Jon Hurdle, Reuters, Jul. 12, 2004
The leader of America’s largest civil rights organization on Monday attacked African American groups that he said were helping white conservatives promote a right-wing agenda.
Kweisi Mfume, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, condemned the groups as a “collection of black hustlers” who have adopted a conservative agenda in return for “a few bucks a head.”
“When the ultraconservative right-wing attacker has run out of attack strategy, he goes and gets someone that looks like you and me to continue the attack,” Mfume said in his opening address to the NAACP’s annual convention.
“They’ve financed a conservative coalition of make-believe black organizations, all of them hollow shells with more names on the letterhead than there are people in their membership,” he said.
John White, a spokesman for the NAACP, said this was the first time Mfume has publicly attacked other black groups.
Mfume did not name his targets but they are believed to include Project 21, a Washington, D.C.-based organization whose Web site says it is dedicated to issues such as entrepreneurial spirit and the family that have “not traditionally been echoed by the nation’s civil rights establishment.”
David Almasi, director of Project 21, acknowledged there is “probably” an ideological divide between his group and the NAACP but said Project 21 is financially independent from political parties.
“We take no marching orders from anyone,” he said.
Almasi said Mfume’s comments may have been aimed at the African American Republican Leadership Council, whose mission is to “break the liberal Democrat stranglehold over black America,” according to its Web site.
Although the NAACP is officially non-partisan, only about 9 percent of African American voters supported George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential election, the group said.
The NAACP, founded in 1909, says it has 500,000 adult and youth members.