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Head of Los Angeles NAACP chapter resigns over move to honor Sterling

LOS ANGELES — The president of the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP resigned Thursday, following scrutiny of his plan to give Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling an award for promoting civil rights.

Leon Jenkins was to present Sterling with a “lifetime achievement award” later this month. Jenkins rescinded that offer after a recording surfaced on which Sterling disparaged black men.

In a letter to the national leader of the nation’s oldest civil rights organization, Jenkins wrote, “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.”

Jenkins wanted to give Sterling a “lifetime achievement award” May 15 at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Los Angeles chapter. The decision was questioned by some civil rights activists, who cited allegations of discrimination in Sterling’s past.

In November 2009, Sterling agreed to pay $2.73 million to settle allegations by the government that he refused to rent apartments to Hispanics and blacks and to families with children. The U.S. Justice Department sued Sterling in August 2006 for allegations of housing discrimination in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles.

In a statement accompanying the announcement, the national NAACP said it is “developing guidelines for its branches to help them in their award selection process.”

After the recording of Sterling having a private conversation with a woman became public, Jenkins backtracked.

“There is a personal, economic and social price that Mr. Sterling must pay for his attempt to turn back the clock on race relations,” Jenkins said Monday.

The next day, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling from the league for life, fined the real estate magnate $2.5 million, and said he wants the league’s board of governors to make Sterling sell the team.

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