National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
|National Association for the Advancement of Colored People|
|Headquarters|| Baltimore , Maryland |
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909 to end racism and discrimination. It is the oldest and largest civil rights organization. The NAACP operates as a non-profit and intends "to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights and there is no racial hatred or racial discrimination".
- 1 History
- 2 Current objectives and activities
- 3 Organizational structure
- 4 References
- 1909: A group that originally deemed themselves the National Negro Committee, gathered to answer "The Call" in New York City on February 12, 1909. This group was composed of blacks and whites and eventually settled on the name The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
- 1910: The NAACP starts taking on courtroom battles fighting social injustice beginning with Pink Franklin. This case had as a defendant a black farm worker who had killed an officer of the law by mistake while defending himself and his home. The policeman had broken into his home in the middle of the night to arrest him for a civil crime. Mr. Franklin lost and the next year the NAACP decided to make these types of cases a high priority.
- 1913: The NAACP protests President Woodrow Wilson's decision to segregate the government at the federal level.
- 1915: Birth of a Nation, a white supremacist movie depicting the Ku Klux Klan as the heroes of the American Civil War, is released and the NAACP protests it as being inflammatory and bigoted.
- 1917: The NAACP wins the fight to commission African-Americans as officers during World War One.
- 1917: Buchanan v. Warley is decided by the Supreme Court of the United States and determined that states are not allowed to separate blacks into separate neighborhoods.
- 1918: The NAACP convinces Woodrow Wilson to come out publicly against lynching.
- 1920: The NAACP holds its conference in Atlanta as a statement of confidence to the Klan who was very active in Georgia.
- 1922: The NAACP is one of the first interest groups to buy major advertising on behalf of a cause. It runs several newspaper ads against lynching.
- 1930: The NAACP protests nominee to the Supreme Court John Parker for his discriminatory views.
- 1935: The University of Maryland is forced to allow black students to attend. The attorneys charged with representing the black student were also African-American.
- 1939: African-American soprano, Marian Anderson, was not allowed to play at the Constitution Hall of the Daughters of the Revolution. The NAACP held her concert an the Lincoln Memorial instead and in attendance were over 75,000 individuals.
- 1941: The NAACP fights to ensure equality for African-Americans during World War II. This leads President Franklin Roosevelt to declare a non-discrimination policy in both the federal government and industries related to the war.
- 1945: Congress refuses to support the Federal Fair Roosevelt Employment Practices Commission which causes the NAACP to lead a protest.
- 1945: Kerr v. Enoch Pratt Free Library -- created the Kerr Principle which ensured that the state is held accountable for allowing exclusive treatment. The library had denied entrance to Louise Kerr because the patrons did not like that she was black. The courts determined that they could not violate her equal protection of the law.
- 1946: Morgan v. Virginia -- ends segregation in interstate travel by bus or train.
- 1948: President Truman is pressured by the NAACP into signing an Executive Order to ban any discrimination within the Federal government.
- 1951: Civil rights worker Harry T. Moore is killed in a bombing along with his wife.
- 1954: Brown v. Board of Education -- segregation in public schools is ended.
- 1955: Rosa Parks, a member of the NAACP, famously refuses to give up her seat on the bus for a white person. This sparks a bus boycott and one of the biggest grass roots civil rights movements in history. The NAACP joins with other black organizations to head the movement.
- 1960: The Youth Council of the NAACP lead non violent protests in North Carolina eventually forcing the desegregation of many of the businesses in the area.
- 1963: The NAACP starts pressuring for the passage of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act.
- 1963: Medgar Evers, civil rights leader and NAACP's first field director is killed in front of his house. The assassination of John F. Kennedy occurred just 5 months later.
- 1964: The Civil Rights Act is passed.
- 1965: The Voting Rights Act is passed. The NAACP works to register and facilitate voting for thousands.
- 1979: NAACP leads legislation to allow voter registration to take place in public schools.
- 1981: The Voting Rights Act is again championed by the NAACP who fights to have it extended for 25 years.
