The NAACP celebrates its 100th Anniversary.
No matter how we may believe that the NAACP is outdated. How it has failed to change with the times, the truth is that the NAACP has had a positive effect on all of our lives.
From the Niagara Movement, to its formation 100 years ago, the NAACP casts a long shadow on this country's history. Fighting for this country to live up to its creed. The list of those involved with the NAACP is like a Who's Who of Freedom Fighters.
In 1905, a group of 32 prominent, outspoken African Americans met to discuss the challenges facing "people of color" - a term that was used to describe people who were not white) - and possible strategies and solutions. Among the issues they were concerned about was the disfranchisement of blacks in the South starting in 1890 to 1908, when Southern legislatures ratified new constitutions creating barriers to voter registration and more complex election rules. Voter registration and turnout dropped markedly in the South as a result. Men who had been voting for 30 years were told they did not "qualify" to register.
Because hotels in the U.S. were segregated, the men convened under the leadership of Harvard scholar W. E. B. Du Bois at a hotel situated on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. As a result, the group came to be known as the Niagara Movement. A year later, three whites joined the group: journalist William E. Walling, social worker Mary White Ovington, and Jewish social worker Henry Moskowitz, then Associate Leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture.
The fledgling group struggled for a time with limited resources and decided to broaden its membership to increase its scope and effectiveness. Solicitations for support went out to more than 60 prominent Americans, and a meeting date was set for February 12, 1909. This was intended to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Abraham Lincoln, who emancipated enslaved African Americans. While the meeting did not take place until three months later, this date is often cited as the founding date of the organization.
The Race Riot of 1908 in Lincoln's hometown of Springfield, Illinois, the previous summer had highlighted the urgent need for an effective civil rights organization in the U.S. This event is often cited as the catalyst for the formation of the NAACP.
The NAACP was founded on February 12, 1909, by a diverse group composed of W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, Archibald Grimké, Henry Moskowitz, Mary White Ovington, Oswald Garrison Villard, and William English Walling (the last the son of a former slaveholding family).
On May 30, 1909, the Niagara Movement conference took place at New York City's Henry Street Settlement House, from which an organization of more than 40 individuals emerged, calling itself the National Negro Committee. Du Bois played a key role in organizing the event and presided over the proceedings. Also in attendance was African-American journalist and anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells-Barnett. At its second conference on May 30, 1910, members chose as the organization's name the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and elected its first officers, who were :
National President, Moorfield Storey, Boston
Chairman of the Executive Committee, William English Walling
Treasurer, John E. Milholland (a Lincoln Republican and Presbyterian from New York City and Lewis, NY)
Disbursing Treasurer, Oswald Garrison Villard
Executive Secretary, Frances Blascoer
Director of Publicity and Research, Dr. W.E.B. DuBois.
I don't think it's 'hateration' to point out that the NAACP has not kept up with the times. As an organization, it has too many people stuck in the past, and who have not been willing to listen to new ideas. When Bruce Gordon was fired, I have to admit that I felt deflated. I thought that Gordon was at least attempting to bring the NAACP into the 20th Century. I am not against Mr. Jealous, in fact I wish him all the luck in the world, and hope that he is successful. I'm just not that positive about it. Mainly because folks like Julian Bond don't know when to leave the stage. He, and that 64 member board are just ridiculous. How the heck does one have a 64 member Board of Directors for ANYTHING and believe that something will get done. I believe that somewhere along the way, the NAACP lost its focus on what's important for the Black community ' at the street level'.
So, what of the future? I think that belongs to US. At its core, the NAACP has always been as strong as its local branches. And, local branches means boots on the ground. People like you and me deciding to step up to the plate. Roland Martin always goes on a rant when people talk about how ineffective the NAACP. If you want it to be effective, he used to chide on his radio show, then get you and a 100 friends together, and decide to join your local branch. That's the shortest route to making the change that you want to see happen. To join, it only costs $30.00 for an adult, and $15.00 for youth.
The official NAACP website
The Washington Post asks about The Next Chapter of the NAACP.
The Root asks: Crisis on the Color Line:
After 100 years of 'pleading our own cause,' is the NAACP equal to the task ahead?
While Jack White says Yes, 'Colored People' Still Need Advancement
It may seem tired, but the NAACP is still relevant.