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..”
GOALS OF THE NAACP
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.
HOW THE NAACP PURSUES ITS GOALS
The NAACP works along four main lines in pursuit of its goals;
- 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
- 4. It engages in selective buying campaigns, picketing
and direct action programs.
WHO DETERMINES NAACP POLICY?
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.
HOW IS THE WORK PERFORMED?
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.