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NAACP board elects new leader as group 're-envisions itself'

Eric Levenson, CNN | 10/22/2017, 9:13 a.m.
The NAACP board unanimously elected Derrick Johnson to serve a three-year term as the president and CEO of the longtime ...
Derrick Johnson NAACP photo

(CNN) -- The NAACP board unanimously elected Derrick Johnson to serve a three-year term as the president and CEO of the longtime civil rights organization, the NAACP announced on Saturday.

Johnson, 49, had served as interim president and CEO since July, the group said. He took over after the NAACP voted to dismiss its former president Cornell William Brooks in May as part of what it called a "system-wide refresh."

Leon Russell, the board chairman of the NAACP, praised Johnson in a statement as a veteran activist and a leader for these times.

"In his time serving as our interim president and CEO, Derrick has proven himself as the strong, decisive leader we need to guide us through both our internal transition, as well as a crucial moment in our nation's history," Russell said. "With new threats to communities of color emerging daily and attacks on our democracy, the NAACP must be more steadfast than ever before, and Derrick has the vision, mobility and courage to help us meet that demand."

Johnson, a Detroit native living in Jackson, Mississippi, will guide the 108-year-old organization "as it re-envisions itself to take on a tumultuous and contentious social and political climate," the NAACP said in a news release.

On Twitter, Johnson said he was "truly honored to lead this next chapter in the NAACP's legacy."

He previously served as a vice chairman of the NAACP National Board of Directors and was president of the Mississippi State Conference NAACP, and he led campaigns for voting rights, workers' rights and equitable education, according to the NAACP.