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It's Time to Have a Black Tea Party

07/20/2010 07:11 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

At its 101st annual convention, the NAACP adopted a resolution "calling on Tea Party leaders to repudiate those in their ranks who use racist language in their signs and speeches."

NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Jealous and David Webb, a co-founder of Tea Party 365, debated the tempest in a teapot on CBS' Face the Nation.

CBS News Chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer observed:

Mr. Jealous, you raised a lot of eyebrows when your organization passed a resolution condemning, and you were careful to say not the Tea Party itself, but elements of the Tea Party for racism. Why did you find that necessary? And what actually were you trying to do?

Good questions.

It's a given there are "racist elements" in the Tea Party movement. There were also racist elements in the Democratic Party, including former Ku Klux Klan member Robert Byrd. At his memorial service, President Barack Obama relayed that Byrd told him "there are things I regretted in my youth."

If every racist sign disappeared, every racial epithet chilled and every racist expelled, then what? How does policing the Tea Party movement for racist elements advance the black agenda?

While Jealous plays the victim, Dick Armey, who Jealous described as the "godfather" of the Tea Party movement, is planning a convention to "take America back."

During last week's National Action Network rally, the Rev. Al Sharpton said:

Clearly, there has been racism at their marches. They have signs up and said things that were racist. But my analysis of it was...I don't need to argue with them about whether there was an n-word used in the crowd. I don't need to argue with them about the signs in the crowd, though they were there and they were evident.

Sharpton continued:

Don't get distracted by those in the crowd calling you names that you forget and let them change the game...I don't care if you like me or not. It'd be nice, but it doesn't matter. If you disenfranchise me, I got a problem.

[...]

The argument ain't whether they spit and cussed out the Black Caucus. That is wrong and if they did, they should be dealt with...They were out there saying that the federal government should not be dealing with regulating health care for all citizens...You got to know what time it is.

I was in DC on Election Night '08. I joined the throngs walking down Pennsylvania Avenue on their way to the White House. All along the way, car stereos blasted "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud" and "A Change is Gonna Come."

Truth be told, black folks are still waiting for the change they hoped would come with the election of Barack Obama. So what time is it?

It is time for Jealous and other civil rights leaders to have their own tea party. It is time to close the "enthusiasm gap" between tea partiers and black voters.