NAACP Will Hold 2nd Meet to Pursue Goals

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NAACP leaders ended a three-day “summit meeting” on the problems of black communities here Tuesday, announcing that they plan a second such meeting in August.

“This historic summit (of African American leaders) has been so successful,” said NAACP Executive Director Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. that “we have decided to reconvene in the third week of August.”

Before the next meeting, he said, “working committees” will be established to focus on three issues: economic development, youth and community empowerment, and moral and spiritual renewal.


What was an anti-climatic end to the gathering of more than 50 prominent black leaders contrasts with weeks of buildup in which Chavis spoke of setting a new agenda to cope with a “life-or-death crisis” in the black community.

The meeting at the national headquarters of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, drew extraordinary security. A helicopter flew overhead, as scores of dark-suited followers of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan stood guard around the red-brick headquarters of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People. Inside, specially hired security guards kept reporters away from participants.

On several occasions, Chavis spoke of “threats” and “acts of intimidation” but he refused to say what had prompted the security concerns.

The 46-year-old Chavis dominated the meeting, which he had proposed. While he did not announce a plan or agenda at the end of the meeting, Chavis did pronounce it a success simply because it had taken place.

“We have achieved our mission,” he said with several dozen leaders gathered around him. “Certain forces didn’t want this meeting to happen. We have defied forces that sought to divide us. We have achieved togetherness.”

Though NAACP officials refused to release a list of those who attended, participants included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.), New York activist Al Sharpton, Princeton Prof. Cornell West and Harvard University psychiatrist Alvin Pouissaint.


But the presence of Farrakhan drew the most attention--and criticism. On Sunday, about 50 mostly Jewish demonstrators protested a block away because Farrakhan had been invited. Chavis bristled at the criticism, and in a heated voice Tuesday night, said that the oldest African American civil rights organization will not be “dictated” to by outsiders.

“Never again will we allow any external forces to dictate who we can meet with. Never again. Never again,” he said to cheers and applause. “We have locked arms,” he said, with Farrakhan at his side, “and our circle cannot be broken.”