- Long Is the Way and Hard: One Hundred Years of the NAACP
In 2009 the National Association for the Advancement of Color People, the oldest and best-known civil rights organization in this country, celebrated its hundred-year anniversary. "The NAACP's activities and achievements have been so wide ranging that they defy a simple summary" (xi). As a result, many studies have been done on this organization. Yet a major gap in the historiography of the association has been the absence of a comprehensive history. Kevern Verney and Lee Sartain's Long Is the Way and Hard begins to close this gap. This collection of [End Page 206] sixteen essays offers new and invaluable insights into the working of this organization. This study allows the reader the opportunity to break free of the tendency to limit the NAACP to the standard narrative in which a small cadre of lawyers used the court to challenge Jim Crow statutes or "a small group of national officials who set the organization's official agenda" (xii).
The reader will find much that is useful and insightful in these essays. Divided into two parts, all provide information and perceptive arguments to consider and perspectives to confront when studying, researching, and writing about the NAACP. The essays in Part One "shed light on a variety of underexplored topics in the historiography of the NAACP" (xxv). For example, Jenny Woodley and George Lewis examine the cultural campaign of the late 1950, while Peter Lang looked at the strained relationship between Martin Luther King Jr. and the NAACP. Also found in Part I is a comparative analysis of the different ways branches operated and were funded in different regions of the country. One the other hand, Part Two seeks to remedy the gaps in the historiography. The authors of these essays deal with the conflict of class and gender within the organization, as well as how geography and migration impacted the association. Further, they show the connection and conflicts between the national and local branches, as was the case in Texas over the strategy to confront the White Democratic Primary. The local branch challenged the national branch before Smith v. Allwright was successfully argued before the Supreme Court.
This work is recommended for students interested in social, political, African American, and American history as well as the general public. One hopes that this work will serve as a catalyst for further scholarship on an organization that deserves serious and more comprehensive study.