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Origin and Evolution of The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Denise Robeson
HUS 121 Introduction to Human Services
Instructor Thomas M. Walsh, MA
January 23, 2013

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded on February 12, 1909. It is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights based organization. The NAACP’s initial call for meeting was originated by a group of white liberals that included Mary White Ovington and Oswald Garrison Villard both descendants of abolitionists. The initial call was in response to the practice of lynching and race rioting. Sixty people answered the call to discuss racial justice. Among the sixty people were seven African Americans. I find it very enlightening and refreshing to know that in the beginning stages White Americans pioneered the movement for racial equality. In the NAACP’s early recordings, a goal was stated to secure for all people rights guaranteed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution. The Amendments promised an end to slavery, equal law for all, and an end to adult male suffrage. The NAACP’s main objective is to guarantee political, educational, social and economic equality for all minority citizens of the United States and to eradicate racial prejudice. The NAACP strives to tear down all barriers of racial discrimination.
The NAACP’s national office was established in New York City in 1910 and a board of directors and president was appointed. Moorefield Storey, a white constitutional lawyer and past president of the American Bar Association was the president. Again an astonishing factor to know White America took such leadership roles in racial justice for minorities. The only African American appointed to the board was W. E. B. Dubois. He was made director of research and publications. In 1910 Dubois launched the official journal of the NAACP, The Crisis. The Crisis served as the main source of communication for civil rights. The Crisis is still in existence today and is published quarterly. Each issue features a section entitled “The NAACP Today”. In 1913 it became prevalent that the organization needed to mobilize and transition into local branches. States such as Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, and Michigan were among the first states to house local branches. Many others would be added. The membership rapidly grew from approximately 9,000 in 1917 to around 90,000 in 1919 with over 300 local branches. The NAACP would be entangled in a series of court battles in the early years. One major victory was outlawing the regulation denying minorities to vote in 1910. This helped establish the NAACP as a strong legal force. The NAACP was engaged in a 30 year battle on lynching. The NAACP supported the Dyer Bill, which called for drastic punishment to those who participated in or failed to prosecute lynch mobs. The bill passed the House but not the Senate. The NAACP’s publishing titled “Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889-1919” drastically decreased the incidence of lynching. Another triumph in the battle against lynching was the association’s success in blocking a segregationist Judge from being nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In 1930 they were the catalyst for the reversal of, separate-but-equal that had governed public facilities. Also during the Great Depression of the 1930’s the unequal struggle for African Americans forced the NAACP to take a look at economic justice. After many failed attempts by the NAACP and much laboring, President Roosevelt agreed to establish a Fair Employment Practice Committee which would oversee the equality of the job market. This opened up thousands of jobs to black workers.
The NAACP grew tremendously throughout the 40’s. By 1946 it was estimated to have roughly 600,000 members. It continued coercing for equality in all aspects of life regardless of race, federal anti-lynching laws and for an end to state –mandated segregation.
In 1954 the legislation supporting segregation in schools was outlawed due to the association’s relentless efforts. The NAACP was indeed a growing and very powerful force. They were instrumental in integration of the armed forces in 1948 and also numerous Civil Rights Acts as well as the Voting Rights Acts of 1965.
Although laws were being passed and Civil Right Acts put into place in the courts, the change in society was very bloody, slow, painful and sometimes endured unto death. There were many grievous crimes against members of The NAACP. In spite of the hideous crimes, the group continued to propel forward in its plight for justice and equality. Today the crimes would be categorized as “hate crimes”.
The Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s further revealed the goals of the NAACP but did not change the behavior of the people. Leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership conference felt it necessary to take the actions to the streets. He did so by leading many successful non-violent protests.
Unfortunately after many battles and unprecedented landmarks the struggle still exists today. Accomplishments have been made but in the hearts and minds of many Americans equality will never exist among people of a different skin color. For absolute change to take place, a person’s mind and heart must be changed.
Thus the echo of Dr. Martin Luther king still reins “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools”. (Moncour, Michael 1994-2012 QuotationsPage.com)

References
Moncour, M. 1994-2012. Quotations by Arthur. www.quotationspage.com
NAACP: 100 Years of History 2009-2013. www.naacp.org/pages/naacp-history
Martin, K. 2013. Civil Rights Activities of the 1950’s and 1960’s. retrieved from www.about.com American History
Jonas, G. 2004. Freedom’s Sword. Retrieved from amazon.com
Hughes, L. 1962. Fight for Freedom: Story of the NAACP. New York: Norton Publishing

References: Moncour, M. 1994-2012. Quotations by Arthur. www.quotationspage.com NAACP: 100 Years of History 2009-2013. www.naacp.org/pages/naacp-history Martin, K. 2013. Civil Rights Activities of the 1950’s and 1960’s. retrieved from www.about.com American History Jonas, G. 2004. Freedom’s Sword. Retrieved from amazon.com Hughes, L. 1962. Fight for Freedom: Story of the NAACP. New York: Norton Publishing

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