In response to the 1908 Springfield riot, W.E.B. Du Bois, Mary White Ovington, Ida B. Wells, Henry Moskowitz and William English Walling, a multi-racial and multi-religious group of social and political activists, founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
On July 1, 1917, two white policemen were killed in East St. Louis, Ill. The incident sparked a race riot on July 2, which ended with 48 killed, hundreds injured, and thousands of blacks fleeing the city when their homes were burned. On July 28, the NAACP protested with a silent march of 10,000 black men, women, and children down New York’s Fifth Avenue.
The most savage and brutal example of white supremacy was a lynch mob. In 1919 the NAACP published a landmark report, “Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States: 1889-1918.” The report was the foundation used to end this brutal form of political and economic terrorism.
NAACP Litigation Director Charles Hamilton Houston and its Legal Counsel, Thurgood Marshall, fought 26 cases before the Supreme Court, none more important than Brown v. Board of Education. Brown v. Board is one of the major legal landmarks guaranteeing the right to equality in American society. Education is the key to full citizenship.
The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 during President Johnson’s administration were milestone achievements, and the NAACP’s role in these victories cannot be minimized.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 provided direct federal enforcement to remove literacy tests and other devices that had been used to disenfranchise African Americans.
On Aug. 26, 1989, the NAACP sponsored a symbolic silent march in Washington, D.C., to protest recent adverse Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action and minorities set-asides. The march was modeled on the historic 1917 New York City silent march protesting the East St. Louis Riot against unfair voting practices. Accordingly, the more than 100,000 participants dressed in black and white, marched behind a row of drummers from a rally on the National Mall to the U.S. Capitol.
After the 2000 presidential election, the NAACP received numerous complaints about voter irregularities in Florida. On Jan. 10, 2001, the NAACP joined other organizations to file a class action lawsuit on behalf of thousands of voters against Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, Director of the Florida Division of Elections Clay Roberts, and Georgia Corporation Database Technologies for unfair voting practices.