NAACP President Kweisi Mfume Steps Down

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) announced on November 30th that Kweisi Mfume, President and CEO, will leave his position as head of the Association he has led since 1996. Dennis Hayes, General Counsel, has been named as interim president and CEO while a national search for a new chief executive is conducted.

Mfume said he is stepping down from his position effective January 1, 2005. To help assure a smooth transition to a new administration, Mfume has agreed to serve as a consultant to the NAACP until July 1, 2005.

Mfume said he decided it is time to pursue new challenges in media, politics and business. He went on to say: "For the last nine years I've had the honor and privilege to help revive and restore the nation's oldest and largest civil right's organization. The people I have met along the way and the lessons I have learned have been invaluable, but sadly for me the time has come to set sail and to chart a new course.

Today I prepare to step forward into an America of greater need but also into an America of greater hope. I believe that it is out of that sense of hope that we will find the self-renewal so desperately needed, to bring about progress in the nation that we love. In order to win the fight against poverty, eliminate discrimination and foster greater tolerance for the persons and things that we find different from ourselves, we are obligated to work together in coalition for the greater good.

The future that is before all of us also requires that we find new ways to change old habits. For the NAACP and organizations like us it also means understanding our ever changing political/social environment, so that it is made to work for us and for those who need help the most. Only by conforming to the reality of today's battlefield do we avoid being consumed by it.

Hence, my lifelong fight for positive and lasting change in public education, economic development, youth outreach, healthcare and employment opportunities does not end with this announcement. In fact, it begins anew. My decision to move on should be seen for what it is; another choice to seek another challenge, and another chance to make a difference.

My sincere thanks go out today to Julian Bond, our Board of Directors, our staff and to NAACP'ers everywhere for the opportunity and the honor to serve."

Julian Bond, Chairman, NAACP National Board of Directors, said: "Kweisi Mfume came to the NAACP when we were nearly bankrupt and our reputation under siege; he left sure re-election to the Congress to help save the NAACP. In short order he and our former Chair, Myrlie Evers-Williams, restored us to solvency and to primacy among civil rights organizations. He has been one of the most effective spokespersons for justice and fair play. We are saddened by his departure, but wish him well in his future pursuits."

The NAACP Board of Directors unanimously elected Mfume to the post of President on February 20, 1996. Previous heads of the NAACP carried the title Executive Director. Mfume gave up his seat in the United States Congress where he had, for 10 years, represented Maryland's 7th Congressional District, to assume the NAACP presidency. Mfume's background includes seven years as a member of the Baltimore City Council and a radio and television broadcaster.

Hayes, who previously served as interim Executive Director and CEO after the resignation of Executive Director Benjamin Hooks, said: "While the search for a new president is conducted, the NAACP will continue to lead the fight for civil rights and will move aggressively to strengthen the relationship between our 2000 affiliates (adult branches and college chapters) and the national office."

The NAACP has led the effort for social justice for nearly 100 years and through programmatic initiatives remains visible with adult branches, youth councils and college chapters in the United States, Japan, South Korea and Germany.

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