A Brief History of the NAACP
For more than 100 years our nation’s premier civil rights organization has fought for human rights, voting rights, economic rights. The NAACP’s stated goal was to work to secure the rights guaranteed in the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the United States Constitution.
Founded on February 12, 1909, the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, formed in New York City. When a following meeting of prominent Americans took place in May of that year, the first officers of the organization were selected.
W.E.B. DuBois (William Edward Burghardt DuBois) founded The Crisis, a magazine, which became the official publication of the NAACP, in 1910. One of the The Crisis’ aims according to DuBois, was “to show the danger of racial prejudice”. Dubois, one of the co-founders of the NAACP, graduated from Harvard University, became a history professor at Atlanta University and published a collection of essays entitled, The Souls of Black Folks.
By 1917, the organization had 9,000 members and more than 300 branches.
The NAACP began to lead the “struggle” through the legal system. Several noteworthy court cases were championed by the NAACP. The landmark United States Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, in 1954, outlawed segregation in public schools. Thurgood Marshall, chief counsel for the NAACP, argued several cases before the Supreme Court during his career, eventually being appointed to the court in 1967. Justice Marshall was nominated by President Johnson, becoming the first African-American Supreme Court Justice. The NAACP is headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, which happens to be the birth place of Justice Marshall.
During the 1960’s the NAACP, was at the forefront during the passage of key legislation. The civil rights movement was crucial in developing the conscious of the country. Noted legislative accomplishments were the Civil rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
Shaping the hearts and minds of people, at home and abroad, has been the legacy of the NAACP. Through demonstrations, marches, legislative accomplishments, electoral initiatives and other non-violent means, this “grassroots” organization has worked to have American live up to its creed.
Martin Luther King, Jr. – (1929 – 1968); Religious and civil rights leader
John Lewis – (1921 – ); Civil rights leader, U.S. Congressional Representative
Jackie Robinson – (1919 – 1972); Integrated major league baseball
Thurgood Marshall – (1908 – 1993); U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Shirley Chisholm – (1924 – 2005); U.S. Congressional Representative