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The NAACP Is Not Done

And new president Cornell William Brooks sees no reason to think that it will be done anytime soon

A box of fried chicken, a bottle of malt liquor, and a watermelon. That was the roadside display that greeted Cornell William Brooks seven months into his tenure as the new president of the NAACP.

Brooks was leading a weeklong Journey for Justice across Missouri, protesting the police shooting in August 2014 of Michael Brown, an unarmed African American teenager, in Ferguson. For most of the march, Brooks had been heartened by the hospitality of the local people, some of whom offered donuts, coffee, even shoes. But in Rosebud, things changed: the group was heckled with the N-word, and ski-masked thugs called death threats from passing cars. One heckler wore a Klan-like mask, and others planted confederate flags, along with the roadside display of fried chicken and watermelon.

A postracial America? Brooks (STH’87, Hon.’15) didn’t find evidence of it in Rosebud, Mo. But as he walked alongside a septuagenarian African American woman, and a white woman who had traveled from Tennessee to march with her young children in tow, his group pressed on with what Brooks calls the characteristic intestinal fortitude of the NAACP, committed to nonviolence from its inception 106 years ago.

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