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NAACP Plans To Push Back Against Trump's Racist Tweets

NOEL KING, HOST:

The NAACP is holding its national convention in Detroit today. It's going to host some of the Democratic presidential candidates. Leaders of that group have called for President Trump to be impeached. They say they're going to push back hard against a president who tweets racist remarks. From member station WDET, Quinn Klinefelter has the story.

QUINN KLINEFELTER, BYLINE: It's a morning session here at the NAACP Convention, and a series of speakers are pushing unity. And though this group bills itself as nonpartisan, speakers like Michigan Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence tell the overwhelmingly African-American crowd that President Trump's tweets telling her colleagues of color to go back home crossed a line.

BRENDA LAWRENCE: Sitting on the sideline, having a cup of coffee - those days has passed. This is a time where every black person in America has to know this is bigger than today. If we allow what's happening now to continue, all of the progress that we've made will be rolled back. And we'll be back to square one.

KLINEFELTER: In the vast hallway outside the convention stage area, attendees are planning their strategy to try to defeat the 45th president of the United States. Delegate Claude Cummings Jr. says his Texas branch already has a plan to turn solidly red areas blue near his hometown of Houston. He says it's all about staying in close touch.

CLAUDE CUMMINGS JR: We just didn't leave them alone after the last election cycle, after the presidential election. We kept talking with them about issues that were important to them. And it wouldn't - it hadn't been difficult with what 45 has been talking about to get people excited about going back to the polls again.

KLINEFELTER: Further down the hallway, Delegate Diana Robertson says her branch near Philadelphia is already flooding voters with information about Republicans' opposition to Obamacare and raising the minimum wage. Robertson says they're especially targeting young, black voters.

DIANA ROBERTSON: Because they're not always the generation who also listens to the news and all that. But they do do the tweeting. They see these things going on, and they are hearing about it. And think the more we just keep them informed, they'll be the energizers.

KLINEFELTER: Across downtown Detroit in a hotel ballroom, that information campaign is well underway.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: NAACP Youth and College Division, if you ready to fight, say yeah.

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: Yeah.

KLINEFELTER: Hundreds of young people are watching huge video screens with topics like recognizing the signs of voter suppression. Outside the meeting, 21-year-old Armonee Jackson is compiling the information to share with students on the Arizona State campus.

ARMONEE JACKSON: When they hear these things and it's coming from one of their peers, it has a different effect than when they're hearing it from the media. So if there's more people like me who are talking to their friends and having these conversations with their friends, their friends are more likely to vote.

KLINEFELTER: But nearby, 17-year-old Amari Brantley says his friends in Connecticut, who are preparing to become first-time voters, have a lot to think about.

AMARI BRANTLEY: When you're thinking about who you want to vote for and why you want to vote for them, that kind of can take a toll on your life.

KLINEFELTER: Looking at the president's tweets, Brantley understands why some of his friends are a bit frightened.

BRANTLEY: He should be a role model. Nowadays, when you ask a child what they want to be when they grow up, you barely hear them say president anymore due to the fact of everything that he's done.

KLINEFELTER: NAACP officials say that can change if a new occupant lives in the White House. And many of those attending this convention pledged to try to help make that happen. For NPR News, I'm Quinn Klinefelter in Detroit. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.