By Jonathan Pitts, The Baltimore Sun
8:18 PM EDT, May 2, 2014
The NAACP will lay off 7 percent of its national staff as it continues to search for a permanent leader, a decision the civil rights organization says is necessary because of financial concerns.
"Like many nonprofits in transition during a difficult economic climate, the NAACP has taken proactive steps to improve [its] financial stability moving forward," said Derek Turner, an organization spokesman, in a statement Friday afternoon.
Turner did not respond to questions about how many people would lose their jobs, what roles would be cut or how many of them would be in Baltimore, where the organization has its headquarters.
"We believe this step will yield a leaner, more nimble organization for the 21st Century," he said in his statement.
Tessa Hill-Aston, president of the organization's Baltimore branch, said she had heard stirrings that such an action might be pending, but had not heard specifics when contacted by a reporter late Friday.
"Wow. I'd heard some rumors based on things going on at national, but I hadn't heard anything concrete," she said.
The announcement signaled renewed fiscal trouble for a 105-year-old organization that has been pivotal in the fight for equality in the United States, from working to overturn Jim Crow statutes to helping bring about desegregation of public schools.
The most recent president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Benjamin Jealous, had helped bring the organization back from financial stagnation, expanding its donor base from 16,477 when he took office in 2007 to more than 132,000 five years later and nearly doubling its revenues to $46 million in 2012.
Jealous, the organization's youngest president, also helped blunt criticism that its leadership had grown too old and out of touch. He fostered support for marriage equality measures that passed in recent year and raised awareness about the implications of teenager Trayvon Martin's death in Florida.
But Jealous left the job at the end of last year, citing family reasons, and the NAACP has yet to name a successor.
Also this week, the head of the NAACP's Los Angeles branch stepped down shortly after NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced he had banned Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life over derogatory statements about African-Americans.
Leon Jenkins, president of the Los Angeles chapter, resigned after it became known the chapter had planned to give Sterling — who had faced allegations of discriminatory conduct in the past — a second achievement award.
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