president Bruce Gordon resigns from post after 19 months By
The Associated Press
(March 5, 2007) When Bruce S. Gordon was appointed president of the NAACP
19 months ago, some observers said it wasn't a good fit. Now the civil
rights organization must look for someone new to lead it in the wake of
Gordon's sudden resignation.
Dennis C. Hayes, the group's general counsel, will serve as interim
president. Hayes filled the same role after Kweisi Mfume resigned the
presidency in 2004.
Bruce S. Gordon, president of the National Association for the Advancement
of Colored People, responds to a question during an interview, in this
June 28, 2006 file photo in New York.
Gordon is quitting the civil rights organization, leaving after just 19
months at the helm, he told The Associated Press Sunday, March 4, 2007.
In a phone interview with The Associated Press from Los Angeles, Gordon
cited as reasons for his stepping down his clashes with board members over
management style and differing opinions over the organization's mission.
"I believe that any organization that's going to be effective will only be
effective if the board and the CEO are aligned and I don't think we are
aligned," Gordon said Sunday.
"I don't view this as I'm right and they're wrong. I view this as I see
things one way and they see things a different way. That misalignment
between the CEO and the board is unhealthy."
Julian Bond, chairman of the board of the Baltimore-based National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Gordon tried to
quit just six weeks after taking the job in August 2005, but Bond
convinced him to stay.
"There were occasions where it seemed just not to be a perfect fit," Bond
said. "But he had many, many great qualities, and he exhibited those
qualities when he worked for us. I'm disappointed that it came to this."
Gordon said that although the NAACP is an advocacy organization, his
vision was to focus more on finding practical solutions to black America's
Gordon repeatedly made clear that he wanted the NAACP to do more social
service work, said Rupert Richardson, a board member from Louisiana, but
board members balked.
"I think he saw his job as remaking us to make us more effective, but his
job was to do what the board and management wanted," she said. "He was not
a good fit for us, but he could have been."
Bond said, "Put simply, we fight racial discrimination and social service
groups fight the effects of racial discrimination. Service is wonderful
and praiseworthy and fabulous, but many, many organizations do it. Only a
couple do justice work, and we're one of those few."
Bond has acknowledged that, with 64 members, the NAACP's board of
directors is large and sometimes unwieldy. But he often says this allows a
wide range of members' voices to be heard.
Gordon, 61, was a surprise pick for the NAACP's top post. When he took
over, he had no track record in traditional civil rights circles. He had
spent 35 years in the telecommunications industry and retired in 2003 from
his post as president of the Retail Markets Group for Verizon Corp.
However, he smoothed strained relations between the NAACP and the White
House, meeting with President Bush three times in less than a year. He
used his corporate ties to lend quick assistance to black New Orleans
residents after Hurricane Katrina. And he hired a number of key national
employees whose reputations inspired staff members.
Gordon improved the NAACP's presence on the Internet and strengthened its
ties to corporate America,
Bond said Sunday. Asked if Gordon leaves any other legacy, Bond said,
Ronald Walters, a University of Maryland political science professor who
has followed the NAACP closely for years, was surprised that Gordon is
leaving, but said he had suspected that Gordon's business background might
make it tough to switch to civil rights work.
"I thought very early on that there might be a cultural conflict," Walters
said. "Somebody who came out of a corporate culture and was used to a set
of agenda items and management style in one field might not have been able
to make the adjustment totally to another field."
Gordon's departure throws the NAACP into disarray even as board members
prepare for centennial celebrations in 2009 that include a $100 million
Founded in 1909 by an interracial group that battled segregation and
lynching, the group helped win some of the nation's biggest civil rights
But the nation's racial progress has led some to question whether the
NAACP remains relevant. The group has about 300,000 dues-paying members,
Bond said, plus 100,000 non-paying members. It has run a deficit in recent
Asked about his plans after leaving the NAACP, Gordon said: "I'm going to
catch my breath."
"What I've clearly learned in my tenure here is that all is not well in
that's for sure," he said. "I believe I have a lot to offer. I've got to
find a way to be engaged that optimizes what it is I bring to the table.
My intention is not to disengage, but to find a different way."
in its eighth year of publication, Black Issues Book Review is
the only nationally distributed magazine devoted exclusively to covering the
latest news and reviews on black books. BIBR also provides up-to-date news on forthcoming author
signings, book fairs and book clubs.
Want this issue? Get it with your new subscription.
A TARGET MARKET NEWS
Annual Edition Available
'Buying Power' report shows black consumers spending more on home life
As the American economy continues to move sluggishly,
African-American households are curtailing their spending in many
categories, including food, clothing and basic household items, while
investing more in home repair, home entertainment and consumer
electronics. Although they are trimming back, black consumers are still
spending more than their white counterparts on most of these products. Story and statistics