Many changes have occurred to the civil rights movement over the years. The changes reflect the period in which the people of color strived to gain their rights (Putnam, 2000).
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Every generation of the movements, such as; Underground Railroad, Abolitionist Movement, and Non-violent Advocates enhanced the efforts of the people of color to advance their rights (Paden, 2010).
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was established after realization that the best way of advancing equal rights was through the judicial system. NAACP safeguards civil liberties of all men and women in the US to make sure that social justice is adhered to.
Fundamentally, human beings are made equal and endowed with unalienable rights by their creator. NAACP safeguards this fundamental belief (Paden, 2010)
Besides the role of monitoring guarding constitutional rights of the coloreds, NAACP plays an influential role of bringing social and judicial changes in the US. It advances political, economic, educational and social equality of the rights of all people to remove racial prejudices.
This mission is accomplished through the US judicial system. The NAACP leadership works against discrimination on racial grounds and crimes based on hate by ensuring that they are punished whenever they occur (Paden, 2010). This paper explains how NAACP uses its social capital influence to act in the US political system.
This influence is exhibited through: NAACP”s composition; ability to argue issues before the federal court; emphasis on economic programs and initiatives for members; engagement in social programs; prioritization of anti-poverty policy; policy shift that targets low income earners; policy to remove employment barriers for formerly incarcerated; stable relationship with financial institutions; and its involvement in provision of quality education and reform.
Composition of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
NAACP is made up of local branches, Youth and College Chapters, national membership and Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) programs. This makes the organization to be one of the largest advocacy organization concerned with challenges plaguing African American families.
With elaborately spread local volunteer infrastructure, the accumulated and organized wells of local credibility, expertise, and the ability to mobilize, the NAACP continues to be uniquely positioned to play a sustaining role in transformative change in the US political system.
For instance: through its State Conferences and local volunteer leaders, NAACP was instrumental in illegalizing the death penalty and racial profiling in 2009; successively lobbied for the passage of Racial Justice Act in North Carolina in 2009; in New York, members of NAACP assisted in enacting reforms which called for admission of drug addicts in rehabilitation centers; and in Florida, NAACP members assisted in reforming the state’s zero-tolerance school discipline policies (Paden, 2010).
Additionally, the NAACP has a comprehensive process of retraining and maintaining its network branches in modern community organization and mobilization. By partnering with Midwest Academy, NAACP established a curriculum that aids the branches to realize their potential as local community organizers and advocates.
The association also consists of youth councils, young adult councils and college and prison chapters across US. The group promotes significant programs at both national and local levels.
Protection of civil rights and fostering of black economic development are its primary areas of concern. In addition, the program represents organization’s commitment to fighting drugs, teen pregnancy and other social challenges that plague the black community (Paden, 2010).
NAACP’s Ability to Argue Cases before the Federal Courts
NAACP argues cases at the national level before the federal courts and lobbies for or against proposed laws and federal appointments. For instance, the association successfully blocked the appointment of judge Bork to the Supreme Court.
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This is a clear indication of how NAACP mobilized its local branches and capitalized on its national supremacy. The group lobbied in Washington, lobbied, protested and testified as part of a major coalition: involving Congressional Black Caucus; Leadership Council on Civil rights; and the American Way.
These groups represented minorities, women, labor and religious groups. At local levels, local branches throughout the country lobbied their Senators with cards, letters and phone calls opposing the nomination of judge Bork to the Supreme Court.(Paden, 2010).
NAACP’s Emphasis on Economic Programs and Initiatives for its Members
The NAACP puts more emphasis on economic programs and initiatives besides playing the primary role of monitoring civil rights and law enforcement. The association has had economic programs and policies to assist its members. The national programs include: Fare Share and NAACP Economic Development Corp created to help growth and development of minority businesses.
Fair Share seeks to enhance participation of blacks in policy making positions on the boards of major corporations, encourage promotions among blacks in management level positions in major corporations, implement an across the board affirmative action program that ensures aggressive recruitment, hiring and promotion of blacks at all levels in the corporate structure.
For instance, NAACP managed to secure an agreement with Pacific Bell which increased its advertising with minority owned media by 63%. The program encouraged many companies to buy more products and services from minority vendors.
This voluntary agreement has been signed by several firms including; Brown and Williamson Tobacco Corp, Walt Disney Productions Inc, Atlantic City Casino Association and others.
NAACP’s Engagement in Social Programs
It is also important to note NAACP’s social programs as a significant area of engagement. As NAACP settles to move into the future, the black population continues to be faced with many social problems that are central to the organization’s interest.
To exert more influence to its membership, NAACP engages in developing visible initiatives to address some of these social problems. These challenges have led the organization to adopt new priorities. For instance, new goals and directions were announced in 1987 at the National Convention.
The new thrust of the group was to concentrate on the areas of self help, quality education, economic development, and self discipline. This was to be done by freeing communities of crime, drugs, teenage pregnancies and high school dropouts.
These problems were addressed by another of workshops in the Convention. For instance, NAACP women’s auxiliary established programs to reduce teenage pregnancy. In addition, NAACP sponsors Afro–American Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics and Back to School/Stay-In-School programs to encourage black youth towards greater academic excellence.
The NAACP used to direct economic and social problems facing blacks and minorities to other groups, such as National Urban League. The group used to be reluctant to engage into such issues as crime, teen pregnancy and illiteracy as they were outside the organization’s initial scope and would spread their scarce resources.
