and to give for the cause of justice, continuing the noble work of the NAACP.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. The NC Conference of NAACP Branches is 70 years old this year and is made up of over 100 Adult, Youth and College NAACP units across the state, convenes the more the 150 members of the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) Peoples Assembly Coalition, and is the architect of the Moral Monday & Forward Together Movement.