- 1981: The Fair Share Program is established to partner with NAACP and businesses nationwide enabling opportunity for people of color.
- 1985: New York is the home of an enormous rally against apartheid put on by the NAACP.
- 1987: Judge Robert Bork is a nominee for the Supreme Court and the NAACP begins to protest him on the basis that he had often been an obstacle to the goals of black Americans in their quest to utilize the rights established in the constitution.
- 1989: The NAACP works to assist with a silent March including over 100,000 individuals protest the decisions made by the Supreme Court that had taken away rights previously won to end discrimination.
- 1991: David Duke, former Ku Klux Klan leader, runs for Louisiana US Senate seat and the NAACP rails against him. They are able to register 76% of black voters and get them to turn out against Duke who is defeated.
- 1995: The Economic Reciprocity Program is launched by the NAACP as well as the "Stop the Violence, Start the Love Campaign" to work first against inequalities in the work place and second to end violence among youths in their communities.
- 2000: In response to protests against the lack of black actors in leading roles, the NAACP leads the TV Diversity Agreements. The nation sees the largest black voter participation since the 80s.
- 2000: The biggest demonstration for civil rights in the South is held in South Carolina. The Great March is held to protest the Confederate Flag being flown.
- 2005: NAACP honors Barack Obama with a NAACP Image Award -- Chairman's Award.
In order to understand the need for a civil rights organization like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, one must understand the complicated and lengthy battle African-Americans endured in America. The history of race relations in the United States is long and filled with suffering, violence and inequality. The civil rights movement was a long time coming and Massachusetts was the first state, in 1783 to outlaw slavery. It took another quarter of a century for the country to outlaw bringing any more slaves into the United States. Over a decade later in 1820, the Missouri Compromise is reached where it was decided that there would be 12 free and 12 slave states. Another decade passed and in 1831 Nat Turner led a slave rebellion.
Nat Turner was born on October 2, 1800 and when he was a young boy, people say that he told of things that happened before he came into the world. This eerie fact combined with his maturity and intelligence caused others in his society to look upon him as a chosen one of sorts. As he got older, he became more religious and drew a lot of attention for his mystery and devotion that he demonstrated through prayer, fasting and study. As a slave, in 1821 Turner left his master and then returned one month later stating that a spirit had advised him to go back. His master died one year later and he was sold to a man named Thomas Moore. In three years, Nat had another vision of a sky filled with lights which he contemplated in prayer. Then when he was working in the field, he saw blood droplets on the corn that he said looked like the other forms he had seen in the sky. In four years time, Turner had another vision – his third. He said that he heard a noise in the sky and then the spirit came to him to say that he was here to fight against evil. He was to hide his goal from everyone and wait for a sign at which point he should rise up against the enemy.
At the start of 1830, Turner was sold to Joseph Travis who was married to the widow of Thomas Moore. Although his master was kind to him, in 1831 after an eclipse of the sun, Turner felt his call to duty. He gathered a small group of helpers and they began to plan an attack. In August of that year, there was a phenomenon of nature which caused the sun to look blue green and Nat saw this as the last sign. A week later he and his friends met in the forest and finalized their plan. At 2 a.m., they went to the house and killed the Travis family in their sleep and then went from house to house killing all white people they saw. More than 40 slaves ended up joining the vigilante mob. By the middle of the next day, they headed toward the town of Jerusalem but a white militia had gathered and dispersed the mob. When all was said and done the slaves had beaten, stabbed and shot over 50 white people. A few months later, Turner was captured and upon being tried he was sentenced to die by being hanged and then skinned two weeks later on November 11. The state then acquitted a few people and executed 55, but after the uprising over 200 black people were killed by white people although most of them had nothing to do with Turner and his men. Many slaves that were states away from the incident were tried and convicted of being connected to the uprising and were also executed.
