In this Book
- NAACP Youth and the Fight for Black Freedom, 1936–1965
- Published by: The University of Tennessee Press
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modern-day ciivil rights movement because it will be the first on the youth
perspective in the NAACP. . . . I believe that will be widely used by scholars and
the general public.” —Linda Reed, author of Simple Decency and Common Sense: The
Southern Conference Movement, 1938–1963
Historical studies of black youth activism have until now focused almost exclusively on the activities of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). However, the NAACP youth councils and college chapters predate both of those organizations. They initiated grassroots organizing efforts and nonviolent direct-action tactics as early as the 1930s and, in doing so, made significant contributions to the struggle for racial equality in the United States.
This deeply researched book breaks new ground in an important and compelling area of study. Thomas Bynum carefully examines the activism of the NAACP youth and effectively refutes the perception of the NAACP as working strictly through the courts. His research illuminates the many direct-action activities undertaken by the young people of the NAACP — activities that helped precipitate the breakdown of racial discrimination and segregation in America. Beginning with the formal organization of the NAACP youth movement under Juanita Jackson, the author traces the group’s activities from their early anti-lynching demonstrations through their post–World War II “withholding patronage” campaigns to their participation in the sit-in protests of the 1960s. He also explores the evolution of the youth councils and college chapters, including their sometime rocky relationship with the national office, and shows how these groups actually provided a framework for the emergence of youth activism within CORE and SNCC.
The author provides a comprehensive account of the generational struggle for racial equality, capturing the successes, failures, and challenges the NAACP youth groups experienced at the national, state, and local levels. He firmly establishes the vital role they played in the history of the civil rights movement in the United States and in the burgeoning tradition of youth activism in the postwar decades.
Thomas Bynum is an assistant professor of history at Middle Tennessee State University.