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NAACP History

On February 12, 1909 the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was formed in response to the horrific practice of lynching. Appalled at the violence that was committed against African Americans, a group of White liberals and seven African Americans, including Dr. W.E.B. DuBois and Ida B. Wells-Barnett, voicing the goals of DuBois’ Niagara Movement of 1905, formed this esteemed organization. The NAACP’s stated goal was to secure the rights guaranteed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution, which promised an end to slavery, the equal protection of the law, and universal adult male suffrage.

Today, the NAACP’s principal objective is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of United States and eliminate race prejudice. The NAACP seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through the democratic processes.

Early Days

By 1913 the NAACP had established branch offices in such cities as Boston, Massachusetts, Baltimore, Maryland, Kansas City, Missouri, Washington, D.C., Detroit, Michigan and St. Louis, Missouri.

NAACP membership grew rapidly, from around 9,000 in 1917 to around 90,000 in 1919, with more than 300 local branches. Writer and diplomat James Weldon Johnson became the Association’s first African American secretary in 1920, and Louis T. Wright, a surgeon, was named the first African American chairman of its board of directors in 1934.

In 1935 Attorney Charles H. Houston was hired as NAACP chief counsel. Houston was the Howard University law school dean whose strategy on school-segregation cases paved the way for his protégé Thurgood Marshall to prevail in 1954’s Brown v. Board of Education, the decision that ended segregation in the public school system.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the NAACP began to focus on economic justice. After years of tension with white labor unions, the NAACP worked with the newly formed Congress of Industrial Organizations to win jobs for African Americans. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, a NAACP national board member, convinced President Franklin D. Roosevelt to outlaw job discrimination in the armed forces and defense industries. President Roosevelt finally agreed to open thousands of jobs to African American workers when labor leader A. Philip Randolph, in collaboration with the NAACP, threatened a national March on Washington movement in 1941. President Roosevelt also agreed to set up a Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC) to ensure compliance.

Civil Rights Era

The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s reflected the NAACP’s goals. It was during this time period, 1952, that the San Jose NAACP Branch was chartered. Led by NAACP National President Roy Wilkins, the NAACP, along with A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin and other national organizations planned the 1963 March on Washington. With the passage of major civil rights legislation the following year, the Association accomplished what seemed an unlikely task. The NAACP, was assisted by many celebrities and leaders, including Sammy Davis Jr., Lena Horne, Jackie Robinson, Harry Belafonte, Ella Baker, and Daisy Bates, advisor to the Little Rock Nine.

Close of the first century

Millions of African Americans continued to be afflicted as urban education remained substandard, job discrimination persisted and limited employment opportunities led to increased poverty and crime. De facto racial segregation remained throughout the United States, proving the need for continued NAACP advocacy and action.

2016 and Beyond

The 21st century, finds the NAACP focused on disparities in economics, health care, education, voter empowerment and the criminal justice system, while also continuing its role as legal advocate for civil rights issues. Major issues of police misconduct regarding their brutalization and shootings of many unarmed African Americans has heightened the urgency of the work of the NAACP. Under the leadership of Attorney Cornell William Brooks, who became National President and CEO in 2014, the NAACP continues to fiercely address issues that must be addressed to move the agenda forward to make this country a fair and just place for all. It has and will be the dedication and perseverance of the more than 425,000 NAACP members and our allies that will save lives and change America for the better.

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The Segregation Era (1900-1939) – The Civil Right Act of 1964. A Long Struggle for Freedom Exhibitions – Library of Congress. Click on the following link for full story:The Segregation Era (1900-1939) – The Civil Right Act of 1964