Twenty years later, California was allowed in the union. Washington, D.C. ended slavery and the Fugitive Slave Laws were strengthened in 1850. Then, in 1857, the Dred Scott v. Sanford case is decided by the Supreme Court of the United States wherein slaves were not considered free even when they made it to a free state, could not be prevented in new territories and prevented the African-Americans from becoming Citizens. It was a huge step back. The U. S. Civil War then began in 1861 when the South seceded becoming the Confederate States of America.
Two years later in 1863, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which freed all slaves in all states; however, the Civil War didn’t end for two more years. In 1865 with it finally over, the abolition of slavery was accomplished with the ratification of 13th Amendment. The 14th Amendment was ratified 5 years later in 1868 which provided equal protection for all persons under the law. In another two years time, the 15th Amendment was ratified which allowed blacks to vote. Twenty six years later in 1896 the Civil Rights movement took a hit when the Supreme Court allowed the implementation of the separate but equal doctrine. From this point on, African-Americans started to get organized and work together to change things. It was in 1909 that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored people was formed.
W.E.B. Du Buois was instrumental in the creation of the NAACP. William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (February 23, 1868 - August 27, 1963) held many posts during his life. He was a scholar, writer, historian, leader, poet, sociologist, Pan-Africanist, editor, and American civil rights activist. He graduated first in his class in his high school and attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee where he also spent summers teaching in black schools in the country. He received another degree from Harvard after completing his bachelor of arts at Fisk. He gave a speech at his commencement as an arts cum laude graduate. He travelled and studied in Germany for a master’s degree and then taught classes in Latin and Greek in Ohio at Wilberforce University.
W.E.B. Du Bois received his master of arts and then his doctorate in history at Harvard. He wrote a very influential dissertation that was published as No. 1 in the Harvard Historical Series on the Suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America, 1638-1870. Five years later he met his wife Nina Gomer and they became parents to two children. That same year, he took a teaching position in the sociology department at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania. He was one of the first to study urban communities which he titled The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study (1899).
Du Bois's main aspiration was to assist in the crusade to procure equal rights and treatment of African-American people as a minority in the United States. He worked with his study, political involvement, research, and writings to accomplish his goals. One way in which he was most effective was with his creation of the Niagara movement. This consisted of a group of professionals and academics that acted as a protest group for African-Americans. He created two publications, the Horizon and the Moon which he used to reach his members and share information with the public at large. This group was the foundation for the NAACP.
Using his idea as a template, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded February 12, 1909 on the heels of the Springfield Race Riot of 1908. The riot was predicated on an incident that took place in August of that year. Two black men had been arrested as they had been accused of committing violent crimes against whites in Springfield, Illinois. Because of media coverage detailing their location, a mob gathered demanding they be allowed to punish the men. A local business man named Harry Loper secretly drove the criminals to Bloomington's prison to protect them. Bloomington is also located in Illinois and is approximately 67 miles north east of Springfield. When the mob found out, they started a riot and destroyed property of many local African-Americans in Springfield killing at least six people. While there were 107 indictments, only one man was convicted of any crime -- stealing a sword from a member of the military. The murderers of the local blacks were not prosecuted.
Shortly after this event, a group formed that included liberal whites that had been descended from abolitionists. They sent out a call to action and gathered approximately 60 people (7 African-Americans) to discuss the racial issues of the time and the inequality in the justice system.
Early members of the NAACP included: Mary White Ovington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Charles Edward Russell, Jane Addams, Oswald Garrison Villard, George Henry White, Josephine Ruffin, Fanny Garrison Villard, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Joel and Arthur Spingarn, John Haynes Holmes, Lillian Weld, Mary Church Terrell, Mary Mcleod Bethune, Mary Talbert, Lincoln Steffens, Inez Milholland, Ray Stannard Baker, Florence Kelley, Charles Darrow, Sophonisba Breckinridge, William Dean Howells, and John Dewey. There are now over 500,000 members in the world. It is America's oldest and most well known civil rights group.
Listed below are events critical to the importance, development and struggles of those involved with the NAACP.
