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Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP.

There was an extensive opening press conference for the NAACP national convention this afternoon at the Kansas City Convention Center. Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP, spoke on the economy and the goal of the convention:

Benjamin Todd Jealous, President and CEO, NAACP: ….These are tough times in our country. History has shown us that in tough times like these, great recessions and great depressions, there’s really only two choices, people of this country. Either we run downhill towards hate and division or we continue to push uphill towards progress and hope.  That choice of hope, not hate, the choice that the NAACP made a hundred and one years ago during a period of tough times – our country was being torn apart when black men were being burnt, hung from trees and burned, Catholic men and Jewish men, to a lesser extent. We were founded to resurrect the dream of Abraham Lincoln that this be truly one nation.  Because we knew that all of its people only had one dream. Which is the great American dream – universal access to prosperity and the things needed to realize the full potential within all of us…


…We come here this year, tough times – tough times in Kansas City, tough times in Missouri, tough times in our nation as a whole. People are impatient. They want to see results. They want to see change. They in many instances want to see all of the change that they voted for two years ago.

And there are, there is once again an insurgent movement in this country to tear this country apart. And if we pull off the veneer what we see behind them are wealthy law firms and fancy lobbyists like Dick Armey, this faux populist rage represented by the Tea Party. There is nothing new, and what is new is that this group of people is smaller than they have ever been in our society, smaller than the White Citizens Council, smaller than the Klan of the nineteen-twenties, but divisive and dangerous.

This convention is going on simultaneously with the convention of the National Council of La Raza and to the conventions of many religious and labor organizations around the country. All of whom have come together to begin pushing the country back uphill towards hope and prosperity, building our country up and making sure that jobs is job one for us. It is outrageous that the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Congress felt entitled  to go out on vacation without passing unemployment insurance. To take this let them eat hotdogs approach to starving families around the country, as if they could afford a hotdog when they’re surviving on three hundred dollars a week and you just decide to stop paying them because you would rather stop debating the issue and just get home to glad hand campaign.  It is disturbing that our Congress can find thirty-two billion dollars for war but can’t find twenty-three billion dollars to save hundreds of thousands of teacher’s jobs.

And it is time for the people of this country, the, the dynamic majority of this country that made history two years ago to reassert itself in streets across the country and say enough is enough, let jobs be job one. If we gotta spend more money to get out of the great recession, let’s do it, ’cause that’s what got us out of the Great Depression. We focused on creating jobs, we put the country back to work, and we pulled the country back together.

That will be our focus with our membership. That is our call to the country. And you will see the biggest mobilization in years on the Mall on October 2nd, one month before the election, to make sure that everbody’s, who is running for office in this country understands that jobs has to be job one.

Thank you and God bless. It’s going to be a great convention, we’re excited. [applause]


The 101st NAACP National Convention in Kansas City