The NAACP passed a resolution Tuesday calling on all people — including tea party leaders — to condemn racism within the tea party movement.
The measure passed overwhelmingly on the fourth day of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's annual convention in Kansas City.
Delegates said, however, that they wanted to make it clear the resolution wasn't intended to indict the entire tea party movement as racist. The resolution was amended to include the word "some" tea party supporters.
Nonetheless, the response from tea parties was sharp and swift.
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Many denied the existence of racism in their ranks, and the St. Louis Tea Party Coalition passed a resolution of its own, calling the NAACP resolution "a gutter tactic of attempting to silence opponents by inflammatory name-calling."
NAACP convention officials were sensitive to the attention being paid to the tea party resolution, with one delegate noting during discussion that the national press was already "salivating" over the issue.
As discussion began, Anita Russell, head of the Kansas City branch of the NAACP, noted the significance of the resolution.
"We feel it's very important that we educate our membership about the tea parties," Russell told delegates at Bartle Hall. "We are concerned that there is a racist element within the tea parties."
The resolution asserts that tea party supporters have engaged in "explicitly racist behavior, displayed signs and posters intended to degrade people of color generally and President Barack Obama specifically."
It also says that some tea party leaders and representatives "have apologized for and encouraged such racist behavior, rather than fully repudiating it."
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