NAACP Turns 100 Today

Media 02.12.09

Today is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the NAACP.

At the time of the NAACP’s formation, lynching of Black people in the United States was common and a number of race riots where White people attacked Black people and burned their homes had broken out around the country.   A race riot in Springfield, Ill., in the summer of 1908, that resulted in the death of seven people highlighted the growing need for a civil rights organization. 

In the wake of the Springfield riot, 60 prominent Americans, black and white, came together in New York and signed a declaration called “The Call” on February 12, 1909.  The date was chosen because it was Lincoln’s 100th birthday and the group felt that the day “should be one of taking stock of the nation’s progress since 1865 [when slavery was abolished].”

Since its founding, the NAACP has been at the forefront of racial and economic justice, playing a major role in the transformation of the U.S. from Brown v. Board of Education, in which the Supreme Court ruled that segregated public schools were unconstitutional, to the passage of major civil rights laws that ended legal segregation in the South.

Read the history of the NAACP early years written by co-founder Mary White Ovington.