NAACP - Its Real Beginning & Its Real Purpose

Mary White Ovington
Mary White Ovington

Before we begin here with the creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), let's first dispel a few myths (created mainly by way of the Internet).

Myth 1. W.E.B Du Bios was the creator of the NAACP. Not true. Du Bois was a member of a Black quasi organization called the Niagara Movement - which was never legally incorporated. This quasi organization, which consisted of some prominent Black men, met a few times and expressed a desire, among other things, to have White people commit to race-nullification. It basically stopped meeting sometime before 1909. Du Bois had no firsthand input in the actual making of the NAACP organization. But he certainly did support its agenda.

Myth 2. Ida Wells was one of the founders of the NAACP. Not true. Her name never appeared as a member of the Executive Committee, or as a founding member either. Nor did she ever write anything in her journalism capacity for the NAACP i.e. she never worked for the NAACP.

Myth 3. The NAACP was inspired by Jews (specifically Henry Moskowitz). Not true. The NAACP was inspired by Mary White Ovington (member of the Unitarian Church). Additionally, no Jewish person was listed among the original Executive Committee members.

Myth 4. The NAACP was created to ensure that people of African descent received their civil rights in America. Not true. There were no federal civil rights laws in America from 1883 to 1957.


Okay, let's get started with how the NAACP was really created and it's intended purpose.

1. The Beginning: In 1908, a White female social worker by the name of Mary White Ovington claimed to have read an article written by William English Walling describing a recent race riot in Springfield, Ill.. Based on this article, according to Miss Ovington, she became inspired to create an organization that would help those of African descent in America achieve more political representation and economic security.

On Feb. 12, 1909, Miss Ovington (she was a lifelong spinster), along with Oswald Garrison Villard and William English Walling (both White males and Christians) sent out a "Call" letter to everyone they believed would be supportive of an organization that would provide Blacks a new direction: integration.

By May 1910 the future NAACP organizers held two conferences in New York City. Without question, the purpose of the first conference, which was attended by many Blacks, was a desire on the part of the White organizers to see if Blacks would be receptive to the new integration agenda; and, perhaps more importantly, would not protest against the societal anomaly they were suggesting to create. After all, racial integration was a complete contradiction to what did exist in 1910; and Blacks, since 1865, had never protested against the "separate" living arrangements. (Note: no record that I'm aware of exists of the NAACP first conference telling us which prominent Black men/women attended, or how many Blacks attended).

Following the first conference, which did allay worries of its White organizers against Black resistance, the next conference was used to choose the name of the new organization, develop an organizational strategy for racial integration and choose its executive board members.

(Mary W. Ovington's original name for the NAACP was 'The 'National Committee for the Advancement of the Negro People')

2. The Purpose:
Thus was borne the concept of racial integration, something never before practiced or even conceived of in human history. 1

Not surprisingly, when the new and revolutionary NAACP was launched, even though it was created and run by White people, it wasn't in any way popular among the numerically and culturally dominant White population. In fact, the agenda was steadfastly rejected by the group. However, this attitude among the White population was likely rooted in simple and logically sound reasoning, that Blacks, being a distinct people, should be separate and thereby achieve self-reliance, which would produce a feeling of empowerment as a people (Booker T. Washington's desire and pursuit). NOTE: Philanthropists in the White community at that time also believed Blacks should be separate and a self-reliant people, and therefore would not offer financial help to the NAACP in its formative years.2

How The NAACP Pursued It's Integration Agenda:: Since the separation of the races was so deep-seated within the White community, and it was the White population that had created all the urban centers, all the industries, and likely not a single White male in America was employed by a Black man in 1910, it certainly had to be very clear to the organizers of the NAACP that there was no quid pro quo to entice White males to accept racial integration on their own volition. Naturally, given these existing circumstances, using persuasive measures such as literature and speeches to try to convince the White population from coast to coast (including the South) that integration was beneficial to them and they should just voluntarily submit to it, would appear to be a Herculean task necessitating far more in financial resources than the meager funds of NAACP. Therefore, the NAACP settled on a much more economically practical strategy, which was to use the judicial system (judicial activism) to strike down those laws which apparently allowed for racial separation (i.e. allowed the White population to keep Black males out of what White males regarded as their political and economic arenas).

