NAACP provides key support for African-Americans

Jordan Parcell

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This week, I’m writing about a group of people rather than an individual. This group is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, otherwise known as the NAACP. 

In 1908, there was a race riot in Springfield, Illinois. There were two reports of black men assaulting white women in their homes made within hours of each other. Two men, Joe James and George Richardson, were taken into custody. Upon hearing of these allegations, a mob of the town’s white population formed at the Sangamon County Courthouse with the hopes of Lynching the two men, but were disappointed to learn that the tow accused men had been taken to an undisclosed second location. The crowd decided to take out their frustrations on two other, innocent and uninvolved black men, Scott Burton and William Donegan, who were quickly lynched. Scott Burton was chosen for no apparent reason, while Donegan was targeted because he had been married to a white woman for over 30 years.

As if lynching two innocent men wasn’t enough, the mob then went through town and began to attack other black residents, as well as burning down their homes and businesses that were owned by black people or served black patrons. After all was said and done, six African-American individuals had been shot and killed and about 2,000 were driven out of the city. Somewhere around 150 people suspected of participating in the riot were arrested. Other mob participants threatened anybody who might be able to testify against those who had been arrested. 

It was later determined that one of the men who was originally accused of assault was in fact innocent.

The NAACP was founded in response to such senseless racial violence on Feb. 12, 1909 and is still active today. According to their website, “the NAACP’s mission was and is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of the United States and eliminate race prejudice.”

Original members of the NAACP included suffragists, social workers, journalists, labor reformers and intellectuals among others who were involved in the Niagara movement, which had been founded in 1905. The first president was Moorfield Storey, who was a white lawyer. As a matter of fact, when the NAACP was first founded, activist and author W. E. B. DuBois was the only black person in a leadership position. 

There are over 2,000 locations nationwide, with the nearest being in Wichita. There is also a website which is updated regularly. 

Although many don’t know it, the NAACP is very active in the goings on of the country. Some of the issues they focus on are federal advocacy, education, media diversity, and criminal justice. They strive to help correct the way people of color are treated and viewed in the country. They also encourage people to participate in the 2020 census to get a more accurate representation of how many African-American people are in the country, as it has been stated that  the census would “substantially undercount African Americans and other people of color in communities throughout the United States causing inequalities in political representation and deficiencies in federal funding of those communities,” according to their website. 

The NAACP also holds the ACT-SO, or the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics, which aim to encourage academic excellence and recognize talent and achievement.