Posted on April 22, 2022

I Joined the NAACP to Fight Injustice. Ironically, It’s Also Why I’m Resigning.

Todd Cardiff, San Diego Union-Tribune, April 15, 2022

In 2015, I joined the NAACP believing it to be the most powerful and effective voice against racial injustice. Despite being a civil litigation attorney with almost two decades of experience in advising nonprofit organizations, it never occurred to me to read the bylaws before joining. It was only after two duly-elected local branch presidents were unceremoniously removed, without a modicum of due process, that I finally took a deep dive into the language. I discovered that the NAACP’s constitution and bylaws are antithetical to any democratically run civil rights organization.

The most problematic section of the NAACP Constitution is Article IV, Section 3(a) {snip}

In plain language, Article IV means that if a member discovers that another member embezzled money, engaged in sexual harassment, corruptly sold the NAACP’s name or engaged in any myriad other criminal or civil wrongs, such member could not hold or assist in holding the NAACP director, officer or employee criminally or civilly responsible without automatically forfeiting his or her membership in the NAACP. In a more common scenario, if a member wishes to enforce the procedures set forth in the bylaws in a court of law, his or her membership will be automatically revoked.

There are a number of other provisions of the NAACP’s constitution and bylaws that similarly seek to discourage challenging the NAACP in a court of law. {snip}


Nevertheless, such provisions have been effective at discouraging anyone from mounting a legal challenge. No matter how draconian the NAACP acts towards its members, how severely it violates its own bylaws, how blatantly it denies due process, why would an unpaid volunteer risk having his or her membership publicly revoked in the oldest and most respected civil rights organization in the nation, and potentially pay attorneys’ fees and costs? {snip}

The NAACP San Diego Branch is a case in point. In July 2021, the national board of directors of the NAACP appointed an “administrator” to the San Diego Branch, an action wholly outside of any reasonable interpretation of the bylaws. The administrator demanded the San Diego Branch void local branch elections and hold new elections without any evidence of fraud, and in direct contravention to the procedures specified in the bylaws. When our current President Francine Maxwell indicated that, despite her objections, she would run for office again, NAACP President Derrick Johnson suspended her, effectively barring her from re-election. {snip}