NAACP celebrates 110th anniversary of freedom fighting

Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Correspondent | 2/18/2019, 9:08 a.m.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People – NAACP – was founded 110 years ago after a deadly ...

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People – NAACP – was founded 110 years ago after a deadly race riot rocked the city of Springfield, Illinois. “Because of the riots in Springfield, that brought about serious conversations and meetings about starting an organization, a national organization, that would try to address racial issues,” said Nell Clay, Springfield and central Illinois African American History Museum president.

The Springfield race riots took place in August of 1908.

Today, the NAACP remains the foremost civil rights organization in the world with an overriding mission: equality for all.

“There were two African Americans in jail, one accused of rape and one accused of murder,” Clay said. “A mob came to the jail to do their own justice by lynching the individuals.”

Several lives were lost and property was destroyed during the race riot. But at the time, there had been race riots throughout the nation, according to the local Fox affiliate near Chicago.

So why did the Springfield race riots lead to the formation of the NAACP? “Because Springfield was the land of Lincoln – the individual that freed the slaves,” Clay said. “Maybe there was a thought that this was a great place for African Americans to live.”

Once the riots were over, discussions began for a necessary organization.

“People got together around the country, especially throughout Illinois, and said again enough is enough. You need to meet and form an organization that will deal with race in America because race riots were unacceptable,” said Teresa Haley, president of the Illinois NAACP chapter.

Several scholars officially founded the NAACP in New York on February 12, 1909.

Throughout its history, the NAACP has fought to meet the objectives of people of color and have kept to their main goals and principles including:

  • To ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all citizens

  • To achieve equality of rights and eliminate race prejudice among the citizens of the United States

  • To remove all barriers of racial discrimination through democratic processes

  • To seek enactment and enforcement of federal, state, and local laws securing civil rights

  • To inform the public of the adverse effects of racial discrimination and to seek its elimination

  • To educate persons as to their constitutional rights and to take all lawful action to secure the exercise thereof, and to take any other lawful action in furtherance of these objectives, consistent with the NAACP’s Articles of Incorporation and this Constitution.

During its 110th anniversary observance, the NAACP has recognized its founders.

Founding member William Walling authored, “The Race War in the North,” an article detailing the Springfield race riot.

Founding member W.E.B. Du Bois served as the NAACP director of publicity and research from 1910-1934, and was a member of the board of directors, and founder and editor of “The Crisis Magazine,” which continues to serve as a source of news and information from an African American perspective.

In her years at the NAACP Rosa Parks worked specifically as a criminal justice and sexual assault investigator. In 1944 she lead the investigation into the rape of Recy Taylor.