By: Barbara Grzincic
UB Law student/NAACP Law Fellow Malcolm P. Ruff continues to share his views from the NAACP’s centennial celebration in New York:
While writing my last installment of “The Ruff Report” yesterday, I heard a loud buzz in the hallway. I ventured out to find Mr. Michael Steele, former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and the current RNC Chairman.
Mr. Steele had just finished addressing the convention floor and was doing interviews across the hall. Fortunately, his assistant needed to use our office to print off a last-minute speech, and so in exchange he promised me that the Chairman would stop by to say hello.
Now to be clear, I am a Democrat and it baffles me how a black man could be a Republican, let alone chair the party, but Mr. Steele attempted to convince us that the Republican Party’s stances on education, the black family unit, and economic stability were in line with the needs and desires of minority citizens. (Click here for the text of his remarks.) I didn’t even know the Republican Party had a stance on the black family, and after talking to several convention attendees, the consensus was that Mr. Steele failed to identify any real solutions to problems of racial disparities in each one of these areas.
By mid-day I was attending a panel that discussed the positive and negative portrayals of youth of color in various forms of media. It was amazing to see approximately 300 highly conscious young black faces eager to tackle tough issues. The conversation centered on BET’s negative portrayal of black people, and in my opinion, I have to agree that it has become immensely hard for me to believe that BET has any intent on uplifting or positively affecting the culture of the black community.
The convention hallways are always full of notable public figures from arts & entertainment to politics, to business and of course the legal field. It has been such a thrill: from rubbing elbows with Congressman John Conyers to fellowshipping with actor Jeffery Wright (Shaft, Cadillac Records, etc.), I have had the greatest experience meeting such accomplished personalities.
But none was more exciting than meeting Kweisi Mfume, who like me is a true son of Baltimore. I remember being in middle school at Gilman when Mr. Mfume’s autobiography, “No Free Ride,” was released. I read it from cover to cover, delving into the life of a man who was raised in the same type of lower-income urban area of Baltimore as me. So when I ran into the former Association President on the restricted media level of the convention, I had to make sure I paid my respects because I truly consider him to be one of my local childhood heroes. (That’s us in the photo above.)
To wind up the night, I headed out to Broadway to see Patti LaBelle in concert at the Nokia Theatre (my boss hooked me up with VIP tickets, my mom is going to kill me!). Check back in later to hear about the anticipation of President Obama’s arrival on Thursday!
Malcolm P. Ruff