A few minutes ago, NAACP officials asked me to leave the NAACP’s seminar on “civic engagement.” The seminar was listed in the official program, among several concurrent workshops.
However, I was soon informed that it was “not open to media.” I complied by leaving, though not before collecting my belongings, including the NAACP’s manual for voter registration, canvassing, and get-out-the vote efforts in 2012.
The few seconds of video below are all that I managed to obtain before being asked to leave.
Shortly before I left, I witnessed the session’s moderator, Derrick Johnson of the NAACP board of directors, telling the assembled audience that while the NAACP was officially a non-partisan organization, “one party upholds our values more,” which is why it was important to be “civically active” in elections.
It was clear to all present that Jackson was referring to the Democratic Party and urging his members to support it.
Jackson also told the seminar that the “teabaggers” are the second coming of the Redeemers, the Southern whites who reversed many of the rights that freed slaves had gained in the aftermath of the Civil War.
With audience members nodding and calling out agreement, Jackson claimed the Tea Party had used fear to retake state governments in the old Confederate South, and were enacting voter ID and other laws to cement their power.
There is nothing wrong with an organization holding a closed-door session–as long as it is clearly advertised as such, and as long as it is not subsidized by the public.
The official program for the NAACP convention indicates that the voter registration seminar is sponsored by Edison International, which is a utility company whose local subsidiary, Southern California Edison, provides electricity to millions of households in the area.
Moreover, there is nothing wrong in principle with the NAACP getting involved with voter registration. It is less clear, however, why the NAACP would be involved in canvassing, voter turnout and getting out the vote–all of which occupy a significant portion of the NAACP’s thick manual.
It would seem, given Jackson’s remarks, and my ejection, that Democrats plan to use ostensibly “non-partisan” groups like the NAACP to push voters to the polls in 2012. And they’d rather no one knew about it.