Crises in Black leadership

Changes in the Urban League and the NAACP

ThroughMyEyesnewThe rumors circulating that two of the oldest and most prestigious civil rights organizations are going through a crisis of leadership have not yet been explained as of the writing of this column. We lost the St. Paul Urban League three years ago. Now Scott Gray has abruptly left the Minneapolis Urban League (MUL). Why?

The national NAACP announced on April 6 that they had ordered a special election for their Minneapolis branch on May 2 at the NorthPoint Health Center. Why? Why this fragileness in these long-term civil rights organizations? Irrelevance? Lack of credibility? Secrecy? Focus on Black elites rather than Black communities?

How do we interpret the many rumors that indicate there are investigations by the Council on Black Minnesotans and others regarding shortages of funds? How do we interpret these events while some African American leaders, in a letter to the Star Tribune editorial page, indicated that these are the best of times for the African American community? Why do Black leaders claim all is well while meeting behind closed doors, making decisions for themselves and then pleading ignorance?

Never before, in the history of civil rights organizations and social service organizations, has there been such a sudden change of leadership. Minneapolis Black leaders, who claim to speak with full knowledge and wisdom about what is taking place within the African American community, owe us a more detailed explanation that we then must examine.

What is the signal we are getting from increased violence on our streets as young African Americans fight among themselves in groups as large as 300 combatants? Is this not a signal to both Black and White leadership that there is something different about how these young people are regarding promises about the future? There are promises that won’t be kept.

With so much money poured into the African American community, how is it that we are still faced with poverty, fear and apprehension, causing some to look favorably on joining terrorist groups?

What happened to the $1 million Summit OIC and NorthPoint allegedly received for development and planning? What will the Urban League do with the $1.8 million the legislature is providing them for further educational development and the $3 million the legislature is awarding African American nonprofit agencies for continued job development and employment, as well as money from foundations and charitable giving?

We await the report of the numbers that reflect inclusion of African Americans in constructing the Vikings Stadium. How many Minnesota Blacks have been employed (and not just “minorities”)? How many trained by Summit OIC were actually qualified and hired? We have heard of one African American contract in excess of $25 million. We have also heard that African Americans have been paid in excess of $240 million in wages.

We want to see proof of the hundreds of thousands of hours claimed that have already been worked by African American workers (again, Blacks, not just minorities). If true, these staggering numbers represent an economic harvest for the African American community.

We want MUL and NAACP to explain how they did it, to leave us the formula for future leaders’ success as current leaders depart. When will clear explanations and exit interviews be provided by these supposedly powerful civil rights and social service agencies in the Black community?

We don’t want them to walk away from this prosperity without providing a clear explanation in exit interviews of how they achieved it, so the “how” can be passed on to the next generation for their pursuit and enjoyment of this great economic uplifting.

Stay tuned.

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