The NAACP said today that it is dispatching its officials to the Republican National Convention to speak with the party’s leadership and delegates about the importance of civil rights issues, principally access to voting.
In a conference call with reporters, Benjamin Todd Jealous, the president of the NAACP, said that it was critical for the Republican Party to be more vocal on issues of concern to minorities in America.
Since there will be no moderators of the upcoming presidential debates who are African-American or Latino, Jealous said, it was critical for his organization and other civil rights groups to hold both parties accountable on issues that affect Black Americans.
“This year, when it comes to issues of concern to people of color, there seems to be silence on some of the critical issues, such as voting rights, criminal justice reform and others,” Jealous said.
“People want to hear about the perspectives of the president and Mr. Romney on voting rights, education, health and jobs,” he added.
Jealous said that Republican efforts to enact strict voter identification laws were particularly disturbing, calling it one of the nation’s most severe assaults on minority voting rights in modern history.
He said that the NAACP will attempt to meet with Republican officials who are considered to be sympathetic to the organization’s views on these issues. However, he acknowledged that there are fewer moderate Republican leaders than had been the case in the past.
Still, Jealous acknowledged that there have been some Republican leaders who have supported criminal justice reform. He also cited the Republican governors of Virginia and Michigan for opposing their legislatures’ efforts to enact strict voter identification laws in their states.
However, the NAACP’s most pressing goal is to fight the voter identification laws passed by Republican-led legislatures in many states.
“Whenever the Black electorate has expanded historically, we have seen these backlashes follow,” Jealous said.
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(Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)