Color Me KweisirnThe NAACP Marches hito Irrelevancernby William MurchisonrnFor a quick fix on how a particular organization sees itselfrnand its purposes, inspect its official name, especially if thernorganization dates from a more forthrigiit and transparent time,rnwhen assorted reformers wore their hearts on their letterheads.rnThe purpose, the raisoii d’etre, of the National Association forrnthe Advancement of Colored People, founded in the lastrnmonth of Theodore Rooseelt’s presidency, is—well, what elsernwould it be? To “advance” —to push forward, aggressively butrnlawfully—the interests of Americans who in former times calledrnthemselves “colored” and have come to prefer “black” orrn”African-American/’rnI know it is an obvious point. I raise it just to show how littlernsense it would make to expect the Nahonal Association for thernAdvancement of Colored People to spend time and resourcesrn”advancing” the Celhc or Plispanic or Albanian interest Or, forrnthat matter, the interests of plain old unhyphenated Africans (althoughrnthe NAACP, as self-designated voice of the diaspora,rngives occasional lip service to the concerns of the homeland).rnInevitably, and you might even say comnicndably, thernNAACP performs the job it believes its charter stipidates. But itrnvvoidd hardly be honest to let the matter rest right there —notrnwith all that is going on now at the NACP under PresidentrnKweisi Mfume.rnWilliam Murchison is a nationally syndicated columnist for thernDallas Morning News.rnWhatever the NAACP believes itself to be doing, whateverrnnoble objectives its officers and board ma’ profess, the questionrnarfses: Can the organization any longer see the forest for therntrees? Wliat is the desired effect here—a stronger America, inrnwhich equal rights for all are strongly aftlrmed; or an Americarnfractured bevond repair, one in which the NAACP raises monevrnlike crazy, getting its name in all the papers, while millions ofrn”colored people” fall farther and farther behind?rnJust to raise such questions is trick. There is the history ofrnthe civil-rights movement to consider, and especially the provocaHonsrnthat the NAACP faced for decades. Explaining awayrn”the N-Doublc-A-C-P” as “a bimch of outside agitators” was dernrigueur in the post-Brow7i v. Board of Education South. VariousrnNA^CPers may have hailed from the outside, and all may havernbeen agitating to beat the band. But the upshot of their variedrnlabors, and of many other people’s —the sweeping away of lawsrnpreventing general enjoyment of U.S. citizenship—was needfulrnand beneficial. It helped to assuage many a white Southernrnconscience, I can tell you.rnThat as late as the 1950’s “colored people” could not eat inrn”white” restaurants is a datum hard to take in—hard even forrneyes that once looked on the old order with complacency or satisfacfion.rnThe “Jim Crow” system was absurd and often enoughrnvicious. To point out just one absurdit}’: It would have deniedrnMr. Jusfice Clarence Thomas—whose right hand I saw wrungrnoff a year or h’o ago by dozens of staunchh’ conservative Dallasrn16/CHRON:CLESrnrnrn