After Pastor Jethroe (Jeff) Moore stepped down from his role as president of San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP in June, the role was quickly filled by former Milpitas Vice Mayor Bob Nuñez, who had already served as the organization’s vice-president for about eight years.
Reached by phone by The Beat, Nuñez was in good spirits, describing himself as doing “exceptionally good.”
“It was a surprise,” Nuñez said, “Pastor Moore taking off and going to Atlanta.” He then described Moore as a close personal friend. “The pastor and I have very different styles,” he added, stating that as issues emerged, Jeff was right up front in addressing them. “I bring certain strengths,” Nuñez explained, “and we have others that can do [what Jeff did].”
He then stated that this work is “something that I deeply believe in. I am committed to the values and the mission of the NAACP. I am a lifetime member of the NAACP.”
Nuñez gave us a rundown of what the NAACP is up to lately: They’re attending to the state’s new no cash bail law. They’re working to support the unhoused. They’re working toward economic recovery and development, namely in terms of existing small businesses or those just getting started. And they’re trying to get more Black and brown people into government positions, first by helping them get internships within government agencies, then by teaching them how to conduct campaigns and helping them run for office. In the meantime, they’re assisting foster youth — which Nuñez cites as having the “highest dropout rate of any youth at all” — working to keep them within their own families when there’s a need for placement.
Also, the NAACP seeks to keep Zoom going as an option for public attendees of government meetings. Said Nuñez, “Usually persons that have two and three jobs can’t get to a city council meeting or a school district meeting…Zoom allows for that…allows them to be a better part of government.” In addition, offering access to such meetings in multiple languages, said Nuñez, will only help to enhance people’s sense of engagement.
He spoke, too, of supporting students of color, at which point the topic shifted to the hot button issue of teaching critical race theory in classrooms. But noting our geographical location, Nuñez pointed to “a belief that we’re not gonna have the same kind of issue that we see in other parts of the country. But that’s because it’s Santa Clara County.” Just the same, he wants to circle in on any districts where there might be an issue, without overemphasizing the matter in districts that are embracing the curriculum. Asked why some might object to critical race theory being taught, Nuñez pointed to “The idea that you would single out a particular race that is holding back another race, by design and such.”
But already, in classrooms, Nuñez has been a firsthand witness to positive and productive discussions around race.
In the meantime, in the wake of 2020, economic recovery is of paramount importance: “A lot of our [people of color’s] businesses were the first ones to close, and they’re struggling to try to reopen.” Nuñez highlighted the NAACP’s efforts to find funding for such businesses, as well as for businesses that were on the cusp of opening before the pandemic but were not able to.
“There isn’t enough money to keep persons here,” Nuñez stated, noting that Moore left for Georgia because he “couldn’t earn enough here to pay his rent.”
A year and a half from now, Nuñez’s presidential seat will come up for reelection. He indeed plans to run. Asked if he has plans to run again for Milpitas City Council, Nuñez said, “Right now I don’t.”
“We have to be able,” said Bob Nuñez in closing, “to continue to fight for social justice, and our place at the table when it comes to elected offices and things of that sort. But at the end of the day, we have to make sure persons earn enough money — you know, truly earn enough money — to sustain themselves here. And so that’s what we will be working towards. And I’m a firm believer that we are capable of doing that.”