News Press Release

NAACP Opposes Nomination of Mark Burkhalter For Ambassadorship, Urges Immediate Withdrawal

July 14, 2020

July 14, 2020 – The NAACP announced its strong opposition to Donald Trump’s nomination of Mark Burkhalter to be Ambassador to Norway and called for Burkhalter’s immediate withdrawal. The NAACP cited as completely disqualifying Burkhalter’s role in creating and distributing a racist flier during a county commission election in Georgia in the 1990s.

Burkhalter, who served in the Georgia Legislature, distorted and exaggerated the features of Gordon Joyner, a Black incumbent on the Fulton County Commission, in a campaign flier. At the time, Burkhalter was serving as campaign chairman for then-Fulton County Commission Chairman Mitch Skandalakis. Burkhalter directed the offensive mailing be delivered to white voters as a direct appeal to racial prejudice. After Mr. Joyner sued Burkhalter and others, a settlement was reached and Burkhalter issued an apology. Despite the lawsuit and a related ethics investigation, Burkhalter failed to disclose his deplorable actions to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which considers his nomination.

Derrick Johnson, president & CEO of the NAACP, made the following statement: “Mr. Burkhalter’s actions were racist and deeply offensive. It is inconceivable that someone who sought to use racial prejudice to influence the electoral process could now be chosen to represent our democracy to the world. This is not what America stands for, and Mark Burkhalter is unfit for any public position. We oppose Mr. Burkhalter’s nomination and call upon the White House to immediately withdraw it. This nomination is objectionable at any time but coming during nationwide protests demanding an end to systemic racism just underscores the Trump administration’s deep antipathy toward the Black community.

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Founded in 1909 in response to the ongoing violence against Black people around the country, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is the largest and most pre-eminent civil rights organization in the nation. We have over 2,200 units and branches across the nation, along with well over 2M activists. Our mission is to secure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights in order to eliminate race-based discrimination and ensure the health and well-being of all persons. The NAACP is a c4 organization (contributions are not tax-deductible), and we have a partner c3 organizations known as NAACP Empowerment Programs (contributions are fully tax-deductible as allowed by the IRS). NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund — also referred to as the NAACP-LDF was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but separated in 1957 to become a completely separate entity. It is recognized as the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and shares our commitment to equal rights.