Sterling scandal exposes serious NAACP hypocrisy, dysfunction

leon jenkins

Leon Jenkins resigned from his post as president of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP on Thursday, in what should be the first of several resignations due to the Donald Sterling debacle.

Los Angeles National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President Leon Jenkins’ resignation on Thursday, in wake of the Donald Sterling scandal was too little, too late. It is clear that Jenkins has shown very poor judgment and that his actions were a blight on the venerable civil rights organization since there is no possible scenario under which Sterling could ever have been an accurate representation of the NAACP’s values, mission and scope. No scenario at all.

Leon Jenkins, sterling

Leon Jenkins former president of the LA chapter of the NAACP poses with Clippers Owner Donald Sterling who expressed anger that his female companion “associate with black people.”

The NAACP has a long, distinguished tradition of advocating for the rights of African-Americans and other minority groups who are on the periphery of society’s wealth and opportunities. That goal has been the fundamental mission of the organization since its inception, which is why the mentality of the Los Angeles chapter, under Jenkins’ leadership, is such a disgrace.

Jenkins, sterling

NAACP’s Leon Jenkins honors Donald Sterling who is flanked by his wife.

When the tapes surfaced of Sterling’s’ racist diatribe against blacks, emotions became heated as blacks and other minorities boiled in anger. But another significant fact that was not as publicized was that Jenkins and his team were planning to honor Sterling with a second Lifetime Achievement Award next week. The chapter had previously given Sterling two awards in 2008 and 2009, one of which was a Lifetime Award, which of course raises the question: How many lifetimes does Sterling have?

Sterling is a real estate tycoon, in addition to owning the Los Angeles Clippers and he settled a housing discrimination lawsuit brought by the Justice Department in 2006 for $2.7 million due to his refusal to rent housing units to minorities. At the time, Sterling said “Hispanics smoke, drink and just hang around the building” while “Black tenants smell and attract vermin.”  Yet the Los Angeles Chapter of the NAACP felt he was deserving of an award in 2008.

elgin baylor

Elgin Baylor served the Clippers for 22 years then filed a lawsuit in 2010 accusing owner Donald Sterling of a range of distasteful racist conduct and sentiments. Baylor lost in court.

Not to be outdone by his venomous disdain for minorities, Sterling continued a reign of terror resulting in Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor filing a wrongful termination lawsuit against him, after being with the Clippers for 22 years as a woefully underpaid general manager, earning $250,000 per year, compared to the millions paid to other executives in similar positions industry-wide. In his lawsuit, Baylor accused Sterling of a “plantation mentality.”

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According to Baylor, Sterling would parade women into the Clippers’ locker room to look at the “fine black bodies” of the players. Also, according to Baylor, Sterling staunchly refused to hire black coaches because he wanted to “have white a Southern coach coaching poor black players.” Again, such actions so impressed the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP that the leadership awarded Sterling with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009. To say this is an appalling display of poor judgment is a gross understatement.

Appearing on Don Lemon’s program on CNN last weekend, political analyst and news host Ben Ferguson did not mince words “The NAACP should be ashamed of itself for honoring Donald Sterling given his long history of racism,” he said. We at could not agree more with Mr. Ferguson, who boldly said what many did not. What could Jenkins and his leadership have been thinking? Were they not thinking at all?

leon jenkins

Leon Jenkins at press conference on 4/28/2014 announcing that he is rescinding the second Lifetime Achievement Award he and his chapter planned to give to Donald Sterling.

In a precursor to his overdue resignation, Jenkins held a press conference on April 28 and said the following: “The revelations that Mr. Sterling may have made comments in a phone conversation that was reminiscent of the ugly time in American history that contained elements of segregation and racial discrimination demand that the NAACP’s intention to honor Mr. Sterling for lifetime body of work must be withdrawn and the donation that he has given tot he LA NAACP will be returned.”

Jenkins gets no points for withdrawing an award that should never have been a thought in the minds of those trusted to lead such an important organization. This effort to lavish Sterling with multiple NAACP awards represents a huge stain on the mission and reputation of the NAACP and more resignations should be announced as that chapter cleans house and returns to its noble 

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