In away, this aspect reduced their power of influence over its membership. Later, however, NAACP made affirm commitment to social programs. To fulfill these, the group engaged in efforts to expand its resource base through drives to attract both individual and corporate support (Paden, 2010)..
NAACP’s Prioritization of Anti-Poverty Policy
The founding bylaws of NAACP established the association as a highly centralized one whose activities would be implemented by local branches.
NAACP was centralized from the beginning and the national body maintained control over branches and membership. In the early 1960s, NAACP became increasingly worried about losing its members to other organizations as civil rights movement picked up steam.
The group also risked losing public’s perception of being the preeminent civil rights organization. NAACP had come under criticism for catering to the interests and of the middle and upper classes.
This perception and reputation made the group to be particularly concerned with maintaining its relevance to the movement as poverty became an increasingly important issue for civil rights organizations (Paden, 2010)..
NAACP’s Policy Shift to Target Low Income Earners
The recruitment strategies of other civil rights group became of great concern to NAACP. The group became more concerned with its image as an elite, top down organization as the number of active civil rights groups continued to grow.
These new civil rights groups were directly appealing to low income African Americans and stressed the significance of their participation in civil rights struggle. This competition had direct implications for NAACP’s recruitment strategies.
The group addressed its image concerning the direction it took in relation to political action and the masses. It had to move away from over-dependence on the middle class membership. It found the importance of reaching out to a greater number of African Americans.
To get closer to the masses, the group targeted simplification of strategies which enhanced awareness. For instance, NAACP instructed all its local branches to request representation on Community Action Program (CAP) boards to maintain the groups visibility as the preeminent civil rights organization.
The policy directions to branches were occasioned by the group’s desire to maintain its viability as a civil rights organization for all African Americans (Paden, 2010).
NAACP’s Policy to Remove Employment Constraints for the Formerly Incarcerated
NAACP also has well established policy of enlisting individuals leave U.S. prisons each year. Since the black community continues to face unique problems poised by those from incarceration yet encounter constraints to re-entry back to society.
These individuals are plagued with numerous constraints such as housing and employment, winning back custody of their children, voting, getting personal loans and obtaining other primary resources necessary for them to rebuild their lives.
In 2009, for instance, NAACP developed an employment strategy designed to remove the unnecessary barriers to employment for formerly incarcerated people. The aim was to ensure unnecessary freeze on employment do not hinder qualified people of color a chance to participate in gainful work.
The aim was also to encourage better living standards and to prevent discrimination against formerly incarcerated people as they are seeking to rebuild their lives through employment. The group works in concert with public and private sector employers in determining pragmatic solutions to this problem (Paden, 2010).
NAACP’s Relationship with Financial Institutions
The NAACP also strives to enhance relationship between financial institutions and the people of color and other disadvantaged minorities. The group advocates for fairness and transparency in the criteria of acquiring quality loans from financial institutions.
NAACP also uses its social capital to act in the US political system through advocacy on their economic inclusion. The group is engaged in ongoing programs that monitor and encourage corporate and industry diversity.
It also enhances the business strategy of diversity in public and private employment across America including: establishing taskforces aimed at developing strategies to assist largest employers to cease discrimination especially against formally incarcerated individuals; establishing measures of fairness and diversity such as Economic Reciprocity Initiative report cards with respect to employment and wealth creation avenues for the coloreds; opening gateway to leadership among its membership through summer internship program.
NAACP partners with the Money Management Institute in this initiative meant to prepare undergraduates from Black Colleges and Universities for leadership roles in the banking industry; and initiation of Madison Avenue Project to eliminate discrimination against coloreds in advertising sector to enhance diversity and equality (Paden, 2010).
NAACP Involvement in Provision of Quality Education and Sector Reforms
The NAACP recognizes that education defines civil and human rights issues of our time. Many schools in America continue to enhance segregation and do not prepare children to be reliable citizens.
The NAACP reasserted its presence nationally in 2009 in education reform by advancing an agenda to improve education quality while bridging racial disparities in access and outcomes that existed.
The plan assisted members of the educational community address the challenges in schools at every level of government and to build coalitions with an invigorated sense of clarity and hope. Through these comprehensive plan, the country tackled education disparities by addressing issues such as; quality of teachers, student career readiness, equitable resources, and others (Paden, 2010).
To date, the NAACP continues to advance key education programs in communities throughout the US, including: offering support and training to communities throughout the country, ensuring equitable distribution of education resource, and guard against racially disparate use of school discipline policies and teacher quality; enabling minority students access to gifted and talented educational programs; and increase the number of African American board certified teachers in schools throughout the US through an elaborate partnership with National Board of Professional Teacher Certification (Paden, 2010).
In sum, NAACP has an elaborate well established membership across the US. The group advocates for key cardinal issues that are fundamental to development of colored people.
Besides being the custodian of constitutional rights of African Americans and minorities, NAACP plays influential role of establishing social and judicial reforms in the US. It also advances political, economic, educational and social equality of the rights of all people to remove racial bias.
This mission is accomplished through the US judicial system. The NAACP leadership works against discrimination on racial grounds and crimes based on hate by ensuring that they are punished whenever they occur.
The paper has identified several issues that NAACP has sought to influence, including: issues of discrimination in social, economic, political, education, employment, and others.
Paden, C. (2010). Civil Rights Advocacy on Behalf of the Poor. Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania University Press.
Putnam, R. D. (2000), Bowling alone :The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Simon & Schuster, New York.