HOUSTON (AP) — The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People says its newest battle is really an old one.
This year's NAACP national convention, which kicks off this weekend in Houston, is focusing on voter participation and the civil rights organization's efforts to fight what it sees as restrictive voting laws that have been passed by various states the last few years.
Between 6,000 and 7,000 members are expected to attend the group's 103rd convention. Vice President Joe Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder and Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, are among the scheduled speakers.
The theme of the convention, which starts Saturday and runs through July 12, is "NAACP: Your Power, Your Decision – Vote." NAACP officials said their main priority this year is making sure that everyone, regardless of race, creed or economic status, will have the right to vote during this fall's elections.
Since 2010, at least 10 states, including Texas, have passed laws requiring people to show a government-issued photo identification card when they go to the polls.
Supporters of such laws have said showing an ID will prevent voter fraud. But opponents say requiring an ID could suppress voter turnout among poor, elderly and minority voters who are less likely to have a driver's license or passport.
Leon Russell, vice chairman of the NAACP's national board of directors, compared the recent voting laws to poll taxes or literacy tests from the 19th century that disenfranchised black voters.
"The effort to suppress the vote is not a new thing. It's something that's been around," he said during a news conference Friday. "What we have seen in the last two years though is the most egregious effort to compound and collect every single method that anybody could think of that would discourage someone to vote and put it into a piece of legislation and inflict them on our communities."
Russell said his organization's efforts are not partisan. Voter ID laws are often passed by Republicans and opposed by Democrats.
University of Houston history professor Tyrone Tillery said the issue of battling voter ID laws is one that fits with the NAACP's history of helping disenfranchised voters.
"It plays to their strengths," said Tillery, who specializes in 20th century African-American history and was a former NAACP director in Detroit in 1989.
Russell said the NAACP is focused on working with other civil rights groups in the Hispanic, Asian and gay and lesbian communities.
"We can't just work on behalf of one segment of the population," he said. "Our focus will be the black community. But we can't create anything that impacts only the black community. Our 103-year history shows that when we get legislation adopted, it is policy that has impacted all Americans. That continues to be our purpose."
Other issues NAACP officials plan to discuss at the convention include the federal health care law that was upheld last month by the U.S. Supreme Court and efforts to repeal stand-your-ground laws around the country in the wake of the February fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, is citing Florida's stand-your-ground law in his defense in the teenager's death.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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