Chairman Bond Accuses Civil Rights Opponents of Using Lies and Distortions

Julian Bond, Chairman, NAACP National Board of Directors, told delegates to the 96th Annual NAACP National Convention that "today's civil rights movement doesn't suffer from its imagined excesses, but from the lies and distortions of its opponents."

Speaking at the convention's opening public mass meeting, Bond outlined what he calls the "new racist ideology" used by opponents of civil rights. In recent years, Bond said "the enemies of justice and fair play have whittled away at the components of the progressive coalition" that includes the NAACP. He said: "They have successfully promoted deeply flawed economic and foreign policies. They have passed tax cuts that were not only unfair but unaffordable. Ideas of government that were marginal, even delusional, have moved to center stage. The wacky has become the reality; the unimaginable is now taken for everyday truth."

Conservative lawmakers have "restricted access to the courts, capped damages for even the most egregious practices, eviscerated class action lawsuits, and not coincidentally, shielded industry after industry from legal scrutiny," said Bond. Moreover, "They've tried an aggressive campaign to seduce black clergy and create a brand new political party, whose initials are F-B-G. That stands for the Faith Based Grant Party. Their hope is to create an alliance of the neo-cons and the theo-cons, all tied together by federal cash," he added.

Bond called on Congress to reauthorize key provisions of the Voting Rights Act that is due to expire in 2007. One is the portion which allows federal observers to go to certain jurisdictions where there is evidence of voter intimidation; second is the section which provides bilingual assistance to voters; and third is the section which requires "pre-clearance" of changes to voting practices and procedures in covered jurisdictions. These include redistricting, annexation, at-large elections, polling place changes and new rules for candidate qualifying. He said all of these can be used to discriminate.

The Chairman said: "Anyone who claims that voting rights for minority Americans are now secure need only look to Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. A recent report said that 28 percent of all Ohio voters and 52 percent of black voters said they experienced problems in voting. And a dismal 19 percent of black voters expressed confidence that their votes were properly counted."

Bond said, "And right here in Milwaukee, a cowardly and non-existent group calling itself the Milwaukee Black Voter League distributed a leaflet just before last fall's election, telling black citizens they couldn't vote for President if they'd already voted in an election that year; that a traffic violation made them ineligible to vote; that conviction for anything by anyone in a voter's family made the voter ineligible and that violating any of these restrictions would result in a prison term and the seizure of their children."

On the topic of economic development, Bond said "racial discrimination is a prime reason why the gaps between black and white life chances remain so wide. And we believe that to the degree we are able to reduce discrimination and close these race-caused gaps, we will see the lives of our people improve and their prosperity increase."

As the nation waits for President Bush to nominate a candidate for the U.S. Supreme Court, Bond said, "We wait in trepidation." He said the NAACP "will support any nominee who stands for justice and fair play, and oppose any who is hostile to civil rights and civil liberties." He noted that to date, Bush nominees to the federal district courts "are some of the most conservative of any recent president. "On racial discrimination, the President's federal district judges score the lowest of any modern chief executive." He said: "The ideas they hold, the rulings they have made and their speeches place them in a dim and gloomy legal netherworld where few Americans wish to dwell."

Bond told the audience: "The ideas they hold, the rulings they have made and their speeches place them in a dim and gloomy legal netherworld where few Americans wish to dwell."

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