Founded Feb. 12. 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a grassroots–based civil rights organization with more than a half-million members and supporters.
The NAACP was formed partly in response to the continuing horrific practice of lynching and the 1908 race riot in Springfield, the capital of Illinois and birthplace of President Abraham Lincoln. Echoing the focus of W.E.B. Du Bois' Niagara Movement began in 1905, the NAACP's stated goal was to secure for all people the rights guaranteed in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution, which promised an end to slavery, the equal protection of the law, and universal adult male suffrage, respectively.
The NAACP's principal objective is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of United States and eliminate race prejudice. The NAACP seeks to remove all barriers of racial discrimination through the democratic processes.
The NAACP established its national office in New York City in 1910 and named a board of directors as well as a president, Moorfield Storey, a white constitutional lawyer and former president of the American Bar Association. The only African American among the organization's executives, Du Bois was made director of publications and research and in 1910 established the official journal of the NAACP, The Crisis. The Crisis is one of the oldest black periodicals in America and it became a voice of the Harlem Renaissance.
The NAACP assumed a leadership role in such issues as lynching, school desegregation, and passage of a federal civil rights law, but was sometimes criticized for working exclusively within the system by pursuing legislative and judicial solutions.
In recent years, the NAACP has been concerned with urban poverty and crime, job discrimination, affirmative action, disparities in economics, health care, education, voter empowerment and the criminal justice system.
A Greensboro branch on the NAACP was formed in the 1930s. Later, during WWII, a NAACP Youth Council was formed in the city. Many African American leaders were members of the NAACP, including Ezell Blair Sr., Nell Coley, Vance Chavis, Cecil Bishop, and Dr. George Simkins. Presidents included Rev. Julius Douglas and Dr. Edwin Edmonds. Members of the Youth Council included Randolph Blackwell, William Thomas, and Ezell Blair Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), who was later a member of the Greensboro Four that began sit-in demonstrations at the downtown Woolworth store. After the sit-ins, in 1960, the NAACP was actively involved in negotiations between student protestors, city officials, and business owners.