Formation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

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On this day in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was formally founded. Its origins go back to 1905, when a group of 32 prominent African Americans, led by W.E.B. Du Bois, gathered on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls (U.S. hotels were segregated) to discuss the disenfranchisement of Blacks in the South over the previous two decades. This started the Niagara Movement. A year later, three white members joined, Mary White Ovington, William Walling and Henry Moscowitz. After race riots in 1908, these same members gathered in New York City and thought up the NAACP. On February 12, they gathered in conjunction with Du Bois, Ida B. Wells and others to found the NAACP. However, the name and structure of the organization was not ratified formally until a year later at their second conference on May 30, 1910 when they also selected their first officers. It was incorporated a year later in 1911 and its mission statement was, “To promote equality of rights and to eradicate caste or race prejudice among the citizens of the United States; to advance the interest of colored citizens; to secure for them impartial suffrage; and to increase their opportunities for securing justice in the courts, education for the children, employment according to their ability and complete equality before law.” It became one of the most influential civil rights organizations in the U.S., as well one of the oldest.

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