Three Questions for NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson
NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson cited voter suppression, police brutality, the census undercount of communities of color, and hate crimes and gun violence as among the top challenges facing his organization.
The Florida A&M University (FAMU) Office of Communications asked Johnson three questions ahead of his speech at the Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation Thursday, January 16, 2020. The convocation is scheduled for 10:10 a.m. to noon at Gaither Gym. Classes are suspended during the ceremony. The event is free and open to the public.
1. What are the most pressing civil rights issues the NAACP is confronting?
- Voter suppression
- Census and communities of color historically being undercounted
- Police brutality in our communities
- Hate crimes and gun violence
2. 2020 is a presidential election year. Can you talk about the state of voting rights?
We know that if people of color and specifically Black voters participated in elections at the same rate as white voters have we would have a progressive majority.
Black voters are skeptical of the political establishment, unhappy with candidate choices, frustrated with structural and institutional racism, slow job growth, no wage growth, the rising costs of health care, the rising cost of college and the rising cost of housing, and disturbed about police violence.
We can address many of these issues by electing the right individuals and passing the right legislation. However, it’s important to remember that the right to vote is one of the most valuable constitutional rights granted to most Americans.
That is why the NAACP was pleased and proud to see H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act pass the U.S. House of Representatives on December 6, 2019, by a decisive margin of 228 – 187.
We must now urge the U.S. Senate to take up and pass this crucial legislation, and not allow it to end up in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Kentucky) “legislative graveyard,” like so many other NAACP federal legislative priorities. H.R. 4 returns the 1965 Voting Rights Act to its full strength and even improves upon the 1965 law.
3. What is one thing young people on campus need to know and need to fight to change?
Everyone is attempting to make decisions regarding your future. But it cannot be absent of your voice and agenda for your community. It is important that the youth of today take the mantle for advocacy in their community and chart the course for generations to come.
Editor’s Note: NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson was unable to speak at the 2020 MLK Convocation after his flight was unable to land at Tallahassee Airport.