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. Dave

    Well if that isn't the pot calling the kettle black...

    July 14, 2010 12:27 am at 12:27 am |

    Let me get this straight. This rant is from a group whose sole purpose is to promote a single race of people to the exclusion and detriment of others??? Racism NE1???

    July 14, 2010 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  3. kim

    The NAACP is the most racially charged organization in the US. It does not suprise me they are calling another party racist. After all, anyone who doesn't agree with Obama politically, must be racist.

    July 14, 2010 12:35 am at 12:35 am |
  4. maryln48

    Finally someone is calling these people what they are I will never forget those pictures of Obama as Hitler or an African from the jungle, and the one where he looks like a monkey. That really hurt me that these people can be so disrespectfull to our president. These type of images are not patriotic, just like all the other loud mouths that are on the radio and tv calling him a failure. There are some people that will resist this hate and racisim like me, because the Republicans got us in this mess we are in and would rather have us fail than give this smart president a chance to fix what they have done, it didn't happen over night and it won't get fixed overnight. Give him a chance to fix the USA and when 2012 comes around we can vote him out. What are they so afraid of that he might succeed?

    July 14, 2010 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  5. key

    I wish they would reason with there extreme members like the one's that put up the sign of Hitler and Stalin come on. Obama in a coffin this man has children. I think want violence to occur.

    July 14, 2010 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  6. Leslie Song

    Amen to the NAACP, and I'm white. I am so sick of the racism that the tea-partiers and the republicans in general are broadcasting everywhere – their attempt to take Obama down through racist smears, lies, and racial hysteria disguised as loony propaganda about 'socialism, communism, and mythical 'government takeovers.' (How about we talk about the REAL corporate takeovers of our economy and politics, which are supported by tea-partiers, millionaire republicans, and right wing-activist judges like Alito and Roberts on the supreme court?) I am very heart-sick at tea-party/republican attempts to divide the American people from each other using fear tactics and race baiting – and when they deny this, it is even more disturbing – like they don't even know themselves. It is about time somebody called them out. And you know, if you don't want to be called racist, stop being racist!

    July 14, 2010 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  7. Franklin

    Did that artical really say "Colored People"? We going back to that colored instead of African American again? I give up. I can't keep up with the PC terms anymore.

    July 14, 2010 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  8. atlanta

    National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
    at least this group tells their agenda right in their name
    not for truth honesty morality advancement of freedoms fairness world brotherhood the end of divisions between the races
    NO this is the National Association for the Advancement of

    COLORED PEOPLE! The end ! and they scream racism everywhere they go. Well they should know shouldn't they?

    July 14, 2010 01:09 am at 1:09 am |
  9. Lindsay

    The last shred of respect I had for this organization just flew out the window along with, apparently, all reason. The NAACP has served and based on it's recent history, will continue to serve setting race relations in this country back 30+ years.

    July 14, 2010 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  10. Fed Up

    OK. Le'ts look at what the initials of this organization stand for. Who is racist?

    July 14, 2010 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  11. CaliforniaBC

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

    Well of course they did. The tea party are a bunch of ignorant, old white people who are incapable of anything else BUT angry derision. But then again they do have Palin but she's just completely ignorant.

    July 14, 2010 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  12. Joe

    What a crock ....this from a group that is racist from its very name the Advancement of colored people ONLY ...with Black History Mont and Black Miss USA, if the whites did this ...we would be stoned . Too bad no one has the guts to report on simple facts...when the Black population of a city reaches more then 14% the entire city becomes a city to avoid, because of high crime rates think New York ,Chicago,Atlanta,Washington DC,Los Angeles,Philadelphia,Miami,Detroit

    July 14, 2010 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  13. Jim

    Well, I've passed a resolution condemning the inherent racism in many members of the NAACP leadership. I also recommend that they change their name to the National Association for the Advancement of Liberal People (NAALP) or, perhaps the Liberal Advancement Association People (LAAP).

    July 14, 2010 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  14. Mark Buxman

    Excuse me, how can an organization that is racially specific call anyone a racist? If there were an NAAWP that would be labled racist. I personally am offended by someone calling me a racist because I feel Obama's politics are on the fringe of communism. Most of the people I know feel that he threatens our right to keep and bear arm's, our right to free speech, our right to choose our own health care, and our ability to keep our own money. Why am I considered a racist? It seems to me the NAACP is the far bigger racist when someone disagrees with this administrations policy or plan you must be a racist. I didn't agree with alot of Bush's or Clintons policys nobody called me a racist then. All but a few of my friends black, white or brown feel our rights are being slowly shaved away. I have a couple of friends who came here legall from socialist countries and even they are afraid of the direction this country is going and some of them are minority's, are they racist?

    July 14, 2010 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  15. J.V.Hodgson

    Two points:
    1) As usual there is no smoke without fire.
    2) If a senior member of the leadership has to tell the group there is no place for racism in the tea party and please leave. Then there must have been racism elements in the organisation, otherwise she could have said we need do nothing as this organisation is not racially biased.
    Problem in America is the media would then go and find a couple of racially prejudiced Tea partiers and the drama they need for 24 hour news explodes out of all proportion.
    So NAACP grow up, yes there are some tea party (or Republicans Democrats and others) racists, that is and will be life. it is not out of control so leave it alone for now.

    July 14, 2010 02:50 am at 2:50 am |
  16. Ted

    If the Tea party is racist because of a small number of racist members then so is the NAACP. Lee Alcorn anyone?

    July 14, 2010 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  17. Anonymous

    Just when you thought it was safe to get back into the water...

    July 14, 2010 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
  18. Chris

    I am glad NAACP is keeping the: "If you don't support Obama, you must be racist" argument alive.

    July 14, 2010 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  19. Donald

    Yeah we all seen the signs at some meetings. now i do understand not all tea party is racist but there are some in the group that are. Here is the problem, fox news will repeatly show people holding these racist signs and laugh makes jokes, show video of a congress man getting spit on and say well we cant see if happen. Heres a question 4 tea party, if u all are so call grassroot why u say the samething republicans say? And have republican leaders and funding? just wondering

    July 14, 2010 05:48 am at 5:48 am |
  20. jules sand-perkins

    The Tea Party movement concerns taxation, not racism.
    Some members of the movement may be racists–as are at least some members of the NAACP. Some members of my Christian church are racists.
    Racism is unrelated to the Tea Party movement's goals: to lower oppressive taxes and restore the freedom to prosper in this country.

    July 14, 2010 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  21. Dale

    Game on. This is total crap. NAACP has stepped over the line and the president must support it because he has not said one word condemning it. Awesome president... Go ahead and start the fight. Good job Mr. President you got your wish.

    July 14, 2010 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  22. an american

    I like how the tea party and palin always has to put false adjectives when describing the tea party: "honest" "freedom loving" "being american" and "constitution loving". Like if your against the tea party, then your not any of those. The real crime here isn't the supposed racism of the "party", its the exaggerted truths or outright lies the followers are told. Being an american means thinking for themselves.

    July 14, 2010 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
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