"We're not doing overt freedom fighting anymore," Margaret Bush Wilson, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), said yesterday at the Law School.
Wilson said that the NAACP is fighting for civil rights in the '70s by getting corporations to create more jobs for minority group members. The NAACP is concentrating on employment because "you have to survive to deal with civil rights," she said.
Stressing the importance of the economy to civil rights, Wilson said that solutions to problems like the energy crisis can provide jobs for the unemployed and also improve the standard of living of minority groups.
You've Got A Friend
The NAACP now works "not only for black Americans, but for all Americans, including Native Americans, homosexuals, and women." Wilson also said that the NAACP must have a "global perspective."
Wilson contrasted the work of the NAACP of the '70s with its old role, but she said that the group remains a basic, grass-roots civil rights movement. She said, for instance, that the organization's members recently helped post a $1.6 million bond in a Mississippi suit.
"There are no circumstances under which I would support a move to change the name of the NAACP," Wilson said. She said that the NAACP's reputation is "formidable in many areas," and that the word "colored" is appropriate because "colored" describes the many kinds of people that the group cares about.
The Old Balance Scale
Students who heard Wilson speak said her description of the new ways that the NAACP is working encouraged them, but said the group should balance its old and new images and activities.
Shirley J. Wilcher, vice president of the Harvard Black Law Students Association and a third-year law student, said that Wilson's ideas are a "realistic step in terms of the civil rights struggle."
"I think she's perfectly right," said Doris E. Exum, a second-year law student. "As someone who participated in the sitins and protests of the '60s, I agree that now it's time to approach the problem from a new perspective," she said. "She has a tough job ahead," said Sylvester Turner, a second-year law student and president of HBLSA.