Julian Bond wants onlookers to understand that when the NAACP symbolically buries the “N” word on Monday the effort will be led by the younger members of the venerable civil rights organization.
“Seven young people are on our board of directors, and they are spearheading this initiative,” said Bond, the group’s chairman. “This is the continuation of a long fight against the denigration of African-Americans in popular culture. If it’s someone black or someone white, it’s equally wrong.”
The “N” word burial highlights the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s 98th annual convention, which kicks off Saturday and runs through Thursday. It’s the seventh time the convention has been held in Detroit.
More than 8,000 people are expected to attend. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff will speak at a dinner Tuesday, and a presidential candidates’ forum will be held Thursday.
The Baltimore-based civil rights organization first announced the “N” word burial in April. Delegates and supporters plan to march about a quarter-mile from Cobo Hall to Hart Plaza downtown where a eulogy will be given.
The issue was given a national forum in April when talk show host Don Imus directed racially derogatory comments at black members of the Rutgers University women’s basketball team.
“Images reflected in songs and music videos that show half-dressed African-American women being objectified or demeaned by men, or young African-American men as thugs must stop,” NAACP youth and college division director Stefanie L. Brown said in a statement. “These kinds of images promote hurtful and false stereotypes of young African-Americans.”
Bond, who will address the convention Sunday, said NAACP leadership has been in discussions with entertainers, especially rappers, about removing racial and gender-specific slurs from their music.
So far, No Limit Records CEO Master P, and rap legends Kurtis Blow and Eric B. have given their support.
On the political front, this convention also could be pivotal in who blacks vote for in the 2008 presidential election.
Even with the emergence of a black candidate, Democratic Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, as a legitimate contender for the White House, Bond and Dennis Courtland Hayes, NAACP interim president and CEO, say the organization’s policy is to not support a candidate or political party.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure African-American voter turnout is as high as it can be,” Bond said. “We hope we can push the process where urban decay, the demise of cities and fleeing of jobs can become real issues in the campaign.”
Any attention would be a change as the inner city isn’t even an afterthought for the Bush administration, Hayes said.
“This attitude must change,” he said. “The NAACP is very encouraged in having the opportunity to hear from the candidates themselves on just what they plan for this area.”
Bond said all Democratic candidates have confirmed participation in the forum. Of the Republicans, only former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has said he will attend.
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