Today’s the last day of Black History Month 2009, though we might as well call it Black History Year, for real. This has been a big Black History Month what with the black history that Barack and Michelle Obama create hourly plus the 100th Anniversary of the NAACP. Generations of my family have been NAACP members going back to my great-grandparents. So I’ve got a soft spot for them, it’s true. One of my father’s unfulfilled dreams before his death was to take his kids to see the then-new Baltimore headquarters of the NAACP (it’s ok, I’ve since been there on business). There was a time when the NAACP was dangerous, forceful, innovative, intellectual, direct, activist, on the cultural cutting edge. The Man used to be really scared of the NAACP. Those days right now belong mostly to history and not to our contemporary lives.

I have renewed hope that new, younger leadership can bring a revitalization and regained relevance to the NAACP. Even in the age of Obama, it’s not as if we don’t still need strong black leadership in America. It’s needed more than ever. In recent decades, the NAACP has become stodgy, safe, a favorite of the establishment and strangely on the sidelines on the issues most critical to African-Americans: healthcare, education, war, jobs, technology, environment, racial profiling & police brutality to name a few. It’s not clear anymore what being a member of the NAACP even means. It’s time to focus on attracting a energized generation who can offer new techniques, introduce new technologies and return the organization to its roots.

There are new leaders emerging among black folk — the NAACP can survive into the next 100 years only through connecting with and nurturing them. Can you teach an old dog new tricks or will sleeping dogs continue to lie as younger ones outrun and outraise them? We’ll find out. It’s telling that the NAACP Agenda for the next 100 years is posted on the NAACP website as a PDF but the Image Award winners merited an actual web page that sadly lacks links to any of the winners’ websites or the winning content itself. I was unable to find any video from the 2009 NAACP Image Awards on the NAACP website. I helped to almost triple the NAACP’s twitter followers through tweeting about the Netroots Nation event (video above) and their twitter handle. Yet the NAACP is still not following anyone on twitter and has yet to post a single tweet. If twitter is important for @donlemoncnn, @owillis, @barackobama and @davidgregory, surely the NAACP can do better.

There’s still work to be done and much to learn from Generations X & Y as well as the Millenials on the new communications paradigm. The NAACP has incredible resources in terms of funding, influence and talent. It’s time to use them more effectively to benefit the lives of not just African-Americans but all Americans because injustice anywhere is still injustice everywhere.

Earlier in February, I was pleased to have an opportunity to lead a discussion at the Beverly Hills Library with NAACP Youth & College Division National Director Stefanie Brown and the California NAACP Youth & College Division President Sean Dugar. The conversation pivoted around how the organization is shifting gears to meet the issues and challenges of the 21st century. It was a spirited discussion revealing insight into an organization that hopes to continue making positive black history. I’d like to thank Stefanie and Sean for adding their passionate contributions and candid perpectives to the dialogue on the next generation of Civil Rights in America. The video from the Netroots Nation Salon earlier in February is above. Thanks to the fine folks at Netroots Nation for organizing this event.

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