NAACP LA Head Quits Amid Angst Over Sterling Honor

Leon Jenkins resigned Thursday after making the embarrassing decision to award the disgraced Clippers' owner.

Posted: 05/02/2014 11:20 AM EDT

Leon Jenkins, the president of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP, resigned Thursday following public outrage that the organization was set to honor disgraced Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling.

Jenkins was scheduled to honor Sterling with a lifetime achievement award for promoting civil rights until Sterling’s racism-laced recording berating African-Americans was released this past weekend, forcing the NAACP to rescind that offer Monday. NBA commissioner Adam Silver swiftly banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million, in addition to empowering other league owners to vote against Sterling, forcing a sale of the Clippers.

According to the Associated Press, Jenkins wrote a letter to the national leader of the NAACP, saying that he resigned effective Thursday “to separate the Los Angeles NAACP and the NAACP from the negative exposure I have caused.”

Even before this incident, Jenkins allowed the NAACP to honor Sterling with a similar achievement award in 2009, overlooking the fact that the U.S. Justice Department had sued Sterling in August 2006 for housing discrimination against minorities. In November 2009, Sterling also agreed to pay $2.7 million to settle claims that he refused to rent his apartments to Hispanics and blacks.

Earlier this week, outspoken ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith especially took the NAACP to task over their decision to honor Sterling.

“The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People—okay—gave this man a lifetime achievement award, was on the record giving credit to his willingness to give tickets to youth as the reason they gave him the award, ignoring the racial discrimination lawsuit, ignoring [former Clippers' general manager] Elgin Baylor’s lawsuit against him," said Smith, ripping into the organization live on the air.

"And then not only did they do that, they were about to give it to him again—two lifetime achievement awards by the same organization. When you have stuff like that going on, it’s not just incumbent upon the black community to point out the transgressions of a Donald Sterling…we’ve got to point out the transgressions of our own. That is simply disgraceful and embarrassing.”

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(Photo: AP Photo/Nick Ut)

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