July 13th, 2010
10:50 PM ET
13 years ago

NAACP passes resolution blasting Tea Party 'racism'

Washington (CNN) - The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has passed a resolution that condemns what it feels is rampant racism in the Tea Party movement.  Members passed the measure on Tuesday at the NAACP's 101st annual convention being held in Kansas City, Missouri.

Tea Party activists have swiftly denounced the action as unfounded and unfair.

The resolution pits the nation's oldest civil rights organization, with a storied history of wins on behalf of racial justice, against a grassroots conservative movement that has won some recent political races and is flexing its muscle in Republican circles.

“We take no issue with the Tea Party.  We believe in freedom of assembly and people raising their voices in a democracy,” NAACP President and CEO Ben Jealous said in a statement.

“We take issue with the Tea Party’s continued tolerance for bigotry and bigoted statements.  The time has come for them to accept the responsibility that comes with influence and make clear there is no space for racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in their movement,” Jealous added.

Leaders of the conservative movement reacted to the NAACP action with swift and angry derision.

“I am disinclined to take lectures on racial sensitivity from a group that insists on calling black people, ‘Colored,’” Mark Williams, national spokesman of the Tea Party Express, told CNN.  “The Tea Party [movement] is about the constitution of this country…[and] ensuring equality for each and every individual human being.”

Former Alaska Gov.  Sarah Palin, a Tea Party favorite,  said the charge from the NAACP is “false, appalling, and is a regressive and diversionary tactic to change the subject at hand.”

“To be unjustly accused of association with what Reagan so aptly called that ‘legacy of evil’ is a traumatizing experience, and one of which the honest, freedom-loving patriots of the Tea Party movement are truly undeserving,” she wrote in a posting on her Facebook page Tuesday night.

Related: Palin responds to allegations of Tea Party racism

Palin said the only purpose of such an accusation is to dissuade Americans from joining the Tea Party, a movement she said is “motivated by love of country and all that is good and honest about our proud and diverse nation.”

But NAACP leaders feel there is ample evidence of racism to prove Palin and other Tea Party racism deniers wrong.  Hilary Shelton is the NAACP director of its Washington bureau and senior vice-president for advocacy and policy.  In an interview with CNN he laid out what the group feels is the proof.

“After observing Tea Party activities throughout the country – which culminated with the outrageous and racist behavior of Tea Party activists during the historic congressional vote to pass into law comprehensive healthcare legislation – the NAACP began more closely investigating the Tea Party.  Specifically as it was reported to us that Tea Party activists spat on [Congressman] John Lewis, a veteran civil rights activist and associate to Dr. Martin Luther King, and called Congressman Emanuel Cleaver the 'N-word' and called [Congressman] Barney Frank … one of the first openly gay members of Congress, the "F-word," Shelton said.

Other claims from the NAACP: Tea Party activists have engaged in racist behavior, for example, by waving signs that degrade African-Americans and President Obama, in particular, and a number of activists think that issues of importance to African-Americans get too much attention.

Shelton told CNN that “rather than talking about the real issues of these incidents that have happened … [activists] wind up blaming the messenger.

“It seems like its denial ... that allows them to focus on themselves,” Shelton said.

Many Tea Party leaders have, in fact, publicly denounced elements of prejudice.  During a May 6 interview on ABC’s daytime program, “The View,” Amy Kremer, current chairman of the Tea Party Express, pointedly looked into the camera and told any prejudiced followers, “This is not a racist movement. We don’t want you here. Go away if that’s what you’re about. We’re about the fiscal issues and about being American.”

Williams told CNN, “We’ve had these people show up on the fringes of our group … because we attract TV cameras. What these people all universally learn, the racist groups included, is that they’re not welcome.”

Other Tea Party leaders have also publicly spoken out against racism in their movement.

While Shelton acknowledged the effort from “a few” leaders, he told CNN that the level of repudiation is not stopping displays of racism from many Tea Party followers.

“Not only are some elements of the Tea Party movement being resistant to that [message of repudiation] but we’ve seen some elements acting out, in some cases, in a violently racist behavior. And that is what we want to see stop,” Shelton said.

Shelton cited the movement’s loose-knit patchwork of small, local groups that might not tow the line of Tea Party leaders.

