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National Association of Meaningless Awards


Leon Jenkins and Donald Sterling

Leon Jenkins and Donald Sterling     COURTESY PHOTO

From Detroit to Los Angeles, Leon Jenkins has been selling out the whole way. Jenkins left Detroit disgraced. He was disbarred, removed from his seat at 36th District Court, and effectively run out of town. He was caught taking bribes and fixing tickets and was under FBI surveillance. So he leaves Detroit and goes to Los Angeles for what could have been a fresh start. What better place to go, following thousands before you, than Los Angeles the place where bad reputations, criminal misdeeds and unsavory reputations can be resuscitated. Tinseltown, palm trees and all that. Only Jenkins essentially stayed the same.

When he was disbarred, the State Bar Review said he had “sold out” the public trust. He was also disbarred in California. So Jenkins, with no future and bad ethical standing, becomes head of the Los Angeles branch NAACP where he continues to sell out the public trust.

Unfortunately, too often this is the type of Black leadership at the helm of some our most venerable Black institutions. Jenkins took his hustling ways and made sure he gave billionaire Donald Sterling — former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers with a long history of racial discrimination and sexual harassment, most recently caught on tape making racist and disparaging remarks about Black people — not one but nearly two Lifetime Achievement Awards.

Basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar has a point when he argues that Sterling’s federal housing discrimination case should have barred him from the NBA, not even the tapes.

The Black institutions have a habit of giving awards for dubious levels of service. Too many Black institutions — the Black press, civil rights organizations and churches — have a guaranteed revenue stream giving the most questionable characters commendations from the Black community.

And we have characters like Jenkins gifting the undeserving.

African Americans must purge this type of leadership and this free-for-all award-giving in the community — it cheapens the legacy and history of Black people.

The awards are too plentiful. The recipients almost always undeserving except for their ability to cut a check; the act has been rendered nearly meaningless, an empty gesture of appreciation.

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