Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has been at the helm of the American freedom struggle since the turn of the twentieth century. As the nation’s first racially integrated institution of its kind, the NAACP had a militant platform that demanded civil rights as well as educational and political equality for all Americans. Following the Springfield, Illinois, race riot of August 1908, an eminent interracial group of white progressives and black militants, including Niagara Movement founder W.E.B. Du Bois and member and social worker Mary White Ovington, sent out “The Call” for a national conference on black rights. The meeting was planned for the centennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, February 12, 1909. In May of the same year more than forty people attended the organization’s conference in New York and formed the National Negro Committee. During the group’s second conference, in May 1910, the organization was formally renamed the NAACP and incorporated the following year. Its mission was to promote equality, eradicate class and racial prejudice, and to advance the interest of colored citizens by securing truly universal suffrage, justice under the law, and education for all children.
Benjamin Todd Jealous was elected president of the NAACP in 2008, one hundred years after the organization was founded.