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For this paper, I will dwell on the NAACP which is an organization that has historically championed for the rights of colored people in the U.S. Its most notable legal and resistance battles mostly had to do with fights against segregation and institutional racism. The local NCAAP Greater Bangor Area Branch is headed by Joseph A. Perry of telephone number 207-548-2081. The paper will explore what was discussed with the local chapter’s leader which ranges from the civil rights era to the current struggles of the 21st century.
NAACP stands for the National Association the for the Advancement of Colored people. Ever since its formation, its mission has been to challenge any forms of segregation or discrimination and demand equality rights for all the citizens of color. It was established in 1900 by civil rights activists and chaired by W. Dubois. It challenges segregation using three principle fronts; pressurizing politicians, legal cases as well as various boycotts and protests that are non-violent (Weinberger, 2011). The organization’s significance peaked after the WWII when its membership steeply rose. This is a period that the NAACP fondly describes as the organization’s Golden Years.
This organization was the key paragon of organizations fighting segregation via the U.S. court system. It used both the fifteenth and fourteenth amendments in a bid to guard the rights of civilians in their favor. These amendments assert that all citizenship rights as well as voting rights ought to be a guarantee to all people who were born within the U.S. regardless of their ethnicity or race (Wiggins, 2011). Furthermore, under these amendments, Americans especially minorities, could haul the government to courts in instances whereby it appeared the government acted in a manner that infringed upon their constitutional rights. The NAACP has in the past used decorated civil rights attorneys like Thurgood Marshall to support and push cases whereby the citizens had taken the government or its agencies to the court system. Two such cases which were successful include the Morgan v. Virginia 1946 case as well as the Smith v. Allwright 1944 case (Wiggins, 2011).
Morgan v. Virginian court case was deemed a success for the organization after being pushed all the way to the Supreme Court. The court battle resulted in making segregation on the interstate buses an illegal act. Similarly, through Marshall in the US Supreme Court in the case involving Smith v. Allwright, the organization managed to outlaw all-white democratic primaries throughout the U.S (“Defending Democracy,” 2011). These kinds of cases were quite significant since they demonstrated that organizations like the NAACP are capable of achieving successful steps towards putting to an end racism or segregations via non-violent actions.
The organization also makes use of direct non-violent action as an effective method of tackling practices that entrench racism or segregation. A good example of such an action was witnessed during the Montgomery Public Bus Boycott of between 1955 and 1956. During this boycott, black people were encouraged to boycott all their local buses after the arrest of Rosa Parks so as to highlight the significance of the black clients through financially sabotaging the organization (Weinberger, 2011). This action, together with the 1956 Browder v. Gayle court case, had the effect of outlawing segregation in the local buses. These actions demonstrated the power of pairing legal action with direct action. Strong action when it came to the organization’s leader such as E.D Nixon & Martin Luther King, was highlighted within events such as these. These had the effect of provoking significant news media attention and also conveyed the injustices that come with segregation to the international and American audience (“Defending Democracy,” 2011). The NAACP has a history of using the media to exert pressure on the sitting state or Federal government.
However, in talking with the local head of the NAACP chapter, he sought to clarify that NAACP does not take credit for the entirety of the achievements of the civil rights movements that span the period between 1945 and 1957. It is also crucial to note that not all of these de jure successes recorded led to automatic de-facto implementation. A good example was seen in the outcome of the Morgan v. Virginia court case since desegregation when it came to the interstate buses was not witnessed all over the U.S (Wiggins, 2011). As a response to this lack of implementation, a different civil rights organization referred to as the Congress of Racial Equality or CORE, dispatched a group of eight whites and eight blacks on what was referred to as the Journey of Reconciliation beginning from the states in the north to the deep south so as to gauge the receptiveness of the ruling by the Supreme Court. This action drew significant public attention and ended up successfully proving that bus companies operating mainly in the south had ignored the ruling (Wiggins, 2011). Even though this still failed to compel these southern-based bus firms to properly desegregate their commuter services, it was nonetheless groundbreaking since it managed to successfully link legal campaigns to non violent direct actions such as the NAACP-led Montgomery Public bus boycott.
