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Long Is the Way and Hard

One Hundred Years of the NAACP

Edited by Kevern Verney and Lee Sartain

Publication Year: 2009

Celebrating its one-hundredth anniversary in February 2009, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has been the leading and best-known African American civil rights organization in the United States. It has played a major, and at times decisive, role in most of the important developments in the twentieth century civil rights struggle. Drawing on original and previously unpublished scholarship from leading researchers in the United States, Britain, and Europe, this important collection of sixteen original essays offers new and invaluable insights into the work and achievements of the association. The first part of the book offers challenging reappraisals of two of the NAACP’s best-known national spokespersons, Walter White and Roy Wilkins. Other essays analyze the association’s cultural initiatives and the key role played by its public-relations campaigns in the mid 1950s to counter segregationist propaganda and win over the hearts and minds of American public opinion in the wake of the NAACP’s landmark legal victory in Brown v. Board of Education. Others provide thought-provoking accounts of the association’s complex and difficult relationship with Martin Luther King, the post–World War II Civil Rights movement, and Black Power radicals of the 1960s.

Published by: University of Arkansas Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xiv

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the oldest, largest, and most influential civil rights organization in the United States. For one hundred years, it has pursued a straightforward yet exceedingly difficult goal: to ensure that African Americans are...

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The NAACP in Historiographical Perspective

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pp. xv-xxviii

If the spirits of the 1909 founders of the NAACP were able to look down on the Association in its centenary year they would have found much to celebrate. From humble beginnings in the early 1900s, by the start of the twenty-first century the Association embraced a nation-wide network of...

I. The NAACP at the National Level

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1. “All Shadows Are Dark”: Walter White, Racial Identity, and National Politics

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pp. 3-14

WHEN WALTER WHITE died in 1955 after twenty-five years as executive secretary of the NAACP, commentators both within and outside the African American community reflected upon his career and speculated about his legacy. The Chicago Defender went so far as to say, “Fifty...

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2. In Harlem and Hollywood: The NAACP's Cultural Campaigns, 1910-1950

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pp. 15-27

A 1925 PRESS RELEASE for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People outlined the organization’s main activities for that year. They were listed under the following headings: “Segregation, Legal Defense, Lynching, Disenfranchisement, Discrimination, and [the]...

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3. “A Gigantic Battle to Win Men’s Minds”: The NAACP's Public Relations Department and Post-Brown Propadanda

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pp. 29-42

ON FEBRUARY 1, 1959, NBC-TV anchorman Chester “Chet” Huntley went on air to make a series of startling comments on the state of southern race relations. “The NAACP may have outlived itself,” he pronounced. Believing that “never in history has society been changed by...

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4. Leading from the Back: Roy Wilkins's Leadership of the NAACP

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pp. 43-58

A NUMBER OF RECENT works have begun to reassess the contribution of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to the civil rights movement in a more positive light than the impression left by its critics, particularly during the late 1960s, would suggest.1 ...

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5. Uneasy Alliance: The NAACP and Martin Luther King

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pp. 59-74

THE NAACP HAS never worked comfortably with charismatic figures. It feuded with Marcus Garvey in the Association’s early years, and in the 1940s, it was worried first about A. Philip Randolph’s all-black March on Washington Movement and then, about the impact of both Paul Robeson’s...

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6. The NAACP and the Challenges of 1960s Radicalism

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pp. 75-85

DURING THE SECOND half of the 1960s the national leadership of the NAACP had to contend with mounting opposition to the war in Vietnam and growing calls for “Black Power” from within the civil rights movement. Their response was to seek to distance the Association from those...

II. The NAACP at the State, City, and Local Levels

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7. The Falls Church Colored Citizens Protective League and the Establishment of Virginia’s First Rural Branch of the NAACP

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pp. 89-103

FALLS CHURCH IS located in Fairfax County, Virginia, a county recognized today as one of the wealthiest in the country. According to census reports for 2003, the median household income in the county was over $80,000.00, nearly double the national median income for that same year.1...

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8. “To Hope Till Hope Creates”: The NAACP in Alabama, 1913-1945

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pp. 105-120

ON THE EVE of the First World War Alabama hardly constituted the most fertile soil for the growth of the early NAACP. A Deep South location and a record of racial violence and discrimination that was matched by few other former Confederate states were formidable obstacles...

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9. “It’s Worth One Dollar to Get Rid of Us”: Middle-Class Persistence and the NAACP in Louisiana, 1915-1945

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pp. 121-134

THE NAACP HAS been primarily seen as a political and civil rights organization over the century of its existence and, indeed, it has had a remarkably consistent message of equality and integration. However, during the 1920s through to the war years the NAACP underwent an...

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10. “In No Event Shall a Negro Be Eligible”: The NAACP Takes on the Texas All-White Primary, 1923-1944

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pp. 135-153

SINCE THE TURN of the twentieth century, Texas blacks had been barred from voting in the Democratic primary by popular consensus, Democratic Party rules, and (from 1923 to 1927) state statutes. The Democratic Party was an organization for whites only. ...

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11. Tensions in the Relationship between Local and National NAACP Branches: The Example of Detroit, 1919-1941

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pp. 155-168

IN THE SUMMER of 1933, Walter White, then executive secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, paid a visit to Detroit, speaking at a meeting sponsored by a senior member of the local NAACP, Snow F. Grigsby.1 However, this speech was not given to a meeting of the NAACP. ...

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12. The Chicago NAACP: A Century of Challenge, Triumph, and Inertia

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pp. 169-183

ON THE EVE of the civil rights revolution of the 1960s, the Chicago branch of the NAACP had, by and large, successfully attempted and completed fifty-odd years of essential service to Chicago’s African American community and to the cause of civil rights.1 Recognition of this civic...

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13. The NAACP in California,1914–1950

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pp. 185-199

WITHIN FIVE YEARS of its founding, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had established branches in California. Over the next forty years, and beyond, these chapters provided an unbroken organizational response to discrimination and prejudice in the state. ...

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14. “Your Work Is the Most Important, but without Branches There Can Be No National Work”: Cleveland's Branch of the NAACP, 1929-1968

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pp. 201-218

OF THE ONE thousand or so branches that were affiliated with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1945, Cleveland’s might be construed as one of the more curious.1 Recognized as one of the Association’s largest by the postwar years, the branch was...

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15. “They Say . . . New York Is Not Worth a D——to Them”: The NAACP in Arkansas, 1918-1971

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pp. 219-234

IN 1949, THE fledgling NAACP Arkansas State Conference of branches (ASC), founded just four years earlier, was in crisis. NAACP regional secretary Donald Jones invited the president of the ASC, Pine Bluff attorney William Harold Flowers, to resign or face expulsion because of alleged financial improprieties.1 ...

A Chronology of the NAACP

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pp. 235-246


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pp. 247-297


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pp. 299-302


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pp. 303-313

E-ISBN-13: 9781610752466
E-ISBN-10: 1610752465
Print-ISBN-13: 9781557289094
Print-ISBN-10: 1557289093

Page Count: 330
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Civil rights movements -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • United States -- Race relations.
  • National Association for the Advancement of Colored People -- History -- 20th century.
  • African Americans -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • African Americans -- Civil rights -- History -- 20th century.
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