Tyler NAACP Members React To President Bush's Decision

It's a move no president has made since Herbert Hoover's administration.

President Bush has declined an invitation to speak at the NAACP's Annual Convention, starting Saturday.

Tyler NAACP leaders reacted to the president's decision at their monthly meeting.

"I don't think too highly of our president for turning down the invitation," said Tyler NAACP Vice President Donald Sanders.

Members are angry with President Bush's decision not speak at this year's convention in Philadelphia.

He spoke at the NAACP Convention during his 2000 campaign, but since taking office, NAACP representatives say the president has not returned.

President Bush was in Pennsylvania Friday on the campaign trail. However, a White House spokesman says the President will not be able to attend Saturday's convention, due to scheduling conflicts.

Since he became president, NAACP leaders have been very critical of his policies.

One of the most vocal is veteran civil rights leader and NAACP Chairman of the Board, Julian Bond.

When the president made cabinet nominations in 2001, according to

The National Review

, Bond said the president, "has selected nominees from the Taliban wing of American politics."

A year later in 2002, Bond criticized those in control of the White House, Congress and Supreme Court.

The Washington Times

quoted Bond as saying, "Their idea of equal rights is the American flag and Confederate swastika flying side by side."

Tyler NAACP members say Bond's remarks are strong, but they believe the president has an obligation as a representative of the people to still attend the convention.

"People attack people all the time," said Tyler NAACP President Ernest Deckard. "He's a tougher man than that. He's attacked all other problems in America but that."

"A man of his status or what he stands for," said Tyler NAACP Secretary Bonnie Petty, "I don't care what position you hold, you're going to get some comments negative and positive."

NAACP members say the president's decision will influence them at the election polls in November.

NAACP representatives say Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry has accepted an invitation to speak on the last day of the convention, next Thursday.

President Bush did speak to the nation's largest Hispanic rights group, Thursday, via satellite.

He addressed the League of United Latin American Citizens convention in San Antonio. They expect to hear from John Kerry Saturday.

Story by Maya Golden