By Rina Risper
The New Citizens Press

LANSING, MI —   In our March 4, 2007 to March 17, 2007 edition we wrote about an Ypsilanti, MI man, Attorney Ray Mullins whose membership was denied by the Lansing Branch of the National Association For the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). 
       Mr. Mullins received a letter dated January 26, 2007, from the Lansing Branch NAACP, which stated that The Executive Committee voted unanimously at its January 25, 2007 meeting not to accept his membership into the local branch.  Their reason for not accepting his membership was that it was the practice of their unit to accept membership from individuals who reside within the vicinity of the Greater Lansing community.
      On February 21, 2007 we received an e-mail response from Winston Williams, Jr. 1st Vice President of the Lansing Branch.  He stated that he would be willing to answer The New Citizens Press’ questions if we were to attend the next NAACP General Membership meeting on March 4th at 4:00 pm.
     Mr. Williams also stated, “At that meeting any questions that you have, can be brought to the floor before the members and those questions will be discussed and addressed.  We wish for this dialog with you and any concerned members on any matters to be open and honest.  I hope to see you at the meeting."
     On March 4, 2007 at the branch meeting the issue of denying Mr. Mullins was brought to the attention of the members and guests during the meeting.
     Lansing branch President James Gill became very loud as he rose out of his seat and said that he sets the agenda and the issue was not on the agenda.  He also said that it was a dead issue and they were not going to talk about it any further.
     Our questions to the Lansing branch are:
1.    Why did Mr. Williams state that the issues could be brought to the floor?  And why was Mr. Gill so agitated by the request for information?
2.    What authority was used to deny Mr. Mullins membership?
3.    What is the geographical jurisdiction of the Lansing branch?
4.    Are there any members of the Lansing NAACP who neither; live in or work in the Lansing Branch’s jurisdiction?
5.        Mr. Mullins is an attorney and if he has one client in the Lansing Branch’s jurisdiction does that qualify him?
      There were other items brought up in the meeting that were not on the agenda.
      The NAACP was supposed to be built on democracy and freedom.  Other members sat silent as the comments were made by Mr. Gill.  No one present challenged his ruling. We also wonder if this incident is documented in their minutes. 

National NAACP President Bruce Gordon Resigns

    At the annual National NAACP meeting in New York City that was held on February 15, 16 and 17 of 2007, National NAACP President Bruce Gordon told the NAACP board that he was resigning.
     During a recent interview with Tavis Smiley, Bruce Gordon was asked:
      Whether he perceived it as just a problem between a board and a CEO or a larger issue of an organization in trouble, Mr. Gordon answered:
     "The NAACP has two fabulous assets:   a well recognized brand and 2000 operating units across the country.  These are assets that can be very powerful, but they are underperforming.  There has to be an acceptance, a willingness to change.  You can’t do the same thing for 98 years and expect that you will succeed…. In business terminology we would argue that organizations that are no longer customer focused, who lose the heart of the customer, who lose the choice of the customer, will ultimately fail.  I’m afraid that at this very point that our organization is more internally focused than externally focused.  That keeps us from being great and allows us to only be good.  I think that the NAACP has powerful potential, but that potential will never be realized if we go about our work using 20th century approaches.
     What do you think?

Note:  There will be a future “Excuse Me are you Listening?” about March 4, 2007 and my thoughts about what happened at the NAACP meeting and my past experiences with that particular branch. We are also in contact with other individuals in Detroit who have various commentaries about the NAACP.  Your views are important to us.  Please remember that in order to print we will need your name, signature (if by letter, your address and your phone number for verification.  Thank you.