The history of the United States has borne testimony to unprovoked racial discrimination and race-attributed violence, brutality and destruction to property meted out to colored people.
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This has necessitated concerned citizens, including whites, to seek action to avoid such practices in future, and organize, fortify and empower minority groups interests, through due process of law and the assistance of white liberals, to free themselves from atrocities being committed on them, due to their abject poverty, social circumstances and inequalities.
It has also been necessary to sustain efforts that could bring social order that could eliminate the social barriers and obstacles to development of backward communities in the country, through organized group efforts and mass movements, decrying violence and seeking punishment to people who indulge in unprovoked acts of crimes, especially against members of minority non-white communities and economically weaker sections of American society
Background of the NAACP
The oldest surviving grass roots-based American civil rights organization celebrates its 100th centennial this year. Established on February 2, 1909, in protest under lynching, use of racial violence against minorities, and to protect civil rights of non-whites against criminal acts by white masters and finally establish, interalia, constitutionally evoked laws against scourge of slavery, enforce equal protection laws, institute global male voting rights and equal employment rights in public and private sectors. (NAACP Centennial Celebration/02.12.09/ Nationwide).
From its humble roots 100 years ago, the NAACP now has nearly half a million members and supporters globally who are major change agents who are committed to the protection of civil rights of non-white Americans. (NAACP Centennial Celebration/02.12.09/ Nationwide).
Mission Statement of NAACP
“The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.” (Our mission).
Basis of special interest group (SIG)
The genesis of the NAACP could rightly be attributed to the hatred and color discrimination most whites during that time bore to the non-white citizens. Negroes were often accused of crimes they never committed and lynched by violent, impassioned mobs, often at the instigation of white people. Their homes and workplaces were burnt down and they were shot down ruthlessly by mobs on rampage. All these finally culminated to a major 1908 Springfield race riot, (paradoxically the town where Abraham Lincoln lived), in which 7 people were killed and property worth $200,000 destroyed. (Conclusion).
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AA community assert themselves
On the subject of the Springfield race riot the insecure non-white population realized that the time had come to organize themselves under strong leadership, to assert their civil rights and punish perpetrators of mob violence and arson.
Under the able stewardship of NAACP founder chairman and president Joel Spingam, who led the organization from 1929- 1939, the year of his death, the organization grew from strength to strength and later on his brother, Arthur continued the good work for the development of the organization.
“When Spingarn died in 1971, Associate Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall spoke at his funeral, opining, “If it had not been for Arthur Spingarn, we would not have an NAACP today.” (Jun 29, 1914- The Spingarn Medal was Established by the NAACP).
Contribution of NAACP to the African America movement
One of the major achievements of NAACP has been the passing of Voting Rights Act 1965 which empowered adult AA the right to vote, without seeking literacy tests, etc. Another aspect has been that, as sequel to this act, the proportion of registered black adult suffrage rose from mere existing 23% to 61% in 1969. (The Civil Rights Era). Besides this, NAACP has been able to win major legal battles in which the interests of members of the AA community needed to be protected. Another major success was the passing of laws banning school segregation following the verdict in the Brown v. Board of Education 347 U.S. 483 (1954)[ case which ruled that laws that promulgated separate schools for blacks and non-blacks resulted in lowered treatment for non-white school children. (Brown v. Board of Education).
Areas in which improvements are required
It is seen that the core focus of NAACP needs to be restructured from merely seeking the use of litigation procedures for securing political and civil rights. (Mack, Ernst, and Gordon).
This is a time consuming and expensive procedure which may not always work in the best interests of NAACP, or the values for which it has stood for in its eventful 100 year existence. Instead, it would have been more in the fitness of things if, instead of societal changes through litigation, it would be better if the focus was placed on organizing action plans at fundamental levels, seeking public belief on vexatious issues, and adopting ways and means by which the civil and economic rights of citizens in a free country could be preserved.
It is seen that NAACP has come a long way since its humble, low key and sedate beginning on February 12, 1908, in Illinois. From just a handful of AA and white impassioned supporters seeking civil and judicial justice, it has grown into one of the largest US civil rights movements, having more than half a million members and followers spanning several nations, worldwide.
There are plans afoot to change National headquarters from Baltimore to Washington, D.C. in order to serve the civil interests of African –Americans better.
In the years to come, the success and growth of NAACP would largely depend on how it is able to further AA interests in areas that not only underpin its final assimilation into American life, but also in terms of what value additive benefits is provided by the community to the political and economic fabric of the US.
Brown v. Board of Education. Nation Master. 2005. Web.
Conclusion. Think Quest. 2009. Web.
Jun 29, 1914- The Spingarn Medal was Established by the NAACP. Rhapsodyinbooks’s Weblog. 2009. Web.
Mack, Kenneth., Ernst, Daniel., and Gordon, Robert. New Scholarship in Race and Ethnicity: Rethinking the Origins of the Civil Rights Lawyer. Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: Events at the Center. 2009. Web.
NAACP Centennial Celebration/ Nationwide. The NAACP: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. 2009. Web.
Our mission. The NAACP: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. 2009. Web.
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The Civil Rights Era: Sit-ins, Freedom Rides, and Demonstrations: Greensboro Lunch Counter Sit- in. African American Odyssey. 2009. Web.