How the NAACP Fights Racial Discrimination

How the NAACP Fights Racial Discrimination

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How did the NAACP (the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) get its start? What needs and issues does it address, and what has it accomplished since it was founded in 1909?

Economic development is a ‘game changer’

The NAACP has six strategic Game Changers for 21st century advocacy, and at the top of that list is economic sustainability. The NAACP believes that everyone deserves a chance to live the American dream and seeks to build a nation in which everyone has equal opportunity to achieve economic success, sustainability, and financial security.

In service of this mission, the NAACP Economic Department works to enhance the capacity of African Americans and other underserved groups through financial education individual and community asset-building initiatives diversity and inclusion in business hiring, career advancement, and procurement and monitoring financial banking practices.

With the support of civic-minded organizations like Wells Fargo, our Economic Department develops and implements programs to promote minority entrepreneurship and business development and to address poverty, unemployment, and barriers to affordable housing.


Seeking racial justice and equality, local Blacks founded the Colorado Springs branch of the NAACP at Payne Chapel in August 1918. Reverend A. Wayman Ward, pastor of the church became the first president. Throughout the 1930s, NAACP members Kimbal Stroud Goffman and Charles Banks were two of the most outspoken local activists working to eliminate segregation practiced by local businesses, and discriminatory housing practices. The pair worked to organize Blacks and Hispanics into a coordinated political unit, to better combat discrimination and injustice.

– From the CSPM Curator of History

The NAACP has a rich history in the United States working for the equality of people of color and the organization has played an important role in Colorado Springs since 1918. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is civil rights organization formed in 1909 with the mission of advocating for equal justice for African Americans. The organization was started by early civil rights leaders W. E. B. DuBois, Mary White Ovington, Moorfield Storey and Ida B. Wells. Since its founding, the NAACP mission statement has evolved to include issues of police misconduct, questions of economic development and the status of black foreign refugees to “ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.”

The Colorado Springs branch of the NAACP was chartered in November 1918 at Payne Chapel east of downtown Colorado Springs. Led by Reverend A. Wayman Ward, Colorado Springs African Americans organized the local branch to promote political, social and economic equality in the Pikes Peak region. Throughout the 1930s, local NAACP members worked diligently to organize both black and Latino activists into a political force to face off discrimination and increase opportunities for local people of color. This effort was led by outspoken activists Kimbal Stroud Goffman and Charles Banks who would go on to become one of the city’s most important racial leaders.

As a national force, the NAACP has been influential in all aspects and iterations of the modern American Civil Rights movement helping to end segregationist Jim Crow laws and advocate for the passage the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts of 1964 and 1965, respectively. Today, national NAACP initiatives continue to shape how the country treats racial minorities and include political lobbying for the advancement of African Americans and litigation efforts backing victims of hate crimes and police brutality.

In 2012, a bomb was left outside the unoccupied headquarters of the Colorado Springs NAACP branch. The pipe bomb exploded in the early hours of the morning, fortunately hurting no one and causing minimal damage to the building. The crime was investigated by the FBI as a possible terrorist attack and months later police arrested and charged a local suspect.
In Colorado Springs the NAACP continues to play an important role in the activist community regularly partnering with other local non-profits to promote their mission of racial justice and economic equality in the city.

How the NAACP fought lynching – by using the racists' own pictures against them

In July of 1916, at the end of a long day, readers all across the US picked up the most recent issue of a new magazine, maybe from a coffee table or while browsing at the library. Its cover image was ordinary: recent college graduates, the women dressed in white lace and the men in fine suits.

The articles seemed standard, too, with pieces about young doctors, a new production of Shakespeare, and baseball. But then, at the end, readers were taken aback by something entirely gruesome: an eight-page supplement featuring pictures of an African American man being lynched, step by step, from the convening of the mob to the hanging to the body in a heap of ashes. Nothing was censored – and that was the point.

The magazine was the Crisis, the monthly publication of the then new NAACP, edited by WEB Du Bois. The images were part of a campaign that appropriated and subverted racist imagery for progressive purposes. They were a revelation, one that cemented the NAACP’s status as a leading civil rights organization and opened Americans’ eyes to horrific hate crimes across the country.

  • WEB Du Bois, left, the editor of the NAACP’s monthly magazine the Crisis, right (Library of Congress).

The victim in those nightmarish images was Jesse Washington, a black 17-year-old accused of murdering Lucy Fryer, the white woman for whom he worked, in Waco, Texas, on 8 May 1916. Fryer had been bludgeoned to death with a hammer, and Washington was found covered in blood. Arrested on the spot, Washington confessed under duress: authorities told him they would protect him from a gathering lynch mob. That confession was the centerpiece of his trial one week later, on 15 May.

