- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 11, 2001

NEW ORLEANS — The third day of the NAACP's national convention brought another round of verbal fire against the Bush administration as delegates voted to oppose the president's plan to provide federal money to churches for use in community programs.

"The president is trying to divide the black clergy in this country," said Amos Brown, one of 64 national directors of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "But he has refused to meet with civil rights leaders over his faith-based initiative while meeting with some other blacks. If Mr. Bush were serious about including the black community, he would have met with some of us."

State delegates voted overwhelmingly against the president's plan.

"The black clergy that has supported it has just been hustling," said Mr. Brown, who is from San Francisco. "There has been no inclusive dialogue, and the idea also allows churches that use the money to discriminate in hiring."

NAACP Chairman Julian Bond said the Bush plan "threatens to erase 60 years of civil rights protections."

Delegates yesterday declined to call for an economic boycott of Mississippi to protest its decision to keep the Confederate battle symbol on the state flag. Mississippians voted 64 percent to 36 percent in April to keep the state flag that includes the St. Andrews cross and stars.

Over the weekend, a group of people who represented themselves as members of the Louisiana NAACP handed out fliers that said, "The only people who do business with the state of Mississippi are rednecks and slaves."

Some had expected the NAACP to approve a boycott similar to the one that it has taken against South Carolina for its flag display outside the Statehouse.

Eugene Bryant, president of the Mississippi state conference of NAACP branches, said such a move could be down the road. "If we're going to move into the 21st century, we need to get rid of all racist symbols," he said.

The NAACP's top leadership has waged a contentious political war with the Bush administration, despite the 1,000 miles that separate them.

Since the convention began Sunday, Republicans have been castigated in severe language that drew a rebuke from the White House.

In a speech opening the 500,000-member group's 92nd annual conference, Mr. Bond compared some Bush appointees to Afghanistan's ruling group, the Taliban, which has harbored known terrorists.

He attacked Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton and referred to Cabinet officials as people "whose devotion to the Confederacy is nearly canine in its uncritical affection."

Hilary Shelton, the NAACP's Washington-based legislative director, said yesterday the chairman's inflammatory comments were pointed for a reason.

"Mr. Bond was trying to make a clear, distinct point that there could have been appointments who all Americans can rally around," said Mr. Shelton. "We have commended the choices of Rodney Paige, of Colin Powell, of Condoleezza Rice."

Rep. J.C. Watts Jr. responded to Mr. Bond's attacks yesterday with a letter calling for a meeting with the chairman.

The Oklahoma Republican said that Mr. Bond's comments were "misleading, disappointing and far below the standards befitting an institution as storied and influential as the NAACP. Far from your pledge to 'applaud [Mr. Bush] when he is right,' you have sought to distort the Bush administration's record and further divide this nation.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide