National Association For The Advancement Of Colored People

National Association For The Advancement Of Colored People
   Formed in 1910 as an outgrowth of the 1909 National Negro Congress called by white reformers and journalists Oswald Garrison Villard, Mary White Ovington, and William Walling following the race riot in Springfield, Illinois, the NAACP became the leading civil rights organization in the United States until the 1950s. With its monthly journal The Crisis, edited by African American W. E. B. Du Bois, the NAACP quickly grew in size and by 1919 had a membership of 90,000. Although many of the leading officers were white, after World War I the organization was increasingly influenced by its African American national secretary, James Weldon Johnson, and field secretary, Walter White. The association organized a silent protest following the East St. Louis Riot in 1917, led the campaign against lynching in the 1920s, and in the 1930s took part in the defense of the Scottsboro Boys. It also had some success influencing President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, particularly through Eleanor Roosevelt.
   In 1939, the NAACP established a legal defense and educational fund that began the legal challenges to segregation that culminated in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision in 1954. That year, the association also began to work with other groups to challenge segregation and discrimination in national defense, and in 1941 it supported A. Philip Randolph’s call for a March on Washington that led to the creation of the Fair Employment Practices Committee. After Pearl Harbor, the NAACP supported the war effort but maintained the pressure for full inclusion of African Americans. During the war, Walter White toured U.S. Army bases in Europe and reported on discrimination. The membership of the NAACP grew from about 21,000 in 1930 to 54,000 by 1940. By the end of World War II, it had reached more than 500,000.
   After the war, the organization continued to support cases testing segregation in education, support voter registration movements in the South, and encourage President Harry S. Truman to speak out against racial violence. However, the NAACP suffered to some extent during the Cold War in that it was often accused by its opponents of being influenced by communism. In attempting to answer such charges, the organization tended to avoid association with radical ideas or individuals. By the mid-1950s, it was seen by the younger generation of African Americans as established and rather conservative. It was supplanted to some extent by new groups like the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). However, it provided much needed legal and financial support to these groups during the 1960s, and while they tended to disappear after 1973, the NAACP remained as an influential voice for black Americans.

Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era . . 2015.

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