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More gay leaders and people of diverse racial backgrounds are being selected to lead the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as the venerable civil rights organization seeks to increase its membership and broaden its anti-discrimination agenda.
The Associated Press reports on the new faces, the result of an "aggressive effort over the past four or five years" started under former chairman Julian Bond and accelerated under president Benjamin Todd Jealous, who has pushed for the organization to support gay rights. Paid membership has increased to 525,000 from a low of just below 300,000 within the past decade, and people under 25 are now the fastest-growing membership group.
"NAACP branches have been recruiting gays, immigrants and young people who grew up in a world far removed from the landmark 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education ruling that outlawed school segregation," reports the AP. "Now, leadership positions that were once held only by blacks are being filled by members of other racial or ethnic groups."
Some worry that the push for inclusion could distract from the NAACP's focus on African-American issues, but others argue that the broadened agenda returns the organization to the spirit of its 1909 founding by black and white activists.