It took the jury all of three minutes to reach their verdict: a death sentence, and the 1,500 people packed into the courtroom wanted it to happen now. Within seconds, Washington was seized and pulled into the street, where he was beaten, stabbed, dragged, and chained. The crowd swelled into the thousands, and all were rapt as Washington was hanged from a tree and burned alive, a throng of white spectators guffawing and gawking, straining their necks to get a better look and giving up their spots for one man only, a photographer named Fred Gildersleeve. Waco’s mayor had called Gildersleeve personally to capture the event, and the photographer readily complied, arriving on the scene with his camera bag and flash pan, using the same discerning eye with which he snapped local sporting events and youthful parades to capture Washington’s agonizing final moments, his flesh turned to char.

  • A picture postcard depicts a crowd of spectators at the lynching of Jesse Washington in Waco, Texas, 1916 (Library of Congress).

None of this was unusual. Lynching had been a largely tolerated part of American culture since 1836, when a mixed-race man named Francis McIntosh was burned alive for allegedly obstructing a police investigation. In the ensuing years, thousands of people were murdered in a similar fashion. Black men were the most frequent targets – an estimated 2,812 were lynched between 1885 and 1915, and Washington was the 31st victim of 1916 – but Mexicans, Jews, Native Americans, black women, and white progressives were sometimes targeted as well, threatening as they were to Christian white supremacy.

Within the lynching culture was a subculture of sorts, one that reveled in trading postcards of the crimes the way kids today might trade baseball cards. That’s why Gildersleeve was taking pictures of Washington’s murder – to cash in. He went on to sell prints for 10 cents apiece, about $2.30 in today’s dollars. But little did Gildersleeve know that his images would be used to flip the script, wielded in the fight for justice by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

  • Lynching postcards were a popular – and profitable – side business for photographers. Like Jesse Washington’s, the 1910 lynching of Allen Brooks in Dallas, Texas, was celebrated in the form (George W Cook Dallas / Texas Image Collection at Southern Methodist University).

Formed in 1908, the NAACP spent its first few years focused largely on fighting Jim Crow and other forms of segregation, but leaders were keen to get involved in a burgeoning anti-lynching movement, and understood immediately upon hearing about Washington’s death that they needed to redouble their efforts. To that end, the NAACP secretary, Roy Nash, wired Elisabeth Freeman, an English-born suffragette who he knew was rallying in Fort Worth, and asked her to travel to Waco to investigate. “You will probably be able very soon to locate liberals or Northerners there with whom you can talk freely,” Nash wrote on 16 May, the day after the lynching.

Freeman was unsure. She didn’t know much about the case, and she’d never worked on an anti-lynching campaign. “I am terribly ‘green’ at this work & scarcely know what you want to know,” she wrote back. Nash, however, pleaded, and Freeman, a fierce believer in equality, agreed to take a look. Despite her misgivings, Freeman was a natural investigator. She spent eight days in and around Waco, interviewing participants and witnesses to Washington’s murder. Many refused to cooperate, lest they bring their town negative press, but Freeman used her wit and wile to get the truth, even from the mayor, disarming people with this line, delivered with an English accent: “I [have] been in Texas four months and would like to go back North and see if I could not show the people that Waco was not as bad as they would expect.” Charmed, Waco’s residents spilled the beans, giving Freeman the material she needed for what became the Crisis supplement. And that included Gildersleeve’s damning, and ultimately useful, images. It was a macabre jackpot.

Combating Racism and Racial Discrimination in Europe

In today's world, contemporary forms of racism and racial discrimination are complex and disturbing. In Europe, these issues increasingly lie at the heart of political and social concerns. Faced with persistent expressions of racism and xenophobia, the Council of Europe Member States 1 have, for several years now, been taking firm and sustained action to combat these trends.

Without making an exhaustive inventory of the situation and listing all the problems observed, we can outline a few broad categories in which racism and racial discrimination occur: day to day life in major areas, such as employment, education, housing and access to social services human rights violations against members of Roma communities hostile attitudes to and stigmatization of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers increasingly widespread anti-Semitic incidents intensification of expressions of Islamophobia use of racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic arguments in political discourse and a negative climate in public opinion, which plays a crucial part in the emergence of expressions of racism and intolerance in society. These trends, of course, vary in scale from one country to another, but are significant enough to be of concern.

To cope with this situation, European countries have devised responses at both national and European levels. The salient feature of the Council of Europe Member States' action over the past few years is the fact that they address the issues surrounding the fight against racism and racial discrimination from the perspective of protecting and promoting human rights. In other words, the right to be protected from racism and racial discrimination is first and foremost a fundamental right of all human beings.