One of the earliest battles of the NAACP went on for 30 years and was a top priority - lynching. They took the position that the Dryer Bill, which was federal, should be signed into law as it would finally provide justice and punish those that didn't prosecute the lynch mobs or were a part of one. Although the bill was never passed, the dialogue spurred on by the report created by the NAACP (Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889-1919) was credited with greatly lowering lynching. In 2005 the government finally apologized for the lynching tragedy noting that there had been 4,700 victims since 1882. On three different occasions, the Senate failed to pass anti lynching bills even with the persistence of the NAACP. While the apology was offered, it was not unanimous proving that even though time had passed the goals of the NAACP were still in need of attainment.
Harry T. Moore
There have been many casualties in the battle for civil rights and NAACP member Harry T. Moore was a significant loss to the cause. Mr. Moore started a chapter of the NAACP in Florida's Brevard County. He fought hard for equal rights and entered the public discourse on police brutality and lynchings. As he became more well known by registering record numbers of black voters, he and his wife Harriet were both fired from their teaching jobs and became blacklisted from teaching. Because of this, he took a paid position with the NAACP. In an instance similar to the Springfield riot, a rape case in Groveland caused a riot. Four adolescent African-American men were accused of raping a white woman. While detained, they were severely beaten. The defendants were initially convicted, but the Supreme Court overturned the case. Prior to their new trial, the sheriff was transporting them to a pre trial hearing and shot both men claiming that they tried to escape and attacked them. One of the men survived and stated that the sheriff had just pulled them out of the car and began shooting. Harry T. Moore protested and asked that Sheriff McCall be indicted for murder and taken off the job. Six weeks later Harry T. Moore and his wife Harriet were killed by a bomb in their home while sleeping. The NAACP supported many rallies and memorials nationwide protesting the murders of the Moores. The Ku Klux Klan was implicated in the bombing.
Medgar Evers was another significant figure in the NAACP who met a tragic end. Even though he had fought as a soldier in the Battle of Normandy, he faced discrimination at every turn as a black man in the United States. Evers started as a member of the Regional Council of Negro Leadership and learned activism and community organizing here. He applied to law school at the University Of Mississippi Law School and was rejected as it was a segregated school. The NAACP campaigned to desegregate and then the Supreme Court of the United States found segregation unconstitutional in the momentous Brown v. the Board of Education ruling. Evers then became Mississippi's first NAACP field organizer.
When a young, black boy from Chicago named Emmet Till was murdered in Mississippi for whistling at a white woman and local officials tried to cover up the crime, Evers involved him. He and others from the NAACP dressed as cotton pickers to work undercover and find details of the crime. Their work led to the discovery of the mutilated body of the boy. Shortly after this work, people began making attempts on his life. First someone threw a flaming Molotov cocktail at his garage. Then someone tried to run him over with a vehicle in front of the NAACP office. Finally, as Evers was arriving from an NAACP meeting carrying shirts with logos "Jim Crow Must Go", someone shot him in the back. This murder took place very shortly after JFK's speech supporting civil rights had aired nationally. Again, a Ku Klux Klan member was charged with his murder, but was not convicted originally. In 1994, Byron De La Beckwith was retried and convicted of the crime.
On September 23, 1957 nine African-American children were the first to attend the all white Central High School in Little Rock Arkansas. They had been driven away by the military, police officers and white protesters weeks earlier. The mob threw rocks at them, hit them and threatened to kill them. Even with this experience weighing heavy on their minds, the group tried again.
The NAACP felt that the Civil Rights Movement would only be successful if education was equal. It would mean that blacks could have better job opportunities and gain power. However, the desegregation of schools in the south was dangerous. The Little Rock students were the first and they had to sneak in the building through a side door. They were led into register for classes, but when the mob outside discovered they had entered the building the violence started again forcing the black students to flee.
The very next day President Eisenhower sent the United States Army to protect them and the attended school. The entire year was fraught with physical violence and cruel teasing. Their lives as well as their families and their communities were threatened. That following year, Ernest Green, one of the nine became the first black student to graduate under desegregation. The NAACP held a conference in 2007 titled “Little Rock 1957: Honoring the Legacy, Facing the Challenge”. This conference invited members of the academic community and the civil rights advocates from every part of the United States. Topics of discussion were ways to help black males succeed, to involve the community in education, and to reverse the drop out rate for minority groups.
