Los Angeles, CA — The Los Angeles branch of the NAACP will honor Donald T. Sterling, Clippers owner and alleged racist, with one of the organization’s highest accolades. On May 14 at the Roy Wilkins Freedom Fund Awards Gala, Sterling will be given the Humanitarian Award. The honor is granted to community activists, contributors, and those who have shown outstanding leadership in the campaign for civil rights. The event will be held at 5:45 p.m. at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown L.A.
NAACP President Leon Jenkins of the Los Angeles Branch says Sterling deserves the recognition, “Over the last ten years or so, 1000 to 2000 at risk youth have been able to come to live Clippers games, those who have never seen a pro basketball game before.” He also says Sterling has been involved with scholarship programs for African Americans and has donated money to the NAACP’s programs for at risk youth.
But not everyone believes Sterling is the best candidate for the award.
Retired L.A. Laker, Elgin Baylor filed a civil suit against Sterling and the team for alleged racial discrimination on Feb. 11 2009. The lawsuit claims that Baylor was treated unfairly and that Sterling expressed ongoing racists attitudes when dealing with contract negotiations supposedly saying to former NBA star Danny Manning, “I’m offering a lot of money for a poor Black kid.”
Baylor was not available for a statement due to the ongoing trial.
In response to the accusations against Sterling, Jenkins says, “We are first of all a civil rights organization that has a record that is unassailable and we are a non-profit organization. If we did not accept money from major corporations that have done hurtful things in the past, we would not be able to sue them for the things they’ve done.”
Jenkins says the organization has a history of lawsuits against major corporations that currently support them like FOX, which now sponsors the annual NAACP Image Awards. The organization has filed a class action suit against Wells Fargo, accusing them of discriminating in issuing high cost subprime loans to African Americans. The bank is also a large contributor to the historical civil rights organization.
In 2006, Sterling purchased Los Angeles Times advertising for his $50 million ‘Sterling Homeless, Medical, and Legal Center’ Skid Row. LA Weekly reported in 2008 that Skid Row and homeless-service attendants, business owners, and politicians were “stunned and intrigued.” The ads say, “Please don’t forget the children need our help.” Three years later, the edifice has not been built.
Jenkins says, “I didn’t get any calls from the community about this. If we heard anything from the community, we would do our due diligence.”