February 12, 1909 – NAACP Founded

On this day in history, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in New York City “to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.”

The NAACP was formed partly in response to the continuing practice of lynching and the 1908 race riot in Springfield, the capital of Illinois and resting place of President Abraham Lincoln. A group of white liberals issued a call for a meeting to discuss racial justice. Some 60 people, seven of whom were African American (including W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Mary Church Terrell), signed the call, which was released on the centennial of Lincoln’s birth.

While the meeting itself did not take place until three months later, this date, of Lincoln’s birth, is cited as the founding date of the organization.

William Edward Burghardt “W.E.B.” Du Bois (Feb. 23, 1868 – Aug. 27, 1963)

William Edward Burghardt “W.E.B.” Du Bois (Feb. 23, 1868 – Aug. 27, 1963)

Echoing the focus of Du Bois’ Niagara Movement began in 1905, the NAACP’s stated goal was to secure for all people the rights guaranteed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution, which promised an end to slavery, the equal protection of the law, and universal adult male suffrage, respectively.

The NAACP named a board of directors as well as a president, Moorfield Storey, a white constitutional lawyer and former president of the American Bar Association. The only African American among the organization’s executives, Du Bois was made director of publications and research and in 1910 established the official journal of the NAACP, “The Crisis.”

Current objectives of the NAACP, as stated on its website, include:

• 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 elimination
• To 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 furtherance of these objectives, consistent with the NAACP’s Articles of Incorporation and this Constitution.

You can access an annotated guide to Congressional legislation related to the NAACP here.

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