Video: Mitt Romney spoke Wednesday, July 11, 2012 in Houston at the annual convention of the NAACP. President Obama will not

July 9, 2012

Government/Politics

Mitt Romney low-key on civil rights, in contrast to his father
As governor of Michigan, George Romney pressed an aggressive agenda on the issue, putting himself at odds with Republican Party leaders. His son presents a different figure.
 
By Maeve Reston
Los Angeles Times
 
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — In 1963, an explosive year in the quest for civil rights, George Romney appeared unannounced in the mostly white suburb of Grosse Pointe and marched to the front of an anti-segregation demonstration to stand beside black leaders.
 
Letters from startled constituents poured into the office of the first-term Michigan governor, whose son Mitt was then 16. Supporters who had helped the elder Romney win his narrow victory the previous November said his actions made him “a double-crosser” and a “Judas” to the people who voted for him. Their diatribes were sprinkled with warnings that they would work against him: “You are a ‘dead duck’ for 1964,” one detractor typed above a newspaper photograph of a shirt-sleeved Romney walking shoulder to shoulder with civil rights activists.
 
Romney pressed ahead with an aggressive civil rights agenda that ultimately put him at odds with the leaders of his party. He refused to back Barry Goldwater as the 1964 Republican presidential nominee because, he told Goldwater in a letter, he was alarmed by indications that Goldwater’s strategists “proposed to make an all-out push for the Southern white segregationist vote” and “exploit the so-called ‘white backlash’ in the North.”
 
George Romney began pushing reforms to end discrimination toward minorities in housing soon after taking office in 1963 — work that would lead to his highly controversial effort to integrate the nation’s white suburbs as President Nixon’s secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He launched his own 1968 presidential run after a 19-day tour of the ghettos of 17 cities, turning a spotlight on the decay and overcrowding that had contributed to riots in Detroit and elsewhere.
 
His son, running against the nation’s first black president 44 years later, leaves a very different impression. Mitt Romney rarely mentions his father’s efforts on civil rights and declined an interview request to discuss how that work influenced his own agenda on those issues, which have not figured prominently in his own career or presidential campaigns. (The only memorable time it has come up publicly was in 2007, when he mistakenly said he had seen his father march with the Rev.Martin Luther King Jr.He later said he meant the word “saw” in a “figurative sense.”)
 
Although he will address the NAACP’s annual convention on Wednesday, Romney has campaigned over the last year in front of predominantly white audiences. A rare exception to that pattern was his May visit to a charter school in a mostly black area of west Philadelphia, where he promoted his plans to push for more school choice. There he called the education achievement gap between minority and nonminority students “the civil rights issue of our time” for “people of color in this society.”
 
When Romney took over as governor of Massachusetts in 2003, the state still bore the tensions of wrenching battles over school busing and other race-inflected disputes. He assembled a group of black leaders that served as an informal “kitchen Cabinet” and met with him quarterly throughout his administration.
 
But he got off to a rocky start with other civil rights activists when he issued an executive order that eliminated the Office of Affirmative Action and replaced it with a new Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity. Opponents argued that by eliminating previous executive orders, he had taken the teeth out of the state’s enforcement of affirmative action.
 
Romney said he was merely trying to streamline outdated executive orders. At a heated town-hall-style meeting at a black church, he said he was not looking to change any provisions that ensured “diversity in our commonwealth,” the Boston Globe reported.
 
Romney said he would suspend his changes and wait for recommendations from an appointed panel, but he never took action on its suggestions. Critics were not impressed.
 
“He has no record on civil rights,” Leonard C. Alkins, a panel member and then-president of the Boston chapter of the National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, said in an interview.
 
The Rev. Jeffrey L. Brown, one of the black pastors who met quarterly with Romney, had a different take. “It showed me that he was a guy who listened; that he wasn’t rigid,” said Brown, whom Romney later asked to oversee care for Hurricane Katrina evacuees.
 
Romney and his defenders noted that 37% of state hires during his term were minorities. Though he was criticized for a lack of diversity in his judicial appointments, half of his top advisors were women, ranking Massachusetts ahead of the other 49 states, according to a 2004 study by the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society at the University at Albany.
 
Part of the shift in emphasis between father and son stems from demographics; in the decades since George Romney ran for office, the nation’s racial discussions have expanded from black and white to encompass Latinos and others.
 
 
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Video: Mitt Romney speaking at the 2012 NAACP convention

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Video: July 11, 2012 Mitt Romney speaks at the NAACP convention (Full Speech)

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Mitt Romney will speak Wednesday, July 11, 2012 in Houston at the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

 Source: NAACP
 
(Washington, DC) – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will address the upcoming 103rd NAACP Annual Convention in Houston, TX. The convention will run from July 7 – July 12 at the George R. Brown Convention Center under the theme “Your Power, Your Decision – VOTE”.
 
“Every four years we invite the presidential candidates to address our convention, and we are delighted that Governor Romney has decided to join us,” stated NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. “Governor Romney will have the opportunity to speak to NAACP leaders from every state in the nation. We are proud to offer a forum to discuss the important issues of the day.”
 
“We are pleased that Governor Romney has decided to join us in Houston this summer,” stated NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous. “This election will be about how to provide the best future for all Americans, of every color and background. As America grows more diverse, we can choose to embrace that diversity or let it divide us. We look forward to an engaging conversation with Governor Romney about his vision for a more just society.”
 