Filed under: Extra • NAACP • Popular Posts • Tea Party movement
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Dennis in AZ

    Who knew that's what NAACP stood for? I thought it stood for Never Again Ask Congress Please! Actually, this is indicative of an agenda with no concrete conclusion. It's a shame that such a trail-blazing, level-headed organization with a clear and noble goal could become such a bitch for the current white house administration. I think the organization as a whole needs to re-think their leadership.

    July 13, 2010 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  2. Dane0198

    When the NAACP denounces the Blank Pather's and the hate speech from "rev" Wright, then I'll actually care what they have to say.

    July 13, 2010 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  3. Tina in PA

    I don't think all teaparters are racist but I do think a lot a racist are attaching themselves to the teaparty. It's up to the teaparty to disassociate themselves from the racist, President Obama was not born here idiots. Most people respect intelligent debate, but all this ignorant stuff cancels out all they stand for.

    July 13, 2010 11:06 pm at 11:06 pm |
  4. Indiana Voter

    So, the biggest racist organization in America is calling another organization "racist" because it opposes big government and Obama's job killing agendas. Hey, I have an idea, let's start an organization called "The National Association for the Advancement of White People." Apparently it is not racist if it is a national organization focused only on one race's advancement. Idiots!

    July 13, 2010 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  5. snow

    There is no organization more racist than the naacp other than possibly the new black panther group but that is only about 7 of these people.

    July 13, 2010 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  6. one voice

    The teaparty crowd should be called the "0 I.Q. party"

    July 13, 2010 11:12 pm at 11:12 pm |
  7. Stan

    The NAACP has now fully entered into the realm of being a disgraced organization. It is a shame for such a historic group to have denigrated into such trash.

    July 13, 2010 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  8. Mike in San Antonio

    So, let me get this straight, an organization specifically form and populated by one race over all others is calling another non-singular race group, racist...yeah, that makes perfect sense in this PC world.

    July 13, 2010 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  9. Brian S.

    CNN did not provide the complete reslution, so, what, exactly, does the NAACP want? Can any large group completely contain/stop/respond to everything that any one "member" might do? And what about the outrageous comments by Jesse Jackson, calling the Cleaveland Cavs owner a slave owner? The owner made some rash, rediculous remarks. But were they remotely racist? I don't see how.

    July 13, 2010 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  10. daniel

    When will the NAACP denounce the new black panther party leadership? Pass a resolution against them and this one will have some credibility.

    July 13, 2010 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  11. FM

    What we understand the Tea Party is mainly republicans. It is so sad after they lost election in 2008, their reaction with their leader from Alaska was not a civilised one. I wish they could have been gentlemen/gentleladies and agreed to lose gracefully the way Sen. McCain did!

    July 13, 2010 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  12. Andy

    When is the last time the NAACP did anything beside stir up hate,the NAACP has outlived its usefulness and is now a racist organization.Why does the NAACP not work on real problems.

    July 13, 2010 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  13. gail

    I've been to more than a dozen tea party events; never see a racist sign or heard a racist word. I don't like Obama, think his incompetence is doing great harm to the country. I've seen many anti-Obama signs.

    The NAACP is completely irrelevant and looking for some press.

    There is a $100,000 reward to anyone who can prove that Congressman Lewis was spat on or called names. Hasn't been claimed in spite of all the phone cameras all around. He lied. If anyone did something like that other tea party members would ask them to leave.

    Like I said, the NAACP wanted attention. Shame on them. They and the black liberation folks are the racists. I've just recently learned that racist garbage is taught in church.. It's a disgrace.

    July 13, 2010 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  14. ToughLove

    I am a minority whose earliest memory includes hearing someone shout a racial slur at my father and I say...The race card is so overused by the politically motivated that it has been rendered a cheap parlor trick that does not convince the intellectually honest. Conservative does NOT equal racist. And it's not an argument that's going to win any elections, either.

    July 13, 2010 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  15. U.S. Common Sense

    Not surprised. They ignore real racism and go after fake racism. Maybe the tea party people should throw around the "slave" allegations like Jesse Jackson, or cry out "kill blackies" in the order of the New Black Panther party. Seriously, if the NAACP can't police those they claim to represent first, then they have no credible standing when they go after others.

