… [T]he NAACP … [for instance], seems to have taken a back seat in the [affirmative action] battle. For decades, the NAACP aggressively took on the issue of unequal educational opportunities, but the major highlight of this year’s annual convention was the symbolic burial — with a casket and pallbearers — of the “N” word.
Observers generally agree that there appears to be a degree of complacency among some Blacks, particularly the older generation, who wonder whether affirmative action is the most pressing issue facing the community.
“There are a number of issues that we must address, but the first and most important issue is that we have to restore the African-American family,” says Jesse Epps, a veteran civil rights and labor leader who is the founder of the National Union of American Families, a national nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia.
It was Epps who invited the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to Memphis, Tenn., in 1968 to rally on behalf of the striking sanitation workers. “If we work on all of the problems that the African-American family unitfaces, we won’t need affirmative action anymore. The Black family will be self-sufficient,” he says, adding that the time has come for Blacks to look to other solutions, particularly given the current political climate.
That kind of rhetoric comforts [Ward] Connerly, who has been waging the battle to dismantle these programs for more than a decade.
“I sense a definite resignation on the part of the establishment,” says Connerly, who has already claimed victory. “It’s clear that the mainstream civil rights people are resigned to the inevitable. If I were them, Iwouldn’t spend one penny fighting what they know is coming. Instead, they should be sitting down and negotiating with people like me.”