Every presidential election cycle, the NAACP invites both the Republican and Democratic nominee for president to address the NAACP membership. In 2008, both Senator John McCain and then Senator Barack Obama spoke at the NAACP Annual Convention in Ohio.
 
During the convention, the NAACP will adopt a policy agenda that addresses the economic and social problems faced by communities of color. This year’s convention will build on the Association’s voter engagement and empowerment initiatives, with advocacy workshops on a myriad of vital issues, including civic engagement, health care, criminal justice, and climate justice.
 
 
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President Obama a no-show at NAACP convention
 

By Doug Miller

KHOU 11 News Houston
 
HOUSTON – There is a funny thing about the programs for this year’s NAACP national convention.  Amid all the lists of speakers and seminars there’s a full page, full color picture of President Barack Obama, touting him as the speaker at the final plenary session of the convention in downtown Houston.
 
There’s only one problem:  The president isn’t coming.
 
The convention organizers are already talking about their main concerns, from economic opportunity to what critics call “voter suppression” efforts to block African-Americans from voting.  But they’re also pardoning the president for declining their invitation and instead dispatching Vice President Joe Biden, even though Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney plans to speak next week.
 
“Well,, everybody would like to have the president wherever they are, which is why the president is not going to be able to make it,” said U.S. Rep. Al Green, the Houston Democrat whose association with the local NAACP dates back decades.  “There are many demands on the president.”
 
Organizers expect more than 8,000 visitors to come to Houston for the convention, including delegates and their families.  Some of them showed up for registration on Friday, the day before the formal opening of the gathering at the George R. Brown Convention Center.  Workers driving forklifts, spreading carpet and setting up framework for booths spent the day preparing for the five-day event.
 
In many ways, it’s a standard convention with days full of arcane seminars and panel discussions bearing titles like “Collective Action Fundraising” and “How to Obtain Injunctive Relief on Election Day.”  But it also has the feel of an annual reunion for African-American leaders, both national and local, who get together every year in a convivial setting.
 
For many of the group’s leaders, the main emphasis is upon fighting for voting rights, especially here in Texas.  NAACP leaders have spoken out against voter ID laws like the rules passed, but not yet implemented, in Texas, which they say discriminate against African-Americans.
 
“There is concern with the voter suppression laws that we are fighting in Texas,” Green said.  “Obviously it’s great to the NAAACP to come to our town when we’re fighting these laws.  These laws would prevent people from voting who have been voting for years and years and years.”
 
But President Obama’s absence is conspicuous in an election year headlined by a difficult campaign for the nation’s first African-American commander-in-chief.  Nonetheless, black voters are in a mood to forgive him.
 
At Thelma’s Barbecue, a popular diner in a historically African-American neighborhood of southeast Houston, voters simply shook their heads and dismissed the notion that the president owed the NAACP a visit.
 
“As long as the issues are addressed that I’m concerned about, where he’s addressing them from doesn’t make a big deal to me,” said Stan Jones, a customer dining on a fried catfish lunch.
 
His co-worker,  Ferdinand Morrow, agreed and added that Romney probably won’t win any support by showing up here next week.
 
“Mitt Romney coming to this convention doesn’t mean anything,” Morrow said.  “He’s not going to persuade any black voters.  That is the reality.”
 
Romney is scheduled to speak on Wednesday.  Biden is expected to appear on Thursday.
 
 
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Brief historical NAACP facts
 
 
The NAACP established its national office in New York City in 1910 and named a board of directors as well as a president, Moorfield Storey, a white constitutional lawyer and former president of the American Bar Association. The only African American among the organization’s executives, W. E. B. Du Bois was made director of publications and research and in 1910 established the official journal of the NAACP, The Crisis.
 
Booker T. Washington opposed the NAACP because it proposed an outspoken condemnation of racist policies in contrast to his policy of quiet diplomacy behind the scenes.
 
Moorfield Storey was the first president of the NAACP from 1909 until his death in 1929.
 
William English Walling was the first Chairman of the Executive Committee 
 
Mary White Ovington was a principal NAACP founder and officer for almost 40 years and was appointed the NAACP’s first white woman executive secretary.
 
Joel Spingarn was elected board chairman of the NAACP in 1915 and served as president from 1929-1939.
 
James Weldon Johnson, a writer and diplomat, became the Association’s first black secretary in 1920.
 
Louis T. Wright, a surgeon, was named the first black chairman of its board of directors in 1934.
 
Roy Wilkins was chosen to be the executive secretary of the NAACP in 1955 and in 1964 became its first black executive director. Roy Wilkins retired as executive director in 1977.
  
Margaret Bush Wilson was the first African American woman to head the national NAACP board of directors. She became chairman of the NAACP in 1975.
 
In 1996 the NAACP National Board of Directors changed the executive director/CEO title to president and CEO.
 
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President Obama has attended the National Action Network convention
 
Video: Barack Obama at Al Sharpton’s the National Action Network convention 2007
Speaking about the support he wants to earn from the African American voting community

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Video: 2007 Senator Barack Obama makes his opening statements to the audience at the NAACP Democratic Candidate Forum in Detroit


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Video: Barack Obama at NAACP Annual Conference July 14, 2008

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Video: Barack Obama at NAACP Annual Conference 2009


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Video: President Barack Obama delivers message to the 102nd annual NAACP convention in 2011


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Video: Barack Obama at Al Sharpton’s the National Action Network convention in April 2011

 

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