Historical Correction: It is often stated that the NAACP was created because of the 1908 Springfield, Ill. riot.3 This riot, which was initiated by White males against the city's Black population (the riot's flashpoint was the death of a White male, who found a Black male intruder in his daughter's bedroom, gave chase and was killed during a struggle). It was clearly an ugly riot and surely the White population did desire to drive the Blacks from the city. Two Blacks were lynched (the number of Blacks lynched by White males - perhaps intentionally - equaled the number of White people killed by Back males in the previous few days). However, using this riot as the basis to launch an organization advocating integration of the races, and where White people had demonstrated, in general, such a ubiquitous hostile attitude to the presence of the Black race, just doesn't sound logical.

The most likely reason for using the Springfield riot is that Springfield was the recognized birthplace of President Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, and the White organizers of the NAACP were hoping Blacks would equate emancipation with integration. NOTE: Mary White Ovington and William English Walling where both very staunch socialists, and also very much involved in the socialist movement in America at that time. In fact, Mr. Walling wrote many books on the socialist movement: LINK

Mr. DuBois' Contribution: When the NAACP's Executive Committee was created in 1910 (with this committee rested all the power and decision making), only one member of this committee was a Negro: W.E.B. DuBois. Mr. DuBois was given the title of director of publicity and research, and his main duty was to be editor of the Crisis magazine (Miss Ovington's own recounting of the making of the NAACP, she implies she persuaded DuBois to join the organization after it was already established). W.E.B. DuBois does deserve all the credit for disseminating through the Crisis the new concept of integration among the Black race; and creating the belief in the mind of particularly the urban Negro that he should seek integration rights into another male group's established society. By 1917, most northern urban black newspapers were following the lead of the Crisis ... and also demanding that integration was a legitimate pursuit among their people. Of further note...Dubois joined the socialist party in 1911.



1. W.E.B. DuBois' Niagara Movement (1905 to 1909), never became an actual organization but rather consisted of a number of prominent Black men. who gathered on three (some say four, some say five) separate occasions and did issue a statement demanding that White Americans commit to race-nullification, among other things. The three meetings between 1906 and 1909 produced nothing substantive in improving the prospect of race-nullification from the White population.

2. According to the book "The Chronological History of the Negro", because of a complete lack of funds the NAACP's first four years were devoted almost exclusively to reporting on and lodging complaints about lynching - through the Crisis - and on opening new branches in cities outside of New York City.

3. Mary White Ovington claimed she read an article written by William English Walling. She then claimed she contacted Mr. Walling and invited him to New York City to talk about creating an organization to help blacks. At the arranged meeting was also Henry Moskowitz, which Miss Ovington credits with giving her insightful recommendation. The future NAACP moved forward from there.

More by this Author

Comments 13 comments

jxb7076 profile image

jxb7076 6 years ago from United States of America

I may be incorrect but I thought the original intent of the NAACP was about equality and human dignity - not integration. Blacks wanted a seemless assimulation into the social fabric of America based on that part of the Declaration of Independence which suggested that "All Men are Created Equal". This was somewhat guranteed them by fighting against the Brittish for Independence, as well as the Civil War.

Nevertheless, thanks for the history lesson. I learned a lot.

S Leretseh profile image

S Leretseh 6 years ago Author


“I may be incorrect but I thought the original intent of the NAACP was about equality and human dignity - not integration”

Doesn’t this statement presuppose that it is not the black man that is the source of his own equality, or even his own dignity?

The fact is, Jxab, you (your race) is the source - the only source- for however your people want to define “achieving dignity and equality”. These attributes are within your group. They cannot be bestowed on you by another people.

Regarding the Declaration of Independence, and the subsequent war for independence, it was fought for, and for the exclusive benefit of, white Christian males (again, this is completely consistent with the DMG Theorem).

“All Men are Created Equal”

Jefferson wrote these words to address the issue of the English aristocracy, who claimed privileges solely based on birth right. This phrase had nothing to do with race. It had to do with people who claimed the right to permanently fix members of their own group (the DMG) to a subordinate status. In other words, members of the aristocracy ruled and were given opportunities to earn wealth based on their birth. But it had always been that way. All societies in Europe (including Russia) were run by an aristocracy. Well, the white Christian males in America decided to defy history. Bully for them. They won the war, claimed land and established their society, where no one had birth rights to power and privileges. But this concept did not extend to the Negro race. The organizing Document the American Founding Fathers created was for ONE people, ONE male group (white, Christian males). In other words, equality (as it was loosely defined) was only meant to exist with the confines of America’s Dominate Male Group (white Christian males).

James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

This is truly fascinating material. I learned a lot and you provoked much thought in my mind about these issues. Thank you for the illumination.

