A change in leadership and a lowering of partisan rhetoric probably led to this speech. This speaks well for the NAACP's new president, Bruce S. Gordon. Julian Bond will stay as partisan as ever, but the NAACP probably has many Republican members. Although the GOP is still seen as hostile to most blacks, African Americans are also starting to join and engage the Republican Party in record numbers. This is probably best represented by the candidacy of Michael Steele, who is seeking to be the next senator from Maryland.
UPDATE The dependably partisan Washington Post uses this headline to desbribe President Bush's speech: "Bush NAACP Address Receives Lukewarm Applause." We saw the speech and heard repeated applause at several points during the president's speech. You would have thought he was speaking to a joint session of Congress. The Washington Post should just set up a desk over at the DNC. What sort of journalistics standards allows this sort of political bias?
UPDATE They changed the headline, probably due to AAEA criticism, and now Darryl Fears, a fair and balanced reporter at The Post, wrote a good article: "At NAACP, Bush Tries To Mend Rifts."