Thursday, February 12, 2009

The NAACP at 100

Today marks the NAACP's 100th birthday. One can reasonably ask what purpose the organization serves today, but there is little question that the NAACP has been the preeminent civil rights organization in American history. By the 1960s the NAACP had come to seem passe, even conservative, by a generation of activists weaned on direct-action protests, but without the work of the NAACP, and especially its Legal Defense Fund, the prospects for success in challenging Jim Crow would have been diminished, the process would have taken far longer.

Everyone knows about the successes of the NAACP in fighting segregated education, which culminated in Brown v. Board. But the organization fought discrimination in its myriad guises, in diverse realms such the political arena and on public transportation. It is quite possible to assert that without SNCC or CORE there still would have been an NAACP, but without the NAACP there may never have been a SNCC or a CORE.

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