One major success of the conference was Little Rock Central High School’s presentation of a commemorative coin to the Little Rock Nine that paid tribute to the historical adversity they had faced. The Nine spoke to a group of residents of the community of Little Rock about their lives and their thoughts on cultural differences and progress made in the struggle for equal rights. After the presentation, the NAACP extended honorary lifetime membership to the Little Rock Nine.
Current objectives and activities
According to its own website,http://www.naacp.org/about/mission/index.htm, "the vision of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to promote an end to racial hatred and discrimination in our society where all citizens are to be treated equally under the law. The objectives listed by the organization are:
To ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of all citizens.
To achieve equality of rights and eliminate race prejudice among the citizens of the United States
To remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes
To seek enactment and enforcement of federal, state and local laws securing civil rights
To inform the public of the adverse effects of racial discrimination and to seek its eliminationTo educate persons as to their constitutional rights and to take all lawful action to secure the exercise thereof, and to take any other lawful action in the furtherance of these objectives, consistent with the NAACP's Articles of Incorporation and this Constitution
African-Americans in the Media
One of the objectives of the NAACP is to ensure positive portrayals of African-Americans in the media. In the late 1800s, stereotypes of black people were prevalent in films. Blackface was one of many offensive examples that were all the rage when the NAACP was created in 1909. The movie Birth of a Nation caused a great controversy as it was extremely racist and portrayed the fleeing of the slaves as the cause for the destruction of the way of life in the South. The repercussions of this film were that blacks were mistreated in towns where the movie played. The positive ramification was that the NAACP received recognition for speaking out as the issue was so widely known.
In the 1940s, the NAACP's Executive Secretary Walter White pressed hard on Hollywood to stop creating and encouraging these stereotypical roles for African-Americans. He made headway and was deemed controversial because black actors of the day were vocally opposed to his strategy. Hattie McDaniel, who was an Oscar winner, was attributed with stating that she would prefer to portray a maid in a film, than to actually be one.
The 1950s saw the advent of television and with this came more of the same stereotypes as had been seen on film and heard on the radio. While the NAACP was unsuccessful in attempts to stop offensive shows like Amos N' Andy, it pressed on toward equality in the media.
The statistics they have from as recently as 2007 show that there are still major hurdles in equality in the images in the media. While things have improved since 1999 where the NAACP called out the fact that there were no people of color in a leading role for the entire season, in fact, since 2002 the number of African-Americans and other minorities on primetime shows has been dropping. In order to combat this, the organization will continue monitoring the situation and bringing this type of information to the country's attention. While they have threatened a boycott, the NAACP prefers to negotiate and educate without denying the possibility of impending marches.
NAACP Economic Reciprocity Initiative (ERI)
The NAACP has been tracking diversity within major companies in five different industries for over a decade with the ERI that was started in 1996. The 2008 report found the African-American community had progressed toward reaching its economic goals. This guide is also filled with tools to help empower African-Americans to make educated decisions about what to buy and which service companies to utilize.
African-Americans create $700 billion in spending every year and more than 40 companies volunteered for the study for 2008 showing that the value of this survey is great as a means for finding good strategies for diversity. This survey allows them to use their spending as power and only put their money into companies that are sensitive and reactive to their issues and concerns.
The ERI also makes sure to shine a spotlight on hotels, phone service providers, retail establishments, banks and car manufacturers that have made strides with their diversity programs. The measurables in the study are diversity in employment, the diversity in their suppliers and outside vendors, charitable work and donations, media and marketing, and one area that is industry specific.
