When John White, director of communications for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, first heard word that Russell Simmons was going to be nominated for the position of NAACP president, the first thing he thought to himself was, “ It’s a internet rumor.”
“I’m not aware of Mr. Simmons even sending a resume,” he said.“Nobody has been nominated to be president.”
White is one of many people throughout the nation that have heard the internet rumor that Simmons has been nominated for the position of NAACP president.
“The first thing I thought when I heard Russell Simmons name was like ‘ok what can he do to contribute to the NAACP,’” said Tamika Smith, a sophomore broadcast journalism major.
Like Smith, many youth feel that Mr. Simmons is not a qualified candidate for the NAACP position.
“When it comes to being able to speak for people’s rights and speak for people’s needs I don’t think he is the man for the job,” said Brandi Washington, a senior film production major. “I don’t think he can articulate his words to describe what he feels for African-American people.”
Yet others argue Mr. Simmons is taking on a new identity not compatible with the NAACP.
“It’s gonna be a conflict with the youth because it’s gonna seem like Russell is taking on a new face all of a sudden; like you went from gangsta rap to the NAACP,” said Freddie Freeland, a senior legal communications major.
At this moment, the NAACP is still interviewing a number of qualified applicants to fill the position.
White describes the qualified individual as, “somebody that’s interested in civil rights, someone who’s a good manager, someone who’s able to raise money, and someone who’s concerned about black America.”
Some, despite criticism, believe Mr. Simmons would be a valuable asset to the NAACP.
“Simmons has been real instrumental in getting funding for New York City schools, giving hip-hop a voice with politics, and he was instrumental in making sure young people exercise there right to vote in the upcoming election,” said Brandon Edwards, a senior film production major.
Although the debate about whether Simmons would make a good president still continues, the bigger question is whether the NAACP is still in touch with today’s black youth.
“When I look at the NAACP I paint the five words National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Take the last three words Advancement of Colored People, that’s why I identify with them because I am for that,” said Freeland.
Conversely, Tyrae Bell, a sophomore public relations major, doesn’t feel the NAACP is for the advancement of black people and wouldn’t depend on them as a first resort.
“I feel as though race relations aren’t as big as they were back in the day so like if something were to truly happen… I could go do something about it myself and receive more attention.”