NAACP president calls Trump 'racist,' urges African Americans to vote in November

"We have to actually take action,” Johnson said.

September 14, 2020, 6:12 PM

This report is part of "Turning Point," a groundbreaking month-long series by ABC News examining the racial reckoning sweeping the United States and exploring whether it can lead to lasting reconciliation.

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson called President Donald Trump "racist" as he urged African Americans to cast a ballot this November.

"This is a president that has done everything to show that he has actually been operating in office as a racist," Johnson told ABC News correspondent Amy Robach on Monday. "He's done it in words, when he's called certain nations 's------- nations.' He's done it in policy, he's done it in actions, and he's demonstrated that he's using the authority of the White House, the presidency, to subvert the aspirations of African Americans because of their race. That's racism."

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has denied Trump uses racist language on numerous occasions.

Johnson, a longtime civil rights activist who guided the NAACP "through a period of re-envisioning and reinvigoration" since 2017, according to the organization, went on to highlight the need to "take action" through civic engagement as he likened voting in November to a continuation of demands for social justice this summer, most notably after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.

"We can no longer talk about the problems that public policy has delivered to the African American community, we have to actually take action," Johnson said. "Action right now is moving from peaceful protest in the streets to the ballot box in November to leverage the power of voting and then take that value proposition that we bring to bear for policy makers that are elected to move towards public policy changes to address systemic problems that this nation has yet to address."

The NAACP head also detailed voter disenfranchisement allegations from the organization's lawsuit against the postal service, calling for high-capacity mail sorting machines to be reinstalled.

"We want restored all the things done to harm the delivery of the post office," Johnson said. "The harm that has been done needs to be repaired. High capacity sorting machines need to be put back in place so individuals who decide to mail their ballot, they can be assured that the ballot will be received timely in their jurisdiction."

The Postal Service claims it has "more than enough capacity" to handle all election mail this fall as it generally delivers "433 million pieces of mail a day," according to the agency's website.

Johnson also touched on NAACP's recently launched "Black Voices Change Lives" campaign, encouraging voter participation among African Americans. The program has recruited 135,000 volunteers "to increase voter participation" particularly in critical battleground states, Johnson said.