Baltimore gets no apology from NAACP officials Group declines to drop support for a team in Charlotte

July 04, 1993|By Sandy Banisky | Sandy Banisky,Staff Writer

Two days after it riled Baltimore by endorsing a National Football League franchise for rival Charlotte, N.C., the NAACP issued a new statement yesterday that neither apologized to Baltimore nor backed away from Charlotte.

"The NAACP does not favor any one city over others in the United States," the five-paragraph release said in its closing lines -- without any reference to the football controversy, Baltimore or Charlotte.

The statement, which NAACP officials worked on for two days, talked only of the NAACP's efforts in economic advancement for African-Americans.

If Baltimoreans were looking for apologies, or simply an acknowledgment from the Baltimore-based national organization, the NAACP's release yesterday offered none.

"The statement speaks for itself," Dr. William F. Gibson, the NAACP board chairman, said from his home in Greenville, S.C.

Asked whether the news release meant that the NAACP had softened its endorsement of Charlotte, Dr. Gibson repeated, "The statement says what it says."

When a reporter said the document did not appear to address the issue of NFL endorsements, Dr. Gibson replied, "That's your problem."

The statement, which the NAACP had promised all day Friday, was not enough for Gov. William Donald Schaefer.

On Friday, Mr. Schaefer, who had lobbied the NAACP to move its national headquarters to Baltimore, called the Charlotte endorsement "a slap in the face." Even after a late Friday call from the Rev. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., the NAACP's executive director, Mr. Schaefer "continues to be disturbed," Page Boinest, the governor's press secretary, said yesterday.

"He feels the city and the state have had a fabulous record involving minorities," Ms. Boinest said. "The impression is there that the NAACP has endorsed Charlotte over hometown Baltimore."

The governor, she added, "is holding by what he said Friday. Minorities have been represented well above any goals that have been set at Oriole Park, and we expect that those goals will hold as well for any NFL franchise, in jobs in every aspect, from construction to design to engineering."

Rep. Kweisi Mfume, the Baltimore Democratic who is chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, also rebuked the NAACP yesterday, calling its support for Charlotte "unfortunate for the citizens of Baltimore.

"I would hope that just as the NAACP chooses not to endorse partisan political candidates, that it would choose also, in the future, not to endorse participants in a competitive bidding process," the congressman, an NAACP member, said in a

statement.

And Del. Howard P. Rawlings of Baltimore, chairman of the state House Appropriations Committee, noted that the minority-hiring standards that the Maryland Stadium Authority used in building Oriole Park at Camden Yards are twice what Jerome J. Richardson, the proposed owner of an NFL team should Charlotte win a franchise, had promised that city.

"They [the NAACP] made a mistake, and they're really trying to backtrack," Mr. Rawlings said. "They didn't do their homework. It was poor judgment."

Meanwhile, George N. Buntin Jr., executive director of the NAACP's Baltimore City chapter, helped arrange a conference call yesterday morning among heads of state chapters and Dr. Chavis.

The group encouraged Dr. Chavis to meet with Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke as quickly as possible.

Mr. Schmoke met Friday with the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, who was a rival of Dr. Chavis for the NAACP job. A representative of the mayor did not return a phone call yesterday.

The controversy erupted Thursday, when the NAACP announced had reached an agreement with Mr. Richardson, chairman and chief executive officer of Flagstar Cos. Inc., which owns Denny's and other restaurant chains. Denny's recently was accused of bias against black patrons.

In the "fair-share agreement," Mr. Richardson agreed to minority participation in the team's management, suppliers and stadium construction.

And Dr. Chavis, a North Carolina native, told reporters in Charlotte, "Yes, we will do what we can and help out in any way possible for the Carolinas to get a franchise."

NAACP STATEMENT

Following is the text of yesterday's joint statement from Dr. William F. Gibson, chairman, and Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr., executive director, of the NAACP:

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People reaffirms our strong commitments to equal justice and to the economic empowerment of the African-American community.

On July 1, 1993, we signed unprecedented fair share agreements with Flagstar Inc. and Richardson Sports Inc., which will derive over $1 billion in direct economic benefits to African-Americans throughout the United States.

We wish to clarify the issue of our stated support for these fair share agreements. Our support is guided by the principal of insuring economic empowerment of the African-American community.

We are impressed with the written commitment of Flagstar and Richardson Sports to insure significant African-American involvement in the ownership, management, employment, corporate development and expansion and other tangible areas of these businesses.

The NAACP does not favor any one city over others in the United States. We are committed, however, to supporting those corporations and businesses that are serious about the involvement of any empowerment of African-Americans.

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