African American Odyssey Introduction | Overview | Object List

Exhibit Sections:
Slavery | Free Blacks | Abolition | Civil War | Reconstruction
Booker T. Washington Era | WWI-Post War | The Depression-WWII | Civil Rights Era |

The Booker T. Washington Era

Part 1
Part 2: Lynching Crusade | Organizing for Civil Rights

Lynching Crusade

Crusade Against Lynching

Established by the NAACP in 1916 to develop an effective program to stamp out lynching, the Anti-lynching Committee developed legislative and public awareness campaigns. In 1919 the NAACP published Thirty Years of Lynching in the United States, 1889-1918. This report indicated that 3,224 people were lynched in the thirty-year period. Of these, 702 were white and 2,522 black. Among the justifications given for the lynchings were petty offenses such as "using offensive language, refusal to give up land, illicit distilling."

The Committee also compiled lynching statistics in 1921. It took full-page advertisements on November 23, 1922, in The New York Times, The Atlanta Constitution, and several other leading newspapers entitled "The Shame of America," with the subheading "3436 People Lynched 1889 to 1922."

Image: Caption follows

Report of Anti-lynching Committee, January 21, 1921.
Transcript.
NAACP Collection, Manuscript Division. (7-7)
Courtesy of the NAACP


Woman Journalist Crusades Against Lynching
Ida B. Wells-Barnett.
Lynch Law in Georgia.
Chicago: Anti-Lynching Bureau, 1890.
Daniel A.P. Murray Pamphlet Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division. (6-11)

Ida B. Wells-Barnett, the fiery journalist, lecturer and civil rights militant, is best known for her tireless crusade against lynching and her fearless efforts to expose violence against blacks. Catapulted emotionally into the cause after two of her friends were lynched in Tennessee, and after the destruction of her presses, Wells-Barnett never stopped fighting for justice. She encouraged church groups and women's clubs to be more aggressive in demanding political and civil rights and helped to create a number of national organizations--including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People--that would strengthen awareness of racial issues.


Organizing for Civil Rights

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People--The Call
Image: caption follows
National Negro Committee.
A call for a national conference, 1909.
NAACP Collection, Manuscript Division. (6-9a)
Courtesy of the NAACP.

In January 1909 an interracial group assembled at the New York apartment of William English Walling to discuss proposals for an organization that would advocate the civil and political rights of African Americans. To garner support, the group decided to issue a call for a national conference on the centennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, February 12, 1909.

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William G. Walling to Ray Stannard Baker, February 6, 1909.
Typed letter.
NAACP Collection, Manuscript Division. (6-9b)
Courtesy of the NAACP.

Written by Oswald Garrison Villard, the "Call" was sent to a number of prominent white and black Americans for endorsement. Among the sixty signers of the Call were Jane Addams, John Dewey, W.E.B. DuBois, Mary Church Terrell, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Francis J. Grimke, and Ray Stannard Baker.


National Association for the Advancement of Colored People--Platform
Image: Caption follows
Platform adopted by the National Negro Committee, 1909.
Document.
NAACP Collection, Manuscript Division. (6-8)
Courtesy of the NAACP.

Even though Booker T. Washington called for reconciliation between the races, the period of his ascendancy as a leader was one of tremendous racial violence toward African Americans in various parts of the United States, but especially in the South. After a terrible race riot in Springfield, Illinois, in August 1908, an interracial group, comprised mainly of whites, but with a few prominent African Americans, met in 1909 to form an organization that was soon named the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. The organizational goals were the abolition of segregation, discrimination, disenfranchisement, and racial violence, particularly lynching. The "first and immediate steps" of the organization are listed at the bottom of the document.


Formation of the National Urban League
Committee on Urban Conditions among Negroes, Minutes of the First Meeting.
New York, N.Y., September 29, 1910.
National Urban League Collection, Manuscript Division. (6-22)
Courtesy of the National Urban League

After the turn of the century the distribution of the African American population shifted dramatically, as thousands migrated from the rural South to the urban North in search of better economic, social, and political opportunities. The Committee on Urban Conditions among Negroes was founded in 1910 by a coalition of progressive black and white professionals. The following year the Committee merged with two other interracial social welfare agencies in New York to form the National League on Urban Conditions among the Negroes, later known as the National Urban League. The League's principal goal was to promote the improvement of "industrial, economic, social, and spiritual conditions among Negroes" in the cities. The League helped migrants and other urban blacks to find jobs and housing and sponsored training and other programs.


"A Man Was Lynched Yesterday"
Image: Caption follows
A Man Was Lynched Yesterday.
Flag flying above Fifth Avenue, New York City, ca. 1938. Copyprint.
NAACP Collection, Prints and Photographs Division.
Reproduction Number: LC-USZC4-4734/LC-USZ62-33793 (6-10b)
Courtesy of the NAACP

At its headquarters, 69 Fifth Avenue, New York City, the NAACP flew a flag to report lynchings, until, in 1938, the threat of losing its lease forced the association to discontinue the practice.


The Booker T. Washington Era:   Part 1 | Part 2

Exhibit Sections:
Slavery | Free Blacks | Abolition | Civil War | Reconstruction
Booker T. Washington Era | WWI-Post War | The Depression-WWII | Civil Rights Era |

African American Odyssey Introduction | Overview | Object List