The last study gave a C to the lodging industry which showed no progress from the previous year’s score. While this industry contributes the most philanthropic donations, there are very few of these businesses owned by minorities. The telecommunications industry was a little more responsive and received a B- for their efforts. Financial services industry was given a B and saw improvement in supplier diversity, marketing/communications, and employment in 2008. The retail industry was credited with a C although they did make progress with reinvesting in the community. The automotive industry also earned a C. While supplier diversity increased, the other areas saw negligible improvement.
Disparities in African-American Sentencing and Death Penalty Application
Blacks in America are executed more often than any other ethnic or racial group, they are sentenced to life more often as well and they are given the strongest sentences for drug crimes. In thirteen states, over 60% of the people serving life sentences are African-American. In New York, over 83% are nonwhite. A few years ago, in 2005, the data showed that crack users were 66% Hispanic or white. Yet nearly 82% of those facing charges for crack were African-American. The penalties are also very unequal. White people get approximately 61 months for a violent crime; African-Americans receive approximately 59 months for a drug crime. Crack is considered a minority drug and is the only one that has mandatory prison time attached to a first time possession charge. Comparatively, cocaine and heroin carry only one year terms as opposed to five for the same amount. African-Americans make up only 13% of the population as a whole and yet they account for 35% of all executions.
The NAACP would like to eliminate racial profiling, unfair and inequitable sentences and trials, preventing recidivism, and ending the death penalty. They are monitoring and identifying those systems in which race or ethnicity are used by the police because although blacks do only make up 13% of the population nearly 30% of arrests are of African-Americans. After they are arrested, they are then sent to jail at 300% the rate of whites. Because of this, the NAACP advocates equality in the legal process and especially looks to protect juveniles from unfair practices. The death penalty has been so unfairly applied that the NAACP hopes to have all of the states put a moratorium on the death penalty until it can be proven to be applied equally.
African-Americans and Voting
The NAACP is very involved in encouraging civic engagement in the African-American community. The 2008 election of Barack Obama showed the proof of the impact African-American’s can have on the outcome of an election. There were approximately 131 million voters which was the highest in US history. 2008 saw 5 million more voters than the 2004 election had seen. This included 2 million more Hispanic voters, 600,000 more voters of Asian descent and 2 million more African-American voters. Young black Americans voted 8% higher than they had in 2004 at 55% which was the highest voter turnout in the 18 to 24 age group.
National Prison Project
The NAACP has a branch dedicated to a National Prison Project. With this project it intends to work with national, state and local agencies to assist those released from prison after serving their sentences with acclimating to being free. The goal is to lower the committal of other crimes, reduce racial inequalities in the justice system, and help with voter registration, and assist those in the system that need help.
The Board of Directors is empowered with the ability to set all policies both administrative and other that involve the governance of the NAACP's affairs. They are also in charge of the designation or election of the officers and filling any vacancies that should arise in both offices and in the actual Board itself should someone vacate prior to the expiration of this or her term. The Board is also charged with the investments and handling the property.
After the Board of Directors comes the National Office, and then the Regional office. The state office and Units are then the bottom level of the chain of command. The Units are very important as they are on the ground and represent the NAACP on the front line.
Officers of the NAACP
Chairmen – NAACP Board
- 1909: William English Walling
- 1910 – 1911: William English Walling
- 1911 – 6/1912: Oswald Garrison Villard
- 1912 – 1/1914: Oswald Garrison Villard
- 1914 – 1919: Joel E. Spingarn
- 1919 – 1934: Mary White Ovington
- 1934 – 1953: Dr. Louis T. Wright
- 1953 – 1960: Dr. Channing H. Tobias
- 1960 – 1961: Dr. Robert C. Weaver
- 1961 – 1975: Bishop Stephen Gill Spottswood
- 1975 – 1983: Margaret Bush Wilson
- 1983 – 1985: Kelly M. Alexander Sr.
- 1985 – 1995: Dr. William F. Gibson
- 1995 – 1998: Mrs. Myrlie Evers Williams
- 1998 – Present: Julian Bond
NAACP National Presidents
In 1996, the NAACP Board of Directors established the title President/CEO to replace the existing staff title Executive Director / CEO. At the same time, the elected office of President was eliminated.
