Multiracial national organization whose strategic purpose is to defend equality under the law and promote, using legal means, the material advancement of African Americans and other people of color.
At the turn of the twentieth century, the lynching of African Americans, their inability to vote, the poverty of northern urban black people, and the negative effects of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which created the separate but equal doctrine, consolidated the national civil rights movement. The fierce debate between black conservatives and radicals on how best to fight for equality before the law and promote the material advancement of African Americans increased in its urgency.
In this 1956 photo, four of the NAACP’s leaders–from left to right, Henry L. Moon, Roy Wilkins, Herbert Hill, and Thurgood Marshall–hold a membership poster for the organization.
A national multiracial coalition of leading African Americans and prominent white leaders led to the creation of the NAACP in 1910. The NAACP’s purpose was to use all legal means to judicially reverse the laws and regulations that resulted in deteriorating political, economic, and social conditions for African Americans above and below the Mason-Dixon line. W. E. B. Du Bois, a leader of black radicals, believed that seeking legal remedies through the NAACP was the best means to address these strategic problems. Booker T. Washington, a leader of black conservatives, disagreed with the general philosophy of the NAACP and refused to join it, preferring an accommodationist approach. Nonetheless, the NAACP became the leading national civil rights organization and brought before the Supreme Court many issues of strategic concern to African Americans.
In Buchanan v. Warley
One of the most important cases that the NAACP argued in the 1950’s was Brown v. Board of Education
The passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 led to its challenge in South Carolina v. Katzenbach
In the late 1960’s and well into the 1990’s, the Court moved away from its support of minority issues. During this period, NAACP litigation before the Court under Chief Justices Warren E. Burger and William H. Rehnquist resulted in more losses than wins. The dominance of conservative judicial doctrine in the Rehnquist Court presented major challenges for the NAACP.
Howard, John H. The Shifting Wind: The Supreme Court and Civil Rights from Reconstruction. New York: State University of New York Press, 1999. Lawson, Stephen F. Running for Freedom: Civil Rights and Black Politics in America Since 1941. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1997. Levy, Peter B. The Civil Rights Movement. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1998. Ross, Joyce. J. E. Spingarn and the Rise of the NAACP. New York: Atheneum, 1972. Spann, Girardeau A. Race Against the Court: The Supreme Court and Minorities in Contemporary America. New York: New York University Press, 1993.
Brown v. Board of Education
Civil Rights movement
Legal Defense Fund, NAACP
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Alabama
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Button
Race and discrimination
School integration and busing
Vote, right to