The NAACP’s mission in the 21st century
The organization’s mission during the 21st C is to make sure there is political, social, economic as well as educational equality for all people so as to completely do away with race-based discrimination. These national efforts are currently being attained through political lobbying, litigation strategies that recorded immense success during the 1960s, as well as publicity efforts. The NAACP expanded its role and mission during the 1999s to include issues that ranged from police misconduct, the question of economic development, as well as the status of black foreign refugees (Wiggins, 2011). The group has also become vocal when it comes to issues that touch on LGBT rights in the U.S.
The organization is also currently channeling most of its activities through its youth sections to get more millenials involved in activism and civil rights activities. The NAACP Youth and college division is a section of the organization in which youth are deeply involved in decision making and leadership roles. Its council is made up of hundreds of county, state, highs school as well as college operations whereby the youth step forward and volunteer to share their opinions (“Defending Democracy,” 2011). The mission of the youth and college divisions is to educate the youth on the problems mainly affecting African Americans as well as the other ethnic and racial minorities. The movement also seeks to foster appreciation of the African Diaspora and the contributions of other peoples of color to the current civilization.
Activities in the minority communities
The NAACP has an economic department. This department recognizes the significance of the economy and economic issues when it comes to advancing a fair society and seeks to address the chronic economic realities facing the communities including lack of jobs, poverty, disproportionately high levels of unemployment, foreclosures and the lack of affordable housing. The movement’s economic department’s activities enhance the capacity and reach of African Americans as well as other undeserved groups via financial economic education; community and individual community asset building initiatives as well as diversity or inclusion in business hiring and monitoring of financial banking practices (“Defending Democracy,” 2011).
The department initiates activities that seek to empower local communities with the required education, resources or partnerships to nurture economic models that are sustainable. The group also seeks to make sure that industry and the government are knowledgeable or committed to finally bridging the gap on racial inequality more so when it comes to wealth, lending, as well as business ownership. When it comes to finance and banking, the NAACP has come up with nine banking principles that touch on fairness and mortgage lending so as to encourage transparency in the process that is associated with finally obtaining quality financing and nurturing relationships between people of color and financial institutions (Weinberger, 2011). This is a step towards finally empowering the community through having them access business loans and mortgages.
The economic department also has a program on economic education. The organization’s financial freedom campaign is grounded on the theory that community mobilization and organizing, heightened access to quality services and products, as well as monitoring to make sure there is an absence of discrimination ends up fostering economic solvency and financial security (Weinberger, 2011). The FFC is a micro grantee process whereby the economic department sub-grants funds to the organization’s state conference so as to administer financial education or economic advocacy campaigns within local minority communities across the U.S. These campaigns allow grantees to develop long and short-term state economic plans; can serve on much larger advocacy coalitions and hold education events while providing access to resources for the wider community. NAACP’s college and youth chapters also hold age-appropriate economic education seminars or workshops. The initiatives are executed in coordination with the numerous available non-profit and financial partners.
Having looked at the achievements and inputs that relate to the civil rights movement between 1945 and 1957, it is evident that the NAACP is largely credited with the successes witnessed during the civil rights era. It was the organization that initially opened the door for opportunities to realistically challenge the issue of segregation through the available legal mechanisms and it even managed to reverse previously unsuccessful ones like the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson one. The movement served as a good example to various other organizations like the Southern Christian Leader Conference and CORE to protest racism or segregation with the help of new ways of direct, non-violent actions. More so, NAACP itself along with other similar ones had not yet perfected its methods but would notably contribute in witnessing the dawn of the civil rights era starting the late 1950s.
- Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America. (2011). Baltimore: NAACP.
- Weinberger, S. (2011). The Birth of a Nation and the Making of the NAACP. journal of American Studies, 45(1), 77-93.
- Wiggins, L. (2011). NAACP looks at resegregation of American schools. The Crisis, 118(1), 40-41.