LOS ANGELES -- The president of the California branch of the NAACP was stunned when she got an invitation recently from the Los Angeles unit of NCAAP to a May gala honoring, among others, Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling with a lifetime achievement award.
Sterling already had been given a lifetime achievement award by the L.A. chapter in 2009 – the same year he agreed to pay a $2.765 million settlement in a case that alleged he discriminated against African Americans, Latinos and others at apartment buildings he owned in Los Angeles County.
In an interview Monday on ESPN radio with host Colin Cowherd, Alice Huffman said she was surprised Sterling was about to be honored again.
"I thought to myself, 'A second lifetime award? That's kind of unusual. He hasn't died and come back to life. He already has one lifetime award. Why the second one?' And then this story broke," said Huffman, president of the California branch.
Huffman said it is not unusual for local chapters of the NAACP to receive donations from corporations and individuals and then hand out awards to those people.
Sterling in the past has publicly voiced support for the L.A. chapter of the NAACP and its president, Leon Jenkins. The website The Daily Caller reported Monday that Sterling's charitable foundation has made numerous grants to the L.A. chapter in past years.
"The local branches of the NAACP can choose people they have a close relationship with, and if their executive committee agrees, they can give that person an award," Huffman said.
"As I recall, the (L.A.) branch took a little heat for that award in 2009. The branch president pointed out that the litigation was going on and was not conclusive, and therefore he did not want to prejudge. They went ahead and gave him the award."
Jenkins was not immediately available for comment. He planned a news conference later Monday.
The NAACP national office announced Sunday that Sterling would not receive an award at the L.A. event in May.
Other honorees include Al Sharpton and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who are to receive awards as Person of the Year. Retired attorney Charles Patton is to receive a lifetime achievement award.
Among others also set to be honored: Shannon Brown, Federal Express executive; Javier Angulo, Wal-Mart executive; Leland Spencer, restaurant owner and Hester Watkins, retired educator.