By Frederick H. Lowe
The NAACP, the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, has named Derrick Johnson, formerly the vice-chair of its board of directors, interim president and CEO, succeeding Cornell William Brooks who was not offered a new contract when his old one expired on June 30. Brooks was named president in 2014.
The NAACP’s executive committee of the board of directors on Saturday chose Johnson to lead the organization at its 108th annual convention in Baltimore, although Brooks had been notified in May that his tenure had come to an end as organization leaders said they wanted to move in a new direction.
Johnson, president of the Mississippi State Conference, will serve as interim president and CEO until a new president is selected, the NAACP said.
“It is truly an honor and a privilege to be named the interim president and CEO of an organization that I’ve served for decades,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of work that needs to be done and we won’t waste any time getting to it. We are facing unprecedented threats to our democracy and we will not be sidelined while are rights are being eroded every day. We remain steadfast and immovable, and stand ready on the front lines for the fight for justice.”
Leon Russell, NAACP board chairman, said Johnson is the right person to lead the organization through this important transition.
Johnson is a Mississippi native who has a law degree from South Texas College of Law.
As president of the Mississippi NAACP he has led campaigns for voting rights and equitable education. Johnson also managed two bond referendum campaigns in Jackson, Mississippi, that raised $150 million to be used for school building improvement and $65 million toward construction of a new convention center.
He also has had fellowships with the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the George Washington University School of Political Management and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is an adjunct professor at Tougaloo College, his alma mater, and guest lecturer at Harvard University.
The NAACP was founded in 1909.