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NAACP Youth and the Fight for Black Freedom, 1936–1965

Thomas Bynum

Publication Year: 2013

“This book is very important in the wider context of related scholarship in the
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.

Published by: The University of Tennessee Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-8


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pp. viii-9

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pp. ix-xii

While completing my doctorate in history at Georgia State University, I enrolled in a seminar on the civil rights movement taught by Dr. Jacqueline A. Rouse. In this class, she mentioned that someone should research the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) youth councils...

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pp. xiii-xxi

This book tells the story of the NAACP youth councils and college chapters’ fight for racial equality in the United States. Because civil rights historians have focused largely on the activism of young people within the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee...

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Chapter One. “Ours Is an Immediate Task”: Juanita Jackson and the Origins of the NAACP Youth Movement

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pp. 1-22

During the era of the Great Depression, American youth joined and formed an expanding array of organizations, tackling problems of widespread poverty and protesting racial bigotry at home and increasing militarism abroad. Propelled by the rise of fascist and racist tyranny in Italy, Germany, Japan,...

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Chapter Two. To “Keep Our Vision Unclouded”: War and Democracy

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pp. 23-44

A year before the United States entered the Second World War, the NAACP leader, Walter White, had envisioned a world free from racial bigotry and social injustice. In 1940, at the First Annual NAACP Student Conference, White remarked, “We must keep ourselves free from bitterness and hatred,...

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Chapter Three. To Finish the Fight:“ Freedom from Fear!”

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pp. 45-70

As youth gathered on November 21, 1946, at the eighth annual youth conference held at Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana, Judge Hubert Delany delivered his provocative keynote address, “Freedom from Fear.”1 Judge Delany challenged the youth to lay claim to its rights guaranteed under...


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pp. 71-78

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Chapter Four. “With All Deliberate Speed”: School Desegregation, Emmett Till, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott

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pp. 79-94

Two years had passed since the Supreme Court’s ruling outlawing segregation in public schools. At the beginning of 1956, public school desegregation had not taken place in schools throughout the South. In fact, because of noncompliance from southern states, a year after the ruling, NAACP attorneys went...

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Chapter Five. “More Than a Hamburger and a Cup of Coffee”: NAACP Youth and the 1960s Black Freedom Struggle

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pp. 95-117

February 1, 2010, marked the fiftieth anniversary of the 1960 sit-in movement. The sit-in movement was initiated when four students from North Carolina A&T State University staged a sit-in on February 1, 1960, at the Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. As a result of this demonstration...

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Chapter Six. “And If Not Now, When?” Securing Our Freedom

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pp. 119-146

In 1962, after Herbert Wright had resigned to accept a position with higher pay with a newly formed foundation, the NAACP Youth and College Division named its new director. He had served ten years as national youth director.1 Born in Cool Springs, Mississippi, in July 1934, Laplois Ashford was appointed...

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pp. 147-151

In Howell Raines’s My Soul Is Rested: The Story of the Civil Rights Movement in the Deep South, Ruby Hurley elaborates on her role as the NAACP southeast regional director and her involvement in the freedom movement. Looking back years later, Hurley bemoans that many young people did not fully...


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pp. 153-191


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pp. 193-208


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pp. 209-226

E-ISBN-13: 9781572339828
E-ISBN-10: 1572339829
Print-ISBN-13: 9781572339453
Print-ISBN-10: 1572339454

Page Count: 248
Illustrations: 12
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1

OCLC Number: 852899341
MUSE Marc Record: Download for NAACP Youth and the Fight for Black Freedom, 1936–1965