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National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

Founding

In 1908, white citizens of Springfield, Illinois, home of our nation's 16th President, attempted to drive blacks out of the city. Riots broke out, during which scores of blacks were killed and wounded, and thousands more were forced to flee. The incident was reported in newspapers across the country.

In January, 1909, six people (five of them white) met in a New York City apartment to discuss the terrible conditions under which black Americans were living. The group decided to issue a "Call for a national conference on the Negro question."

Sixty people, black and white, answered the Call and, on February 12, 1909 (Abraham Lincoln's birthday), formed the National Negro Committee. In May, 1910, the Committee's membership organized the permanent body that is now known as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Timeline of Major Events

1910 The NAACP came to the defense of Pink Franklin, a black farmhand who accidentally killed a policeman when the officer broke into his home at 3 am to arrest him on a civil charge. Franklin lost his appeal before the Supreme Court, and, in 1911, NAACP official Joel Spingarn and his brother Arthur decided that the organization should create a legal division in order to participate in such cases in the future.

1913 The NAACP launched a public protest after President Woodrow Wilson officially introduced segregation into the federal government.

1915 The NAACP organized a boycott of D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation, which depicted black people in a less-than-flattering manner.

1917 The NAACP fought for and won the right of blacks to be commissioned as officers in World War I. 600 are subsequently commissioned, and 700,000 register for the draft.

1930 The NAACP successfully protested the nomination of Supreme Court nominee John Parker, who officially favored laws discriminating against blacks.

1935 NAACP lawyers Charles Houston and Thurgood Marshall won a legal battle to allow the admission of a black student to the University of Maryland.

1954 The Supreme Court declared that racial segregation in the public schools is unconstitutional (Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka). Thurgood Marshall was the lead counsel on behalf of the NAACP, which took the case on behalf of the plaintiff.

1957 The first Civil Rights Act was passed.

1960 The Greensboro, North Carolina, NAACP Youth Council staged a series of non-violent sit-ins at segregated lunch counters. More than 60 stores ultimately desegregated their counters.

1963 Medgar Evers, an NAACP Field Director, was assassinated in front of his house in Jackson, Mississippi.

August 28, 1963 The "Jobs and Freedom" March on Washington, D.C., at which the key speaker was Martin Luther King, Jr., was held. It was the nation's greatest mass demonstration for civil rights to that time.

1964 The second Civil Rights Act was passed.

1965 The Voting Rights Act was passed.

1968 The Fair Housing Act was passed.

Organization

The NAACP is headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. It is led by an executive director, who heads a paid staff of about 160. The national organization consists of seven regional divisions, each with its own director. Within each jurisdiction are state conferences composed of local branches. Its operating funds are obtained through membership fees and tax-free contributions, as well as subscriptions to its principal publication, The Crisis, founded by W.E.B. DuBois in 1910.

The NAACP's official website is www.naacp.org.

SEE ALSO
Abraham Lincoln
President Woodrow Wilson
World War I
Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka

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The Robinson Library >> American History >> United States: General History and Description >> African-Americans