The national board of the NAACP voted Friday to dismiss the organization’s president, the Rev. Cornell William Brooks, just three years after putting Brooks in charge of the nation’s largest and perhaps best-known civil rights organization.
NAACP Board Chairman Leon Russell said the change is necessary to better position the organization to combat the onslaught of civil rights assaults and rollbacks the board expects under President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and to prepare the organization to shape the country in the next century.
While Brooks has been present at social justice demonstrations across the country, Russell says the board is looking for a leader who can focus on strengthening the local chapters and navigating local, regional and state policymaking processes.
For instance, Brooks was among the activists arrested in January at the office of now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, then a Republican senator, during a sit-in protesting his nomination for the cabinet position.
“I think Cornell was good at raising the issue in terms of going out and being able to do the protest part of it,” Russell said. “But we are now at the point where the issues are raised. Everyone is aware of them. But it’s time to put on the table to actualize solutions.”
Brooks could not be immediately reached for comment.
Russell said the board will launch a search for a new president with the aim completing that process by the year’s end. In the interim, he, the organization’s national staff and local branches will maintain day-to-day operations.
When Brooks was appointed president and chief executive in May 2014, he was best known as a minister, head of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and a former trial attorney for the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law.
He arrived a few months after the NAACP’s national office underwent a round of staff cuts and a significant…