When it comes to working out practical and viable long-term solutions to combat racism and racial discrimination, choices may differ from one country to another. All strategies in this respect should at least comprise measures in the areas of legislation, awareness-raising, education, positive action and participation. While legislation alone is not enough to combat racism and racial discrimination, the law is obviously a cornerstone. In Europe, the greatest advances in recent years have been made in the legal sphere. Many Member States have embarked on reforms to supplement their anti-discrimination legislation at a national level. This is a welcome development from the victims' point of view, given that appropriate legal measures to combat racial discrimination effectively, dissuasively and as satisfactorily as possible are of paramount importance. But enacting anti-discrimination legislation does not necessarily mean successfully ensuring equal rights for everyone in society. It is not enough to outlaw discrimination we must also combat it by ensuring that anti-discrimination provisions are actually applied and put into practice. The same can be said for criminal law provisions prohibiting racist acts.

If all these provisions are to be effective, it is imperative that they be implemented by the authorities, including the police and the judiciary. They should not exist only on paper, but should comprise large-scale awareness campaigns directed at the general public and potential victims, as well as training for the appropriate officials. For this reason, it is important to set up an independent national body with the unique responsibility of fighting racism and racial discrimination 2 many Council of Europe Member States have taken steps to set up such bodies.

At the broader European level, the most significant advance in recent years has been the adoption of Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights, which came into force on 1 April 2005. The Protocol contains a general independent clause prohibiting discrimination. The fact that the European Court of Human Rights will be able to deal with individual applications in this area makes the Protocol a particularly useful instrument for combating racial discrimination. For the time being, however, only 35 of the 47 Council of Europe Member States have signed Protocol No. 12, and only 15 of them have ratified it. 3 Lastly, Member States have taken a further step to combat racism and racial discrimination by setting up and bringing into operation the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) in 1994. ECRI, whose work is based on respect for human rights, aims to protect all persons on the territory of the Council of Europe Member States from racism and all forms of racial discrimination. It is made up of independent, impartial members, whose statutory activities include country by country monitoring of racism and racial discrimination, drawing up general policy recommendations and building awareness and disseminating information through its relations with civil society. 4

One of the main achievements of ECRI is bringing about changes in law and its practice at national and European levels to counteract racism and intolerance more effectively. 5 One of its major contributions is undoubtedly the fact that it has made people understand that "racism" and "racial discrimination" are changing concepts and now encompass acts targeting persons or groups, not only because of their colour or ethnic origin, but also because of their language, religion or nationality. The main prerequisite for effectively combating racism and racial discrimination is recognizing that these problems exist. ECRI has shed light on daily and widespread racism and racial discrimination at the pan-European level, which creates substantial and sometimes even insurmountable obstacles for many individuals.

In the immediate future, European Governments are faced with several challenges, two of which are very significant: enforcing action against racism and racial discrimination in an environment increasingly affected by the fight against terrorism and addressing the issue of integration, which is widely debated in most European countries. Attention should be drawn to the ECRI General Policy Recommendation No. 8 on combating racism while fighting terrorism and to General Policy Recommendation No. 11, adopted on 29 June 2007, on combating racism and racial discrimination in policing. The latter contains a legal definition of racial profiling and asks Member States to clearly define and prohibit racial profiling by law. As racial profiling has increased and assumed new dimensions as part of the fight against terrorism, Recommendation No. 11 is a useful means of countering this specific form of racial discrimination. Regarding integration, it is essential to firmly underscore that the success of any integration strategy will essentially hinge on the importance it attaches to combating discrimination in general, particularly racial discrimination. The principle of non-discrimination and policies on the pursuit of equality are the necessary basis for achieving integration.

In the final analysis, encouraging signs at the national and European levels demonstrate that Governments and civil society are genuinely involved in fighting racism and racial discrimination in Europe. But the fight is far from won and advances are needed now more than ever to guide our countries and give practical effect and full meaning to the universal principle: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights".

1 The 47 Member States of the Council of Europe are Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

2 See ECRI General Policy Recommendation No. 2 on specialized bodies to combat racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance at the national level.

3 For more information on Protocol No. 12, see

4 For more information on ECRI and its work, see

5 See General Policy Recommendation No. 7 on national legislation to combat racism and racial discrimination.

This is about seeing Blacks as fully human

A statue of a chained man is on display at the National Memorial for Peace and Justice to honor thousands of people killed in racist lynchings, in Montgomery, Ala. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, File)

“Justice and equality are at stake in this Supreme Court case and I am very concerned about the lasting implications that a bad decision can have on key Civil Rights laws, and particularly a law that protects against race discrimination throughout our country,” said Senator Kamala Harris.

