NAACP History


In the summer of 1908, the country was shocked by the account of the race riots in Springfield, Illinois. A mob of the “best citizens” of Abraham Lincoln’s hometown had raged for two days, killed and wounded scores of Negroes, and driven thousands from the city. Articles of the subject appeared in newspapers and magazines. One such article which appeared in the Independent on September 3, 1908, written by Williams English Walling, entitled “Race War in the North” ended with the sentence, “Yet who realized the seriousness of the situation, and what large and powerful body of citizens is ready to cone to their aid?” Mary White Ovington answered that charge by meeting Walling and Dr. Henry Woskowitz during the first week of 1909.

It was in the little room of a New York apartment that the NAACP was born. The call was made to others to join the cause. The celebration of the centennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln was the date. “Hence we call upon all the believers in democracy to join in a national conference for the discussion of present evils, the voicing of protest, and the renewal of the struggle for civil and political liberty. “Dr. W.E.B. Dubois, Mary Church Terrell and Dr. J. Milton Waldron, Atlanta: Rev. Francis J. Grinke, Washington, D. C., was among those who signed the call.

It was at a second conference in New York in May, 1910, that a permanent body to be known as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was organized.

When Dr. W.E.B. Dubois was called to the conference he brought the conference closely in touch with an organization of colored people formed in 1905 at Niagara and known as the Niagara Movement. This organization had been involved in the work of legal redress along the lines of the NAACP. In 1910, it had conducted important civil rights cases and had in its membership some of the prominent colored lawyers in the country – among them W. Ashbie Hawkins, its treasurer.

The first issue of the Crisis, the official news organ of the NAACP, was published in November 1910. Its name was suggested Lowell’s poem “The Present Crisis.”

The NAACP was incorporated in the State of New York 1911. The principal objectives as stated in the Certificate of Incorporation are as follows”…voluntarily to promote equality of rights and eradicate cost and race prejudice among the citizens of the United States; to advance the interest of colored citizens; to secure for them impartial suffrage; and to increase their opportunities for securing justice in courts, education for their children, employment according to their ability and complete equality before the law.
“To ascertain and publish all facts bearing upon these subjects and to take any lawful action thereon: together with any and all things which may lawfully be done by a membership corporation organized under the laws of the State of New York..”

The Association seeks to end racial segregation and other forms of discrimination in all public aspects of American life. The objective includes equal justice under law: protection of the right to vote: personal security against mob violence and police brutality: the end of segregation in public education, in transportation, in housing, health and recreational facilities, in libraries and museums and in such places of public accommodation as hotels, theatres, restaurants and taverns.

The NAACP works along four main lines in pursuit of its goals;

  1. It uses the courts, state and federal, to secure justice and level barriers.
  2. It works for the enactment of National, State, and Local laws to protect rights and ban Racial Discrimination.
  3. It carries an Education Program in efforts to create a climate of opinion in favor of Equal Rights and Human Brotherhood.
  4. It engages in selective buying campaigns, picketing and direct action programs.

The basic policies of the Association are developed at its annual convention by delegates elected to represent local NAACP units. In the form of resolutions, policies are presented to the National Board of Directors for ratification. Approved, confirmed and endorsed which then becomes the policy position pertaining to specific issues.

The work of the NAACP is the responsibility of the volunteer officers heading the Branch organization and selected committees to implement programs in relationship to NAACP policies.

“The Call” to establish the NAACP was issued after a race riot in Springfield in 1908.
Please this brief video.

Springfield IL Branch History Images

How the NAACP Fights Racial Discrimination

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