These were the bold and empowered founders of the NAACP
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is widely known as the most influential Civil Rights organization in history. It was formed in the early 20th century in response to growing anti-black violence in America. The NAACP supported equality for all, providing resources for all Americans, black and white. It pressed for the advancement of justice, education, and equal treatment for African Americans in the United States. The founding members of the NAACP were of different races and religions, yet all had an equivalent goal: to support equality for all in America. These were the bold, influential, and empowered founders of the NAACP.
W.E.B. Du Bois
W.E.B. Du Bois is arguably the most well-known founder of the NAACP. He transformed the lives of Black citizens in society, including the way that they were viewed by both white peers and themselves. He attempted to open the door for Black citizens to recognize their potential, encouraging the Black community to seek vocational training, better their work skills, and employ themselves to survive in a racist society. He believed that Black citizens in the U.S. could best support themselves by learning practical job skills rather than pursuing social luxuries like higher education. Du Bois, himself, was a highly educated man, earning degrees from Fisk and Harvard. He was the first African-American man to earn a doctorate degree and later went on to become a professor. He used his extensive education and wit to try to solve issues in society using data, strategically providing aid to Black citizens, and influencing the Black community with his writing. He was a spearhead for the Civil Rights Movement, both providing aid to the Black community through the NAACP and encouraging Black citizens to support themselves.
Ida B. Wells
Ida B. Wells was a liberal, a feminist, and a prominent female African-American leader during the Civil Rights movement. Her skills were in both activism and journalism. She frequently shed light on the horrible conditions of Black citizens in the Southern states. Some of Wells most notable work was her writings on lynchings in the United States. She was an active civil rights advocate from a young age, defending herself in court after being thrown off a first-class train. After several of her friends were killed in acts of white mob violence, Wells turned her attention to journalism surrounding violence against black citizens, lynching, and the suppression of the Black community through violence in the United States. After the formation of the NAACP, Wells formed the National Association of Colored Women’s Club, focusing on both civil rights and women’s suffrage.
Archibald Grimké witnessed violence against Black citizens from a young age. He was born into slavery in the South, the son of a slave owner and a slave. After the abolition of slavery, Grimké went on to pursue higher education. After receiving a B.A. and an M.A at two different universities, he transferred to Harvard and received a law degree. He practiced law in Boston for many years, often focusing on social issues surrounding civil rights, racism, and the conditions facing Black citizens. He frequently wrote about social issues faced by Black Americans, published works from abolitionists, and wrote histories on slavery. Eventually, he was appointed spokesperson of the Colored National League and became the Vice President of the NAACP.
Florence Kelly was a stunning figure contributing to the social and political reformation in the United States. Kelly made massive strides in workplace safety and treatment of employees, including fighting for the labor rights of children, abolishing sweatshops, advocating for eight-hour workdays, and establishing a minimum wage. She also focused her energy on ending racial discrimination in the U.S. Her parents were both abolitionists, and as a result, she became an advocate for the rights of Black Americans early in her life. Her involvement in establishing fair work conditions gave her an inside look into racial disparities and the mistreatment of Black employees in the workplace. As a result, she was eager to help form the NAACP in 1909 and focus on the reformation of the 20th century racist society.
Mary White Ovington
Mary White Ovington was a significant civil rights activist and one of the white founders of the NAACP. Raised by abolitionist parents, Ovington grew up as a liberal. She was exposed to racial discrimination during a speech by Booker T. Washington. After the powerful speech, she poured her life into helping the Black community achieve racial equality in all parts of society. Being a journalist, she began to avidly research housing and employment problems New York’s African American population. She produced several books examining social and political problems plaguing the Black community during her lifetime. In 1909, Ovington helped to form the NAACP with other liberal civil rights activists.
Charles Edward Russell
Charles Edward Russell was a journalist, opinion columnist, and editor who poured his passionate opinions into newspaper columns, books, and journals. A great deal of his social commentary was geared towards advocacy for those at a disadvantage in American society. His muckraking exposés criticized the state of American society and exposed American social and political evils. He attempted to elevate the voices of and issues involving immigrants, Black citizens, and others at the bottom of the social ladder in the United States. His rageful and passionate journalism also inspired commentary and exposés from a number of other famous muckrakers, inspiring rage for social evils across the U.S.
Henry Moskowitz was a Jewish civil rights activist who was an active member of society in New York. Attending university in New York and returning to the city for work, Moskowitz was involved in a number of organizations that kept the city afloat. He was appointed as the president of the Municipal Civil Service Commission in 1914 by the mayor at the time. In 1917, he worked as the Commissioner of Public Markets in N.Y.C. He loved N.Y.C.’s theater scene and became the founding Executive Director of The Broadway League. With his widespread influence in New York, Moskowitz represented himself as a civil rights activist and helped with the formation the NAACP early on in his career.
Oswald Garrison Villard
Oswald Garrison Villard worked as a journalist and editor for most of his life, serving as the editor for the New York Evening Post. He was the son of Fanny Villard, a suffragist, and grandson of William Llyod Garrison, famed abolitionist. Through his position of power at the N.Y.E.P., Villard helped fund a number of liberal causes, including supporting groups geared towards equality for Black citizens in the United States. He began to envision a group that could support the equality of the Black community. His vision eventually became the NAACP. He funded the entirety of the NAACP’s budget and provided the organization a meeting/office space in the New York Evening Post Building. Although he and W.E.B. Du Bois had a falling out, he still remained a board member of the NAACP until the day he died.
William English Walling
William English Walling may have been the grandson of a rich slaveowner, yet he was a firm abolitionist and civil rights activist during his lifetime. He was extremely liberal and concerned himself with labor reform, the rights of women, and the advancement of Black citizens in the U.S. After witnessing the terrifying events of Bloody Sunday, a demonstration held by the Social Democratic Federation in 1887, Walling became interested in politics and the rights of all citizens. After investigating the Springfield Race Riot of 1908, he became deeply involved in racial issues in society and helped to form the NAACP in 1909.