WASHINGTON – On September 21, 2023, NAACP President Derrick Johnson, alongside NAACP National Leadership joined FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell to sign an agreement outlining ways in which the two organizations will work together to center equity in disaster preparedness and response efforts. NAACP President & CEO Derrick Johnson released the following statement in celebration of the renewed partnership:
"As we stand on the threshold of this momentous collaboration with FEMA, we underscore the pivotal role of the NAACP in advocating for Black communities. Let's be clear - natural disasters have a disproportionate and devastating impact on Black communities and it is our duty to ensure that they are not left behind in the aftermath. This partnership signifies both the NAACP and FEMA's commitment to change that narrative and to put the well-being and resilience of Black communities at the forefront of disaster response. The NAACP remains resolute in its dedication to achieving this vision of equitable disaster resilience, where every member of our community can thrive, even in the face of the most formidable challenges."
The agreement continues the organizations' longstanding formal partnership beginning in 2013, when the first agreement was signed. The NAACP provides community-based support related to the administration of emergency management in disaster situations, aiming for emergency preparedness, response and recovery efforts that are equitably delivered.
"FEMA has always worked closely with NAACP when responding to disasters and throughout the recovery process. From California to Mississippi to Florida, and every place in between, our partnership ensures we're able to meet people where they are and help them before, during and after disasters," said FEMA Administrator Criswell. "NAACP is a steadfast champion of equity and always leans forward when disasters strike. Today's agreement formalizes and strengthens our valued partnership and reaffirms FEMA's own commitment to putting people first."
The signing comes on the heels of an Intergenerational Climate Resilience Roundtable recently hosted by NAACP and FEMA during NAACP's Climate Week NYC activations. The roundtable focused on disaster preparedness, climate resilience and instilling equity in emergency management. Discussions also included disaster preparedness for older adults, the theme of FEMA's Ready Campaign and National Preparedness Month this September.
"From the horrific aftermath of hurricanes to the relentless onslaught of wildfires, history has shown us time and time again that natural disasters disproportionately affect Black communities," said Abre' Conner, NAACP Director for the Center for Environmental and Climate Justice. "The statistics paint a stark picture of inequity, and it is incumbent upon us to advocate for increased efforts, resources, and strategies to protect and uplift our communities. The NAACP and FEMA's partnership is pivotal, serving as our platform to advocate and implement transformative change. We will persist in urging local, state and federal officials to think creatively for change and fulfill their duty to protect and serve all people, ensuring Black communities are protected."
As part of the collaborative partnership, NAACP's Emergency Management Task Force, led by Florida State Conference President Adora Nweze, will meet regularly with FEMA leadership to advance progress on equity within disaster preparedness and resilience. The 5-person Task Force will work to ensure that the barriers of bureaucracy are broken down to center communities of color as they continue to be disproportionately impacted by the worsening effects of climate change.