JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi NAACP leader Derrick Johnson has been named interim president and CEO of the national NAACP.
The executive committee of the board of directors unanimously selected Johnson, who currently serves as vice chairman of the board.
In a statement released by the NAACP, Johnson called it “an honor and a privilege” to head the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done, and we won’t waste any time getting to it,” he said. “We are facing unprecedented threats to our democracy and we will not be sidelined while our rights are being eroded every day. We remain steadfast and immovable, and stand ready on the front lines of the fight for justice.”
A week ago, Johnson talked to reporters about kicking off a national listening tour in August to help the civil rights organization expand its reach, refine its message and re-energize members.
“Our goal has always been to make sure we have a fertile number of members across the landscape who can inform and drive an agenda for our community,” he said. “Also, in listening to folks who may not ever be members and listening to members, we glean a lot of information.”
Leon Russell, board chairman of the NAACP, praised Johnson for taking on the task. “I could not think of a better, more battle-tested or more qualified individual to guide the NAACP through this transition period.”
NAACP officials said that Johnson will serve as interim president and CEO until a new president is named.
Johnson has served for years as president of the Mississippi NAACP and also served as vice chairman of the NAACP national board of directors.
Mississippi has a history of contributing to top leadership in the NAACP. In 1995, the board elected Myrlie Evers, the widow of Medgar Evers, to serve as chairman.
The chief justice of the Mississippi Supreme Court has appointed Johnson as a commissioner to the Mississippi Access to Justice Commission, and the governor appointed him as vice chair of the Governor’s Commission for Recovery, Rebuilding, and Renewal after devastation of Hurricane Katrina.
In the wake of that devastation, Johnson founded One Voice, a nonprofit social justice organization whose mission is to improve the quality of life for African Americans and other disenfranchised communities by increasing civic engagement in the formation of public policy through leadership development, research support, training and technical assistance.
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