“Let’s remember our history. When the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was passed Black people were not considered as equal human beings under the law. This section of the code was designed to stop racial discrimination in business contracts, regardless of whether discrimination was the sole reason a business contract wasn’t signed. Essentially, it would be against the law if racial discrimination was just a part of the reason a contract was signed. If the Supreme Court narrows this law, it would give corporations cover to cover up racial discrimination and avoid accountability. A bad decision in this case, could have impact on everyday businesses of Black people across our country.

For example, a homebuilder could decide that he won’t contract with the only carpenter in town because of his skin color. If this civil rights law is narrowed by the court, that homebuilder could just say the decision was also motivated by the carpenters lack of experience, when in reality, it was about the contractors race.”

Seizing the moment

Parks’ protest did not come out of the blue. In 1954, the US Supreme Court verdict in the case of Brown v Board of Education signalled federal opposition to racial segregation. The court ruled that segregated public schools deprived African Americans of their entitlement to “equal protection of the laws”. And black leaders in Montgomery – including labour activists, NAACP members, and middle-class members of the Women’s Political Committee – had been campaigning for better treatment for black people on the local buses for several years.

Parks’ refusal to give up her seat, and her subsequent arrest, seemed to offer these campaigners with the chance they had been looking for: to test the state’s bus segregation laws in the federal courts.

Rosa Parks, with Martin Luther King Jr. USIA National Archives/Wikimedia

As soon as they heard of Parks’ arrest, Women’s Political Committee leader Jo Ann Robinson and veteran trade unionist E. D. Nixon set about mobilising a community-wide boycott of the buses. Under the leadership of a charismatic, but previously unknown preacher named Martin Luther King Jr, the Montgomery Improvement Association (MIA) spearheaded the year-long boycott that captured the attention of the world and heaped pressure on the city’s white authorities to respond to black demands.

Initially, the MIA used the African American response to Rosa Parks’ arrest to campaign for better treatment of blacks on the segregated buses. But the NAACP wanted more – it offered legal assistance to the MIA, on condition that the organisation fight for full integration.

To avoid legal complications relating to Parks’ arraignment, she was not made a plaintiff in the case of Browder v Gayle, which challenged Alabama’s segregation laws. In November 1956, the US Supreme Court issued a brief and narrow ruling that, in the wake of the Brown decision, racial segregation on private buses in Montgomery was unlawful under the Fourteenth Amendment.


The NAACP was founded on February 12, 1909 by a group of African American civil rights activists, such as W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, and Mary Church Terrell. The early incarnation of the NAACP was primarily focused on leading lawsuits against the disenfranchisement of African Americans, which was widespread in the Jim Crow South.

Early Years

After World War I, the NAACP spent most of its time using legislation, lobbying, and education to fight against lynching of African Americans. The NAACP spent a decade fighting for federal anti-lynching legislation, but the Solid South coalition were effectively able to block its passage.

In the 1940s, the NAACP began a pattern of launching civil suits to fight for the constitutional rights of African Americans. This method was done to bypass the Solid South bloc that stymied civil rights legislation. The NAACP spent decades of legal action to overturn the “separate but equal” doctrine established by the Supreme Court in Plessy v. Ferguson, which allowed states to codify segregation.

The Civil Rights Era

The NAACP’s legal project ultimately culminated in the 1954 Supreme Court decision of Brown v. the Board of Education that overturned desegregation in public schools. This emboldened the NAACP to pursue an agenda of overturning desegregation in all areas in the South. In 1955, the NAACP organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott as part of Rosa Parks’, who was the local chapter secretary, campaign against desegregation on city buses. In retaliation for this boycott, the Alabama government barred the NAACP from operating in the state. Although this was overturned in 1958, it limited the NAACP’s ability to organize during the civil rights movement for a time.

During the 1960s, the NAACP pushed for civil rights legislation. Although Kennedy was assassinated before he was able to get Congress to pass civil rights legislation, his successor Lyndon B. Johnson was able to get those bills passed. The NAACP’s efforts successfully led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that ended racial discrimination in employment, education, and public accommodations and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which prohibits racial discrimination in voting.

Modern Era

To this day, the NAACP continues its work fighting for the civil rights of every person in this country. Our organization has fought for the passage of gay marriage, against police brutality, the establishing of a universal vote by mail system, and has supported the struggle for environmental justice in our communities.

