- The Washington Times - Friday, January 10, 2003

Instead of blaming racism for the woes of the black community, Oakland, Calif.'s NAACP believes self-responsibility should replace "civil rights" as the new cornerstone of black activism.
Today, it will sponsor a "self-help" summit to focus attention on ways the black community can improve itself from within, without the help of the federal government.
"We aren't here to talk about racism, but to talk about what the black community can do to help itself," said Shannon Reeves, chairman of the Oakland chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
"We've had a civil rights movement already. Now it's time for a self-help movement. We are killing each other."
The two-day event will feature speeches from conservative radio personality Larry Elder; Robert Woodson, founder of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise; and Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels and now a New York radio talk-show host.
Oakland's record homicide rate, ailing schools and a black community in which witnesses to crime refuse to cooperate with police prompted the event, said Mr. Reeves, a Republican, who dubbed the "No One Can Save Us For Us But Us" event the "self-help summit."
The city's homicide rate rose 35 percent last year from 84 in 2001 to 113 in 2002, with many of the killings part of a spate of black-on-black crime.
Getting away from government "help" and turning local hoodlums into community liaisons has been successful in both Dallas and Indianapolis, said Mr. Woodson, who will discuss how to implement gang-free zones in some of the city's troubled neighborhoods.
Mr. Woodson, who has worked with troubled urban communities for 21 years with his group, has stressed more active churches and less governmental help in low-income areas, a concept that preceded President Bush's faith-based initiative introduced in 2001.
Mr. Sliwa hopes to import his idea of empowering former criminals into caretakers of high-crime areas of Oakland, just as he did when he began the Guardian Angels in New York in 1979.
The event, as well as the idea of recruiting locals to help police the streets, is being done without the help of the NAACP's national office.
"The NAACP since 1909 has fought to defend and protect the black community from the Klan, from Bull Connor, from George Wallace and other enemies outside the black community," Mr. Reeves said.
"But in 2003, while Bull Connor and George Wallace types are still out there, they aren't killing members of the black community and they are not having as catastrophic an effect as our self-inflicted troubles. It is time to eliminate the enemy inside our community."
The conference is the local NAACP's own way of dealing with the crime wave after successfully helping to defeat a measure that would have raised taxes in order to fund 100 new officers on the street.

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