Monday, March 05, 2007


NAAC(P) -Ya! Wouldn't Wanna Lead Ya!

Barely a year and a half into the job, Bruce Gordon is O-U-T as president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The reason? Well, if this were a band, it would be that old reliable --
"creative differences":

"I believe that any organization that's going to be effective will only be effective if the board and the CEO are aligned and I don't think we are aligned," Gordon told The Associated Press. "This compromises the ability of the board to be as effective as it can be."
Julian Bond, chairman of the board of the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Sunday that Gordon tried to quit just six weeks after taking the job in August 2005, but Bond convinced him to stay.
"There were occasions where it seemed just not to be a perfect fit," Bond said. "But he had many, many great qualities, and he exhibited those qualities when he worked for us. I'm
disappointed that it came to this."
Gordon will give up his duties before month's end, Gordon said in a phone interview from Los Angeles, where he attended the NAACP Image Awards Friday.
When selected in 2005, former Verizon executive Gordon was a surprise choice, coming out of the business community rather than the civil rights and political worlds that previously had produced NAACP leaders.

He was praised from the start as a great choice, but one could see where
there could be possible tension:
Black Enterprise wrote that Gordon has "a track record too impressive to ignore."
"He was an outstanding corporate executive and a spectacular choice for the NAACP as it goes into next era of leadership," Earl "Butch" Graves, Jr., president of Black Enterprise magazine, said in an interview before Gordon's selection. "It's a good fit in that I think the organization needs to be shaken up."
Graves said Gordon will appeal to younger blacks, many of whom question the relevance of the 96-year-old organization that had a broad impact during the civil rights movement but has lost prominence in recent years.
"They need to reach out to a younger, broader audience who will see the relevance of being associated with this very important civil rights organization," Graves said. "How they design that and how Bruce creates the architecture for that remains to be seen, but I think that's challenge number one."
Tony Lewis, president of Verizon's Washington operation, said Gordon helped Verizon's culture evolve into one that was focused on customer happiness — and loyalty.
"He always said we had to make them trust the brand," Lewis said. Similarly, the NAACP "needs brand. They need to continue to grow with their market base."
So much for that.

Gordon's singular "achievement" -- if it can be called that -- in his tenure was managing to convince President Bush to address the NAACP's annual meeting in 2006 after the White House boycotted -- rightly, in my opinion -- the conference during the previous five years of Bush's term.

Perhaps Gordon was too thin-skinned to run a non-corporate entity. The comment above that he was ready to quit six weeks into his tenure might suggest that. But given the leadership problems that the NAACP has had since Benjamin Hooks ended a 15-year run, it seems that the onus has to be on the organization.

Pardon the bluntness, but the NAACP ain't going to change while Julian Bond still runs the board. He is too dogmatic, too ideologically-fixed, in a 1960s political mindset to allow growth for the group in the 21st century. It was Bond that created much of the conflict between the group and the Bush White House,
personalizing policy differences with the Republican Party, not once, but repeatedly.

This tended to put the NAACP president -- whether Gordon or his predecessor Kweisi Mfume -- in the position of trying to smooth things over.

And don't think that Bond doesn't have considerable sway over the other board members. Thus, it's not surprising that the organization president and the board would be out of step.

Now, with Gordon's early departure, the NAACP still -- as Earl Graves, Jr. said -- needs to figure out how to make itself relevant to a younger generation. Bond certainly isn't helping any.

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