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NAACP Appoints Leader to Counter 'New Attempts to Roll Back Civil Rights Protections'

FILE - NAACP Interim president and CEO Derrick Johnson, right, speaks during a July 31, 2017 news conference in Jackson, Mississippi.

The NAACP, one of the oldest civil rights organizations in the United States, announced the hiring of an insider to lead group as it responds "aggressively and decisively to new attempts to roll back civil rights protections."

At a meeting of the board of directors Saturday in Arlington, Virginia, just south of Washington, the board finalized the hiring of Derrick Johnson as the NAACP's 19th president and CEO. The Jackson, Mississippi native served as interim leader since July and previously as vice president of the board.

"Derrick has proven himself as a strong, decisive leader," said board chairman Leon Russell. "With new threats to communities of color emerging daily and attacks on our democracy, the NAACP must be more steadfast and more immovable then ever before..."

Since the departure of president and CEO Cornell Williams in May, Johnson has led the organization's renewed efforts to support local chapters and reestablish itself in the face of growing groups such as Black Lives Matter.

Johnson said in an interview with the Associated Press the NAACP will be more politically active and will amend its non-profit status so it can engage in unlimited lobbying and promotion of issues and political candidates.

The NAACP has been conducting a nationwide listening tour, trying to determine the most effective way to support local civil rights workers who are grappling with issues such as police brutality and voter suppression.

Local chapters "want to be able to have a stronger voice," Johnson said.

The civil rights organization recently sued President Donald Trump's administration to stop it from killing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which granted residency to undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children.