The elected National Presidents are as follows:
- 1910 – 1929: Moorfield Storey
- 1930 – 1939: Joel E. Spingarn
- 1939 – 1966: Arthur B. Spingarn
- 1966 – 1975: Kivie Kaplan
- 1976 – 1983: Dr. W. Montague Cobb
- 1983 – 1984: James Kemp
- 1984 – 1989: Enolia McMillian
- 1990 – 1992: Hazel N. Dukes
- 1992 – 1996: Mrs. Rupert Richardson
- February 1910 – March 1911: Francis Blascoer
- April 1911 – June 1912: Mary White Ovington
- June 1912 – January 1916: Mary Childs Nerney
- January 1916 – February 1916: Mary White Ovington (acting)
- February 1916 – September 1917: Royall Freeman Nash
- May 1917 – January 1918: James Weldon Johnson (acting)
- January 1918 – May 1920: John R. Shillady
- September 1920 – January 1931: James Weldon Johnson
- January 1931 – April 1955: Walter White
- April 1955 – August 1977: Roy Wilkins
In 1977, the title of Executive Secretary became Executive Director
- August 1977 – May 1993: Benjamin L. Hooks
- May 1993 – August 1994: Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
- September 1994 – January 1996: Earl Shinhoster (acting)
- February 1996 – December 31 2004: Kweisi Mfume
- January 2005 – August 1 2005: Dennis Hayes
- August 1 2005 – February 2007: Bruce Gordon
- February 2007 – September 14 2008: Dennis Hayes
- September 15 2008 – Present: Benjamin T. Jealous
The NAACP is the largest and oldest civil rights interest group in the United States. It has found success working with all varieties of people to work toward the goal of ridding our the world of racial prejudice and discrimination. Right after the group was formed in 1909 they won a series of cases regarding discriminatory voting practices in the state of Oklahoma and the organization became known as a legal advocate. In fact litigation has historically proven to be main avenue utilized by the NAACP.
It started with Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, 13 years prior to the inception of the Association, which is the most important of foundation these legal fights. Charles Hamilton Houston and his protégé Thurgood Marshall worked for the NAACP to end segregation. They chose to argue that black schools would have to be exactly the same as white schools. Houston's theory was that states wouldn’t be able to afford to do this and that would eventually be the downfall of Plessy. When he would argue a case with this strategy, it would end with the school desegregating due to failing to be equal.
Later, Marshall succeeded Houston and defeated white primaries which kept blacks from voting in several states in the south. He also forced the desegregation of interstate busses and trains. In 1948, he worked with other lawyers to force the end of preventing African-Americans from living in white neighborhoods. Then, in 1954, Marshall and the other attorneys from the NAACP won Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas desegregating public schools in the United States.
After this decision, the NAACP was instrumental in spearheading the civil rights movement. They facilitated marches and demonstrations as well as lending support to important legislation. In 1964 the Civil Rights Act was passed followed by the Voting Rights Act in 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The NAACP ensured that the provisions of this legislation was adhered to and used their legal voracity to fight any injustice. Currently, the legal team of the NAACP works diligently to fight racism and discrimination. Their priorities include criminal law, environmental justice, voting rights, education, employment and housing.
One of the major achievements of the NAACP is the creation of The Crisis which is a magazine for civil rights. It is one of the oldest journals in the United States. It's goal is to be a respected periodical filled with opinion, high level thinking and analysis. This is a bi monthly publication focused on discussing matters of interest for the country, the world, people of color and all types of cultural achievements.
In 1971, the NAACP put pressure on the casinos in Las Vegas regarding their failure to hire African-Americans as dealers. Hotels and casinos were only hiring minorities in low paying, low skilled jobs. The NAACP pressured 18 casinos into signing the Casino Consent Decree in that year which would end discrimination. The casinos agreed to hire African-Americans into the highly paid positions as dealers. Unfortunately, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was never funded to be able to enforce the agreement. It is still standing, but unfunded.
- NAACP, Our Mission