They vowed, “to promote equality of rights and eradicate caste or race prejudice among citizens of the United States; to advance the interest of colored citizens; to secure for them impartial suffrage; and to increase their opportunities for securing justice in the courts, education for their children, employment according to their ability, and complete equality before the law.”
A group of sixty people, Black and white, signed the call, prominent reformers all, and the next year an interracial group of 300 men and women met to create a permanent organization. After a second meeting in May 1910, they adopted a formal name, and the NAACP was born, although they settled on the centennial of Lincoln’s birth as their actual beginning.
Supporters of the project included muckraking journalists Ray Stannard Baker and Ida B. Wells, and sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois had been a founding member of the Niagara Movement, a Black civil rights organization formed in 1905. In 1910, Du Bois would choose to leave his professorship at Atlanta University to become the NAACP’s director of publicity and research. For the next 14 years, he would edit the organization’s flagship journal The Crisis.
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On February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky. Exactly 100 years later, journalists, reformers, and scholars meeting in New York City deliberately chose the anniversary of his birth as the starting point for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Danielle L. McGuire, At the Dark End of the Street: Black Women, Rape, and Resistance—A New History of the Civil Rights Movement from Rosa Parks to the Rise of Black Power (New York: Vintage, 2011).