Civil Rights

NAACP elects new president and CEO

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Derrick Johnson

He intends to change the organization’s nonprofit status

Derrick Johnson has been elected president and CEO of the NAACP, the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization, after serving as interim leader since January when Cornell William Brooks was not offered a new contract on June 30. Brooks had been president and CEO since 2014.

Johnson, a Detroit native, who lives in Jackson, Mississippi, will serve a three-year term at the 108-year-old Baltimore-based organization that re-envisions itself to take on a tumultuous and contentious political climate.

NAACP’s national office would soon transition from the 501(c)3 non-profit status it currently holds to become a 501(c)4.

“We must ensure a strong national voice,” Johnson said. “For too long, we’ve operated with a set of restrictions in terms of our voice. What we will do immediately, with the support of the board, is establish ourselves as a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization, which will allow us to speak in this current political climate, in a way in which the needs and interests of African-Americans across the country are raised and clearly displayed,” he said.

Contributions to (c)(4) organizations are not deductible, but organizations have more leeway when it comes to political activity. Some organizations — including the American Cancer Society, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Sierra Club — have a 501(c)(3) organization and a separate, affiliated 501(c)(4) organization to direct advocacy efforts, The Non Profit Times, which reports on nonprofit management, reported.

Johnson, 49, wants to end restrictions on the NAACP’s ability to lobby.

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