The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said its Los Angeles chapter president resigned in the wake of racist comments by Clippers basketball team owner Donald Sterling.
The chapter president, Leon Jenkins, who sought to honor Sterling before the controversy arose, said he would “respectfully resign” to distance the civil rights group from the “negative exposure” he had caused, according to an NAACP statement late yesterday.
The National Basketball Association two days ago banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million for making racist remarks. The recorded comments, which were posted on the website TMZ, drew condemnation from President Barack Obama and fellow team owners including Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen.
Sterling had been scheduled to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP’s Los Angeles branch next month. After the disclosure of his comments, the civil rights organization issued a statement asking that Sterling be withdrawn from the honoree list.
Sterling received an NAACP award in 2009. That year, he also agreed to pay $2.73 million to settle a housing discrimination suit after the government alleged bias against black and Hispanic prospective tenants.
The payment was the largest ever obtained by the government in a discrimination case involving apartment rentals. His attorney denied the allegations at the time of the settlement.
Jenkins told the Los Angeles Times in 2009, in response to questions about Sterling’s alleged racism, that the Clippers owner had a “unique history of giving to the children of L.A.” and had donated as many as 3,000 tickets a game to youth groups.
The NAACP said it is developing guidelines for its branches to “help them in their award selection process.”
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