The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow A Century of Segregation
Jim Crow Stories
A National Struggle
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Jim Crow Stories

Introduction People Narratives Events Organizations

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People  Founded: C.1909

The National Association of Colored People (NAACP) was born on February 12, 1909, on the hundredth anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birthday. It was founded by a small group of 60 white and black activists who had been shocked by a race riot that exploded in Springfield, Illinois -- the city in which Lincoln had practiced law -- the year before.
They issued what they named "The Call," a summons for civil rights activists to meet and form an organization that would fight for black civil and political rights and an end to racial discrimination. Among the founders were Ida Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. Du Bois, Henry Moscowitz, Mary White Ovington, Oswald Garrison Villiard and William English Walling. Banner: A Man Was Lynched Yesterday
NAACP members
Dr. Du Bois, a Harvard-educated black scholar then teaching at Atlanta University, was asked to be editor of the organization's publication. Throughout its history, THE CRISIS was the voice of the NAACP. The NAACP's goal was to fight for integration and against discrimination in all areas of American life. It challenged segregation in the federal government; raised public awareness of the pervasiveness and brutality of lynching; protested the release of THE BIRTH OF A NATION, an inflammatory motion picture denigrating blacks and praising the Ku Klux Klan; and advocated an end to discrimination in housing, education, employment, voting, and transportation.

Then and Now: Three years after its inception, the NAACP had a little over 320 members; today it has a membership of more than 500,000. James Weldon Johnson was the organization's first black president. Walter White headed the NAACP from the 1930s to the 1950s. In 1934, under the leadership of chief legal counsel Charles Houston, the NAACP planned to attack segregation in the federal courts and won several major victories. In 1939 the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund was established independently of the NAACP to act as its legal arm. The NAACP challenged the legality of the all-white primary, segregation in higher education, and segregated interstate travel in buses. It won victories in all three cases: In 1944, the Court declared the all-white primary unconstitutional; in 1946 it banned segregation in interstate busing; and in 1954, the Court ruled that segregation in public education violated the Constitution. During the Civil Rights Movement, the NAACP organized voter registration drives and sit-ins in the South as well as initiates legal challenges in the court. The current president is Kweisi Mfume.

-- Richard Wormser

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Historical Documents
Platform Adopted by Those Who Helped Found the NAACP, 1909.
The platform adopted by a group of roughly 60 individuals that led to the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Related Pages
W.E.B. Du Bois

Ida B. Wells

The Crisis

Charles Houston

March on Washington

Brown v. Board of Education

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