The Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are trying to steer attention away from an NAACP resolution condemning racism within the tea party movement.
Jackson deflected the issue Wednesday during the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Sharpton suggested people should be asking if the tea party is "trying to change the equation that is going to protect us."
The civil rights leaders say the focus should be on jobs and an upcoming march in Washington.
Delegates at the Kansas City convention approved a resolution Tuesday calling on tea party activists and others to "repudiate the racist element and activities" within the movement.
Tea party organizers are disputing claims of racism and want the resolution withdrawn.
© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.