    And I don't say this because I support racism, but rather as pointing our reality. Racism will always exist as there are differences between groups of people. It is a natural aspect of society. Most people are intelligent enough to move beyond physical appearances, but there will always be a group of bigots.

    July 13, 2010 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  16. Nita

    Why did it take so long for the NAACP to denounce the Tea Parties.
    Where they afraid to be called whinners? The Tea Party is a republican group of racist people. Not all republicans are racist but the Tea Party wing of the republican party is very racist.

    July 13, 2010 11:43 pm at 11:43 pm |
  17. Gil

    Not only racist, but unintelligent old foggies who accept Soc. Security and then call our President a socialist. Nut cases all of them, led by sarah pathetic!

    July 13, 2010 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  18. Jay

    This really just seems silly to me. I mean, whatever, you can disagree with the Tea Party or think that they're "unsophisticated," or something. But what's the benefit of "formally" calling them racist? What does the NAACP want them to do? They've made quite clear how much they disdain fringe racists who try to identify with the movement. Are there some nuts doing stupid things? Of course. But find me any political movement or organization, including the NAACP, that doesn't have that. The Tea Party is just like any other mass political movement - it's loosely held together by very basic general principles, and there are some crazy people who want to associate with it. That may not be ideal, but it's no different from the "Yes, we can!" crowds.

    July 13, 2010 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  19. roro

    Why don't you just admit it? We can see it plainly in all your demonstrations, the things you say, and the posters you're holding up. Who do you think you're kidding?

    July 13, 2010 11:50 pm at 11:50 pm |
  20. once upon a horse

    people such as Sarah Palin, who allowed people at her own rallies to yell hateful and racist things about then candidate Obama and did NOTHING about it seem to always turn a blind eye to racism, UNLESS it's a situation like the police had in the Mass. case then they are all over it. The Tea Party movement itself may not be racist BUT there are a bunch of racists in the Tea Party and they have come front and center. It's been on tape and is not covered up but the GOP is afraid to do something about it because it might "upset their base". Poor excuse if you ask me. Typically though those who haven't been the victim of racism are the ones who fail to see it when it occurs.

    July 13, 2010 11:59 pm at 11:59 pm |
  21. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    Wanting the federal government to stop chipping away at our freedom and mortgaging our children's future is now considered racism. What a bunch of idiots.

    July 14, 2010 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  22. addon

    Come on TeaFreaks....get in the fight. Look at some of the reports on what's going on in afghanistan.

    You people sicken me and the majority of real americans. You have taken no time to disparage the adminstration of one (1) GW Bush about draining our national treasure. But yet you fight tooth and nail against a President (Barack Obama) for bring back accountability to the middle class.

    Your racist solutions are to deny this president any victories at the suffering of americans that funded the debacle in Iraq by denying unemployment benefits. How many Iraqis(though we made the mistake) deserve the trillions of $'s we gave them but we can be charitable to those that have paid into our system?

    You racists sicken real americans like me. Walk up to the next african american and tell them that they are a blight on this country and you want your country back. Are you in fear? Are you a hypocrite? My guess is "yes"

    July 14, 2010 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  23. George of the jungle

    The NAACP is on the right track. Most of these looney wingnuts come off as racist. Im sure some are not . But the vast majority are. Comments like taking the country back. It hasent gone anywhere. And pictures of our president dressed up like an african are not only racist but insulting to over 50 % of the population who voted for this fine man. I hope people will look at these hateful looneys and vote for more intellegent people come mid term. We don't need nut jobs who are still trying to raise issues with the presidents birth certificate.If you vote for these nuts the country will really be in bad shape.

    July 14, 2010 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  24. Don Jenkins

    Maybe the NAACP should take the 'C' out of its name before it accuses others of racism.

    July 14, 2010 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  25. Darth Vadik, CA

    By the way, a dog is most dangerous when it is cornered, just like he Republicans are, that is why they are picking these extreme members like Angle and Rand Paul, this is their last hurray, the desparate hail Mary, the last gasp...

    ...but aside from a couple of bite marks and scratches we'll get from the dying cornered dog, we'll put it out of its misery pretty soon 😉

    (How many more years of life does this degenerate white segregationist baby boomer generation have left, 5, 10? I don't see many new Republicans replacing them...)

    July 14, 2010 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
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