How the NAACP Fights Racial Discrimination - HISTORY

NAACP: The Fight Against Racial Inequality

The NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People founded in 1909 in New York City, is the oldest, largest and strongest Civil Rights organization in the United States. The principle objective of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of the United States. Although I have known about the existence of the organization and have heard about some of its contributions , I was quite unfamiliar with specific data about this organization. From my past studies of African American and books and topics, I have often heard about the NAACP, so I always sought the opportunity to find out more information about this group. Therefore, this assignment was a great opportunity for me. Because I had no idea which book I should look for to investigate the NAACP, I chose the Internet to gain the information. The NAACP has a well-organized web site with information about its history, current activities and even a membership application. Through the search, I learned several new things which surprised me.

I had regarded the NAACP as an organization only for African Americans because this organization concentrates on Civil Rights. In my mind, the Civil Rights Movement only refers to African Americans and not other minorities. This is totally my misunderstanding. The word "minority" includes all ethnic groups that seek equal opportunity and rights in this country. I was ashamed of my lack of knowledge but it was really good to correct my misperception.

The next thing which amazed me was the number of its branches. The NAACP is a network of more than 2,200 branches covering all 50 states. The NAACP serves people at the local level by responding to the demand of citizens for action on issues. The NAACP has branches even in Japan. Los Angeles Chapter is the one of the branches. It was formed in 1914 in the home of Drs. John and Vada Somerville, both graduates of the University of Southern California School of Dentistry and active leaders in the affairs of the Black Community. The focus of this chapter is opposing racial discrimination and second-class treatment of the city's Black citizens, and serving as the principal political leadership in the Black community. The benefit the NAACP provides for the community is clear, especially around the theme of education. For example, in 1932, in the aftermath of an earthquake which damaged Los Angeles public schools, the branch filed a successful lawsuit against the Monrovia School Board to force them to give black students the same opportunity as white students who were allowed to enroll in that city's schools until Los Angeles schools could reopen. Today, the branch continues to support the programs and policies of the NAACP with aggressive action at the local level.

NAACP is committed to achievement through nonviolence and relies upon the press, the petition, the ballot and the court, and is persistent in the use of legal and moral persuasion. In my opinion, this attitude clearly provides children with a model showing how minorities can fight inequality.

Candace Owens Says She Never Had ‘Race Issues’ Even Though She Sued For Racial Discrimination

G ive Candace Owens a camera and she will tap dance — even if it means blatantly lying. While talking on Laura Ingraham‘s hateful show, Owens claimed she never had “race issues” growing up, but selectively forgot that she and her family sued her high school — which is when she was growing up — for racial discrimination.

Owens babbled, “Obama did a lot to tear this country a part. I do not remember when I was growing up having all of these race issues. Okay? I really don’t remember… When I was alive, this was not an issue. It all became about race.”

She then ranted about Hillary Clinton. Watch below:

Being that Owens can’t “remember,” let us remind you.

In 2007, she accused white boys of racially harassing and threatening to kill her (sound pretty racist, right?). Owens claimed the boys were the son of then-Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy, Connecticut’s former governor. Because of the NAACP, Owens’ family received a settlement of $37,500 from Stamford Public Schools.

Scot X. Esdaile, the Connecticut NAACP president who helped Owens with her lawsuit, was shocked to hear Owens become a conservative. Esdaile told Mic in 2018, “We’re very saddened and disappointed in her. It seems to me that she’s now trying to play to a different type of demographic.”

He also said, “It’s the same type of thing Clarence Thomas did. [Thomas] reaped all the benefits of affirmative action and then tried to roll over on it. It’s that kind of mentality and disrespect.”

Owens now calls the NAACP “one of the worst groups for Black people,” even though the organization helped her win a racial discrimination lawsuit.

Let’s not forget Owens own racism she has put out there. Earlier this year, disgusting pro-Hitler comments surfaced. She said, “When we say nationalism, the first thing people think about, at least in America, is Hitler. He was a national socialist. If Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, okay, fine.”

She continued, “The problem is he wanted, he had dreams outside of Germany. He wanted to globalize, he wanted everybody to be German, everybody to be speaking German, everybody to look a different way. To me, that’s not nationalism. So in thinking about how it could go bad down the line, I don’t really have an issue with nationalism, I really don’t.”

See Owens’ shining, racist moment below:

Owens was also cited as having “influenced” at least one of the alleged gunmen who launched the deadly shooting attacks on two mosques in New Zealand in March.

Racism clearly did exist when she was “growing up” and she continues to perpetuate it today.

Watch the video: Jill Scott Wows Crowd With Amazing Performance of Two Hit Songs at 51st NAACP Image Awards