Local NAACP chief resigns amid criticism of Sterling award

The head of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP resigned Thursday night amid criticism of the group's plan to honor Clippers owner Donald Sterling with a lifetime achievement award. 

In a statement, the interim national NAACP President Lorraine Miller said she accepted Leon Jenkins’s resignation and would be developing guidelines for branches going forward for their selection of award recipients. 

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“Please be advised that the legacy, history and reputation of the NAACP is more important to me than the presidency," Jenkins said in his resignation letter. “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.”

The NBA on Tuesday banned Sterling for life and fined him $2.5 million for making racially insensitive remarks that were universally condemned in the political and athletic communities. The league is also attempting to force Sterling to sell the team. 

The Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP had honored Sterling once before with a lifetime achievement award. After Sterling's remarks were made public, Jenkins released a statement earlier this week retracting the award. 

"The revelation that Mr. Sterling may have made comments in a phone conversation that were reminiscent of an ugly time period in American history that contained elements of segregation and racial discrimination demands that the Los Angles NAACP intention to honor Mr. Sterling for his lifetime body of work must be withdrawn, and his donation to the Los Angeles NAACP returned," he said at the time. 

According to reports, foundations associated with Sterling had given the chapter at least $45,000 since 2007. The chapter is one of more than 50 operating in California alone. 

According to a biography on the group's website, Jenkins received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Howard University and a master's degree from the University of Maryland. He also received a law degree from Wayne State University and eventually become a judge in Michigan. He was elected president of the Los Angeles chapter in 2008.

However, according to reports, he was disbarred in the early 1990s for, among other things, soliciting bribes. California has rejected his previous efforts from practicing law in the state.