NCPA February 9, 2024

NAACPToday in 1909, the NAACP was founded in New York (fittingly, on Abraham Lincoln’s birthday) by early civil rights leaders including W.E.B. Du Bois, Mary Church Terrell, William English Walling, and others — eventually holding its first meeting in May of that year (pictured) and later incorporating in 1911. The organization’s first litigation efforts focused on disenfranchisement and Jim Crow statues, as well as Woodrow Wilson’s workplace segregation policies for federal offices. Within a few years of its founding, the NAACP had 50 branches and more than 6,000 members and fought segregation in state courts for the next three decades, influencing the decisions and fallout of several landmark cases. NAACP’s legal team was, by the 1950s, headed by future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, as well as the dean of the Howard University School of Law Charles Hamilton Houston, spearheading the reversal of the “separate but equal” doctrine in the aftermath of Plessy v. Ferguson, which was decided in 1896, the nadir of the Reconstruction Era. Today, the NAACP has expanded its platform beyond race and injustice to include education access, health equity, economic fairness, and climate justice, and is gearing up this election year to address voter suppression and mobilization. “We all declare for liberty,” to quote Lincoln in a speech he gave in Baltimore (now the NAACP’s headquarters), “but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing.”