Bond Blasts Congressional GOP: Leadership Called Hostile to Civil
Bill McAllister, Washington Post Staff Writer
Washington Post, Sunday, February 21, 1999, page A7
© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company
Less than 12 hours after President Clinton asked the NAACP to
support his domestic policy agenda, the group's chairman replied
yesterday with a sharp attack on the Republican congressional
leadership, charging "they have become the running dogs of
the wacky radical right."
Chairman Julian Bond cited what he said is GOP resistance to civil
rights legislation and told his organization's annual meeting
that it faced as important a challenge in Washington as it has
confronted in its 90 years.
leadership of the House and Senate is more hostile to civil rights
than at any time in the recent past," Bond said. He cited
legislation that new House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)
cosponsored last year that "would have eliminated all federal
equal opportunity programs in education, employment and contracting."
attack on the GOP came hours after Clinton went before the NAACP
to warn against complacency because of good economic times. "We're
in a lot better shape than we used to be in, but we're nowhere
near where we ought to be," Clinton declared at a Friday
night reception here.
morning, as the group convened to sing "Happy Birthday"
to itself, Bond criticized Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.)
for attacking Clinton's "conduct and character," saying
he wanted to do the same to Lott.
attacked Lott for his friendly speech in 1992 to the Council of
Conservative Citizens, which has ties to white supremacist groups.
Bond said he was alarmed that "to date, no member of the
Senate, not one Democrat and not one Republican, has spoken out
against this outrage."
NAACP chairman, who yesterday was elected to a second one-year
term as head of the Baltimore-based organization's board, called
the silence "a scandal and a shame."
and Kweisi Mfume, NAACP president and chief executive officer,
were pressed over a sharp increase in annual membership dues that
becomes effective March 1. The increase, the first in 16 years,
will raise the basic dues from $10 to $30.
you're going to go to $30, we're going to lose all our small chapters,"
complained Esther A. Trice, president of the 60-member Huntingdon
County, Pa., chapter.
isn't free," Bond responded, citing a civil rights refrain
from the 1960s.
and Mfume argued that the increase was one of the key steps they
have taken to improve the 500,000-member organization's finances.
While Bond conceded it might cause a temporary dip in membership,
he predicted that the NAACP's overall membership will rebound
to 1 million in three to four years.
that estimate in part on a new direct mail effort to get membership
renewals. It replaces the organization's old method of depending
on individuals to personally contact members each year, a procedure
Bond argued leads to a large membership turnover each year.
organization, which was in deep financial trouble a few years
ago, is out of debt and on sound financial ground, the leaders
told a gathering of about 500.
back," declared Bond, a former Georgia state senator and
civil rights pioneer who is a professor at American University
and the University of Virginia. "We're tall, tan, rested
and ready, and we'll pay whatever it costs to see this light of
freedom shine ahead -- or we'll know the reason why."
both men have vowed to remain leaders of the organization, Mfume,
a former Democratic congressman from Baltimore, had to turn aside
suggestions that he might run for mayor there. "This is the
biggest challenge I've had in my life," he told a news conference.
"I'm not going to run away from it."