Incoming NAACP Legal Defense Fund president sees progress against 'revitalized mission to advance white supremacy'

Incoming NAACP Legal Defense Fund President Janai Nelson said she sees progress in the fight against white supremacy in the U.S.

In an interview with The Washington Post published Thursday, Nelson shared her ideas and vision for the organization’s legal defense fund. 

Nelson, the organization’s second-in-command, is set to replace Sherrilyn Ifill, who stepped down from her role earlier this year. 


“It means the responsibility of a lifetime at a time when our democracy needs leadership in the civil rights space as much as any other time in our history. It is a significant responsibility that requires clarity and a sober recognition of what’s required in a moment when the polarization in this country is pitched, disinformation abounds and the opportunity gap between haves and have-nots is widening,” Nelson told the Post.

When asked about how some people see racial and social justice as a result of "tragic disagreements about human dignity," while others see them as signs of progress, Nelson responded: “We are both fighting against a revitalized mission to advance white supremacy, and we are making progress. That is because we know that justice doesn’t proceed in a straight line. There are sharp turns and jagged edges."

“But we would be doing ourselves a disservice to say that we are in the same state of play that we were entering the civil rights movement or post-reconstruction," she added.

Nelson added that while there has been “an enormous amount of progress, there has been some form of regression in the fight, which she cites as “deeply frustrating,” the Post reported. 

“Those of us who are in this work and understand the long game and know that change is very, very difficult to achieve in one fell swoop also know that some transformative change can happen in a flash. We saw last summer the spontaneous galvanization of an intergenerational multiracial, multiethnic movement in response to police violence and in response to other inequities in our society. It was explosive in the most positive way,” Nelson said.

Nelson, a former law professor at St. John’s University, is leading the legal defense fund that has sued former President TrumpDonald TrumpWendy Sherman takes leading role as Biden's 'hard-nosed' Russia negotiator Senate needs to confirm Deborah Lipstadt as antisemitism envoy — Now Former acting Defense secretary under Trump met with Jan. 6 committee: report MORE on voter fraud and former Attorney General William BarrBill BarrThe enemy within: Now every day is Jan. 6 Dems worry they'll be boxed out without changes to filibuster, voting rules  This week: Democrats face crunch time on voting rights MORE on a policing commission, the Post noted.