NAACP unveils campaign to attract new members

Civil rights group to place 150 billboards in 46 states

September 21, 2004|By Kelly Brewington | Kelly Brewington,SUN STAFF

In an attempt to boost membership by 20 percent, the NAACP launched a billboard advertising campaign yesterday to lure new members to the 95 year-old-civil rights organization.

The campaign will place 150 billboards in 46 states including three in Maryland - in Baltimore, Frederick and Prince George's County.

Member businesses of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America donated the billboard spaces, which have an estimated value of $1 million. The association has 1,100 members representing 90 percent of the industry's revenues.

Although the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People claims 500,000 members, its numbers have not grown significantly in recent years, according to officials of the civil rights group.

NAACP President Kweisi Mfume said the organization must grow to stay relevant.

"Membership is our lifeblood," Mfume said yesterday during the unveiling of a model billboard at the NAACP's national headquarters on Mount Hope Drive in Northwest Baltimore. It shows a young man with an earnest stare and a slogan beside him reading: "Don't Let Silence Represent You," as well as the toll-free number and Web site where one can join the organization.

Ken Klein, vice president of the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, said: "From Baltimore to Birmingham and all the way to L.A., billboards will send the message to join the NAACP."

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