Thursday, February 12, 2009

NAACP | Happy 100th Birthday (Updated July 7, 2016)

This illustration shows the veneration of Lincoln shown by those
celebrating the end of slavery in the United States.
Feb. 12, 2009–Today is the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln and also the 100th birthday of the NAACP.

Its founding was first scheduled for February 12, 1909, as a mark of respect for Lincoln.

For the same reason, this is considered the NAACP's birth date even though the meeting that actually created the organization was postponed to May 30, 1909.

Billed as a conference of the Niagara Movement, the meeting was held in New York City's Henry Street Settlement House.

The Founders of the NAACP

The 40 people in attendance called themselves at first the "National Negro Committee". Harvard Professor W. E. B. Du Bois helped organize the event and presided over it. One year later, at its second conference, the membership renamed themselves the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

The first officers, as reported by Mary White Ovington, were:
- National President, Moorfield Storey, Boston
- Chairman of the Executive Committee, William English Walling
- Treasurer, John E. Milholland and Disbursing Treasurer, Oswald Garrison Villard
- Executive Secretary, Frances Blascoer
- Director of Publicity and Research, Dr. W. E. B. DuBois.
John E. Milholland, the NAACP's first Treasurer, was a Presbyterian from New York City and upstate Lewis, NY. He was a Lincoln Republican, with pride in his party's having abolished slavery and championed votes for all men regardless of color at the end of the Civil War. Milholland continued to champion the rights of black Americans to his death in 1926, long after his Republican party had ceased to care–the last election in which Republicans campaigned more aggressively than Democrats for progressive ideas like human rights was 1912.

Milholland's daughter Inez (who married my mother's uncle Eugen Boissevain) followed in her father's footsteps. She insisted that a delegation from Howard University be allowed to march in the 1913 woman suffrage parade in Washington. She died in 1916 after exhausting weeks on a whistle-stop tour of the west, campaigning against President Woodrow Wilson for not supporting the right of women to vote.

At a memorial for Inez in 1924, her father complained publicly about the absence of black people on the program, which was put together by the National Woman's Party.

On the centennial of their founding, the NAACP called for equity in distribution of stimulus funds.