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NAACP Los Angeles President Leon Jenkins has resigned in the midst of an outcry over the branch’s since-nixed plan to honor Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
“Please be advised that the legacy, history and reputation of the NAACP is more important to me than the presidency. In order to separate the Los Angeles NAACP and the NAACP from the negative exposure I have caused the NAACP, I respectfully resign my position as President of the Los Angeles NAACP,” Jenkins wrote in a letter to NAACP Interim President and CEO Lorraine C. Miller Thursday.
The NAACP’s national office says it will set guidelines to help branches select awards honorees.
The L.A. branch of the civil rights group came under fire after audio of Sterling making racist remarks became public last week. NAACP L.A. had tapped Sterling to receive a lifetime achievement honor before the remarks came out, and it abandoned those plans Sunday.
On Monday, Jenkins explained why NAACP L.A. had chosen Sterling to receive the honor.
“Mr. Sterling’s organization has on a consistent basis brought in the minority community. He has also over the years contributed to a number of minority charities. Compared to other L.A. franchises, his organization gave more money,” he said.
NAACP also said Monday it would return donations Sterling had made to the organization.
Sterling, who has received a lifetime ban from the NBA but remains the owner of the Clippers, previously received a lifetime achievement award from NAACP L.A. in 2009.