It was smart of Trump to turn down the NAACP's invitation

Give Mr. Trump credit, however, for not doing something that too many Republican presidential candidates before him have done, only to have it blow up in their face. When the NAACP asked Mr. Trump to address its annual convention last month, he declined. Good for him. Giving speeches to civil-rights groups like the NAACP isn’t effective black outreach. It’s a setup. Blacks open to Republicanism aren’t likely to be found at NAACP gatherings, which are thinly disguised Democratic political rallies. And younger blacks who might be interested in hearing out the GOP have little use for the NAACP. Republicans who try to reach black voters by going through the civil-rights establishment have nothing to gain, unless they like to watch footage of black people booing them on CNN.

There was a time when the NAACP was a responsible gatekeeper of black communities, attuned to their needs and looking out for their best interests. Its leadership was comprised of serious people addressing serious concerns. But those days are a distant memory. Today’s civil-rights leaders and organizations have their own agenda, and their highest priority by far is to stay relevant by insisting that white racism explains racial disparities—even if that means turning the actual problems of poor black communities into a secondary concern.

There have been many examples over the decades of the growing disconnect between the traditional black leadership’s priorities and those of the black underclass, but the latest one is worth examining. Last month the NAACP called for a moratorium on charter schools, even though you would be hard-pressed to find an education model that has done more to narrow the black-white achievement gap over the past quarter century.