I got an email from Julian Bond today. Well, not really from him but from NAACP HQ presumably — I’m on their list. So I can keep a sharp eye on ’em. It was a confusing email meant, I think, to take advantage of Barack Obama’s ascendancy. Between this CNN story talking about the long history of black presidents in Hollywood and the NAACP’s email, I was reminded of “Rufus Jones for President” starring a 9 year old Sammy Davis Jr and Ethel Waters. “2 Pork Chops Every Time You Vote” was lil Rufus’ get-out-the-vote strategy. I’ve excerpted the NAACP’s email below with some special emphasis.

An Historic Day

Senator Obama has accomplished an incredible first for the
African-American community, and for the United States. Barack Obama
is the first African American to be nominated for President on a major
party ticket.

This historic event shows just how far this country has come to
healing the racial divides that have plagued our history as a nation.
But along the way the campaign provided some painful reminders of just how much further we have to go to achieve true equality for all

This is a day that should make us all proud, and then it should make
us redouble our efforts to protect those rights that many have given
their lives to secure. And for 100 years, that’s exactly what the
NAACP has done.

As a bipartisan, 501 C3 organization we don’t get involved directly
with candidates. What we do, I think better than any other
organization, is organize the voting efforts of the African American
community. This year the NAACP is focused on four things: voter
registration, voter education, election protection and getting out the
vote. We’ve been hard at work already, and over the summer you’ll be
hearing more from us as we roll out new phases of our program. But
here are just a few updates.

NAACP and its coalition partners have already registered hundreds of
thousands of new voters, and we’re expanding our efforts so that we
can reach even more young people through technology and field efforts
on college campuses. Our goal is to register many thousands more new voters between now and November with an eye to increasing African-American voter turnout by 5%.

Five (5) whole percentage points. Wow — that’s, um, setting the bar pretty low. You’d think that having an African-American as the nominee would provide incredible, unprecedented opportunity for grassroots get-out-the-vote. Particularly in the African-American community. What better opportunity to get families involved or the sorors and frat brothers. Students and grandmothers. And the NAACP sees this and says let’s get 5% more turnout?! Where’s the vision, inspiration and lofty goals to match the power of Obama’s Hope? And exactly where was the NAACP during all the blatant race-baiting to which they allude at the top of the email anyway?

I really hope the NAACP’s young new president Benjamin Jealous can bring stronger and more focused leadership to the NAACP both for their sake and for ours. And also thank goodness that new orgs like Color of Change have emerged that put action ahead of words.

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