High-profile speakers address NAACP crowd

Posted July 17, 2009 5:17 p.m. EDT

Dr. Allen Mask is attending the 100th annual convention of the NAACP in New York. He is filing reports on his experiences.

Wednesday, July 16, 2009

High profile Sunday morning shows like "Face the Nation" and "Meet the Press" compete vigorously to host the most prominent politician or activist of the day.

They were outdone by the NAACP this morning with luminaries that make executive producers drool: General Colin Powell; Rep, John Conyers (D-Mich.); former Virginia Governor Doug Wilder; Dr. Dorothy Height; Rev. Jessie Jackson; former president of the Urban League Vernon Jordan, Jr.; former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Rev. Andrew Young; former NAACP CEO Rev. Benjamin Hooks and the Little Rock Nine.

Each panelist offered their polished oratory, shaped by years of public policy debates. Young advocates changing election day from Tuesday to Saturday to allow more people an opportunity to vote. He said the original Tuesday was chosen decades ago to allow farmers (who typically worked less on Tuesdays) a chance to vote. Young says farmers only make up 1.9 percent of the voters now and maintains we should change to the weekend to make it more convenient for working people to vote.

He also feels the government should establish a FDIC bank account for all citizens to insure everyone has a financial base and can have an easy depository for tax refunds. Young also said Africa is the missing puzzle in the global economy and feel s more efforts should to develop the resources there.

Powell got a hearty laugh when he called all the panelists "analog" in a "digital" age. He said his kids urged him to join Facebook and when he resisted they informed him he had a Facebook page anyway. Powell praised the NAACP for its enormous accomplishments and spoke of a need for global participation in human rights activism.

Height praised the women of the civil rights movement, saying "We seldom do what we want to do but always do we we have to do." It was a three-hour scholarly session that will go down in history as one the most eloquent discussions of the current state of the world.

The NAACP completed its election of national board members as well as the basic business of the organization. Singer Dionne Warwick ("Do You Know the Way to San Jose," "Alfie," "The Look of Love") made the rounds speaking to the individual sessions of the seven regions.

The Global Impact session included a keynote speech by Abdoulaye Wade, president of Senegal and a video presentation by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia.

The evening was rounded out with a gospel extravaganza by international recording artists Hezekiah Walker, Mary Mary and Smokie Norful as well as the NAACP Centennial Choir. It was a rousing event leading to tomorrow's finale.

New York City is abuzz in anticipation of President Barack Obama's keynote address on Thursday. Traffic will be restricted around the New York Hilton Hotel along 6th Avenue and 53rd and 54th Streets. By any barometer this 100th Anniversary Celebration of the NAACP has been an enormous success.