As civil rights leaders working for racial justice and economic opportunity, we join much of the nation in our apprehension about the incoming administration.
We cannot ignore that the campaign was characterized by divisive racial rhetoric and has emboldened white supremacists across the country. The wave of hate crimes sweeping the country, with perpetrators invoking the name of the President-elect, is an ill omen, as is the appointment of a chief strategist with an appalling record of promoting racial, anti-Semitic and anti-woman rhetoric.
We were appalled by the calls for intimidation of voters at urban and rural polling places and will not forget.
Voter suppression had a measurable effect on elections in a number of states. While racial voter suppression was widespread, voter suppression was generational as well. Millennials, as a multiracial demographic, also were targeted by strict ID laws and poll closings affecting millions of youth, college and high school students, as well as young professionals. Addressing this threat to our most vulnerable citizens and our still young democracy will be a top priority for our organizations in the coming weeks and months.
We have a responsibility to vigorously oppose any policies or actions which are inconsistent with our agenda or would serve to turn back the clock on hard-fought gains. America’s advance toward diversity is not interrupted by the results of the election.
We will continue to battle discrimination, racial injustice and barriers to equal opportunity as we have done for decades. As always, we will advocate for the next President of the United States to honor and prioritize the Constitutional guarantee of equal protection, due process and full citizenship for every American. The President-elect needs to begin by repudiating hate crimes and attacks undertaken in his name and by announcing a commitment to abandon the divisive rhetoric and policy proposals of his campaign that are inconsistent with equality and opportunity for all.
Having earned a minority of the popular vote, elected with the support of only about a quarter percent of the adult population, the President-elect must recognize the challenge of his extremely narrow appeal to the American people. His obligation is to be President for All Americans.
Other important races on the ballot were significant for the advancement of the nation.
While Congress remains in control of leaders with a demonstrated history of obstructionism, we take encouragement from the election of the most diverse Congress in United States history. When the 115th United States Congress is seated in January, it will include 100 women — notably Kamala Harris among the 23 elected to the Senate — and the largest-ever Congressional Black Caucus, Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus.
We encourage every American to stand firm in the fight for the protection of civil rights and in opposition to racism and hate.
The statement was issued jointly by the following:
Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Melanie Campbell, President and CEO, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and Convener, Black Women’s Roundtable
Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Wade Henderson, President and CEO, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.
Marc H. Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League
The Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President, National Action Network