TYLER, TX (KLTV) - One the nation's oldest and largest civil rights groups, the NAACP, is condemning what it calls blatant racism inside the popular Tea Party movement. Tuesday, the organization met for its 101st annual convention and passed a resolution claiming just that. The move has Tea Party activists across the country crying foul, including here in East Texas.
"We have no problem with the Tea Party," said Tood Jealous, the NAACP president. "We have a problem with the Tea Party tolerating racism in its ranks."
The NAACP points to racial slurs allegedly shouted and spat upon members of Congress during the health care debate. The NAACP wants Tea Party leaders to be more responsible. But, Tea Party activists say the racism allegation is unfounded. One of their favorites, Sara Palin, called the resolution "divisive."
Tyler Tea Party organizer, Tammy Blair says there are extremists in every camp, some you can't control. But, if there is racism in the ranks, especially here in East Texas, she has not seen it.
"I have witnesses no racism," said Blair, "not in our group, not at any of the rallies I've been to. I wouldn't tolerate it...This movement is really and truly about limited government...and fiscal responsibility and getting back to our founding principals...To accuse us of tolerating bigotry...I think they're practicing their own."
"If the finger's pointed at me and I've done something wrong, then I own up, accept it and move on," said Branden Johnson, with the Longview Race Relations Committee. "It's time for someone to step up and hold you accountable."
Johnson says, personally, he has not seen any manifestations of alleged racism, but that does not mean it doesn't exist.
"We just wonder, as people, why they haven't stood up and said, look, you can't have that kind of stuff here because you're negating what we're trying to promote," said Johnson.
The NAACP says its resolution will not become official until approved by its national board of directors in October. It is reported the organization is planning an anti-Tea Party march on Washington this fall.