(JTA) — The national leadership of the NAACP will take over the Philadelphia chapter following an outcry over an anti-Semitic social media post by the chapter’s president.
The executive committee of the Philadelphia chapter voted on Aug. 20 to give the national office of the NAACP full control over the chapter and to transition to new leadership, the Philadelphia Tribune reported Wednesday.
The announcement of the takeover came a day after local Black and Jewish leaders held a virtual discussion to address Muhammad’s social media post and smooth tensions between the two communities. Muhammad did not participate, according to the Tribune.
Local Jewish organizations, along with local and state officials, have been calling for the resignation or removal of Rodney Muhammad as the chapter president. Muhammad’s post on his Facebook page last month was taken down amid the backlash, and he said in a statement that he had not known the image in the meme known as “the Happy Merchant” was considered anti-Semitic before sharing it.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Muhammad offered an apology for the first time, according to the Tribune.
“I apologize for my previous post and the hurt this has caused, and I regret the insult, pain, and offense it brought to all, especially those of the Jewish community,” the statement said. “The coming months are critical for America, and the efforts of both the NAACP and religious communities, working together across the country, are vital for the road ahead of us.”
The controversial meme is an image that the Anti-Defamation League says is commonly used by white supremacists. It includes photos of Ice Cube, DeSean Jackson and Nick Cannon, Black celebrities who recently posted anti-Semitic comments on social media. (Jackson and Cannon have apologized.) Muhammad posted criticism of the backlash that Cannon, Jackson and others have faced over their anti-Semitic posts.
The 68-year-old civil rights figure is a Nation of Islam mosque leader who often praises Louis Farrakhan, the news website Billy Penn reported. Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam’s leader, has spewed anti-Semitic rhetoric over the years that included comparing Jews to termites.