FacebookProfessor 4 years ago

S Leretseh,

I find it hard to believe someone with your ability to discern between historical truth and common historical misrepresentations of facts would somehow find it difficult to comprehend both the meaning and factual historical relevance in the statement posed by Jxb7076.

Your failure to acknowledge the historical relevance of his statement in addition to your subsequent retort leads the reader to come to 1 of 2 conclusions:

1. Since the author of this valuable material is one who purports to be only interested in shedding light on topics that have been marred by historical inaccuracies, the miscomprehension of Jxb7076's point coupled with the subsequent question posted--a question that would never have been posed by one who is to be considered a historical truth teller--was simply a mistake...a mistake due to a lack of understanding. (due to the tone and content of your response to Jxb7076, I think it is safe to conclude that this isn't the case). OR

2. Assuming that you are the true author of this informative material, it can then be established that you are seemingly well versed on the historical truths untruths(ie: NAACP and it's founding intent) regarding the quest for equality among blacks. So, taking the preceding information as fact, It can be said that you FULLY understood Jxb7076's point (or intended point), and that you willfully chose to ignore it's merit and by doing so, discounted the countless historical facts (facts that I am more than sure you are aware )that would support Jxb7076's argument(or atleast his intended argument)---of.

Sure, I could spend all day speculating as to why you chose this course of action, but as with any attempt to justify the fatuous behavior of men, this would be an exercise in futility.

S Leretseh profile image

S Leretseh 4 years ago Author

"Had the black man not been segragated,"

Two distinct people living separate was the established norm not only in American history but human history. There were many good sound reasons white people believed back then to keep the races separate. At the top of the list was to allow the black race to achieve self-reliance and thereby develop a culture of their own. Second, the enormous crime problem associated with the male group.

The black man, lured by white socialist, demanded integration (starting in the late 50s). Admittedly, their own male group was completely incapable of sustaining itself in the Anglo-created urban environments. The black man's own innate characteristics denied to him the capacity to generate occupations and therefore distribute resources within the confines of his own male group. However, lack of a capacity to generate occupations should not hv in any way eliminated or mitigated the necessity of the black race in America to be a self-reliant people. It was something most white people wanted for this male group. African Americans never, collectively, achieved it. African Americans are they only people in all of human history never to have achieved a state of self-reliance. And white American socialist have been, and continue to be, damned determined to make sure this self-reliance condition -the fervent goal of Booker T. Washington - never does materialize.

Mary Neal 3 years ago

NAACP President Ben Jealous refuses to respond to reporters about the protest against the civil rights organization (held on the anniversary of MLK's assassination) during which protesters called the organization a sold-out annex of the Democratic Party that is opposed to the interests of African Americans.

See videos from the April 3-4, 2013 protests against the NAACP in Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland

The NAACP Image Awards was picketed, also.

Mary Neal

3 years ago

If the NAACP was created by whites its an organization lacking of a foundations. like it or not whites do not know what's best for blacks any more then blacks know what is best for whites. we have been segregating are self's across the world not just this country for that reason. blacks would be better off in Africa and whites in Europa.

platinumOwl4 profile image

platinumOwl4 3 years ago

This is a magnificent article, it should be read by more Africans in America. Then some long head falsehood could be eradicated. Again, excellent article.

S Leretseh profile image

S Leretseh 3 years ago Author

platinumOwl4 , thank you for your kind words. I've yet to visit your site. I'll do so today.

kay 2 years ago

The NAACP was created because of the unfair, unjust, unequal, and brutal treatment of a people merely because of their differences and the color of their skin. We most be very careful of taking in information without investigating their source. Be mindful of what you accept as truth, be diligent in obtaining the entire truth before relying solely on one or two view points.

S Leretseh profile image

S Leretseh 2 years ago Author

Kay's drivel should be ignored. Blacks were NOT being treated unfairly, unjustly, unequally, or in any brutal fashion...simply because white males wanted a color line. Such hyperbole only comes from left wing socialist and/or liberals. Blacks, prior to 1964, and as I've stated so, so many times, were suppose to be separate ...and thereby achieve self-reliance as a distinct people. Blacks self-reliance, of course, never happened. No people in human history ever owed another people integration rights. What a magnanimous gift the black race received when their compulsory integration rights - AKA civil rights laws - were granted to them by the most generous people in human history - white Christian males. Civil rights was NOT about "equal" rights. It was about integration rights...into the social stratification system of another male group. Imagine white males marching over to an Indian tribe in the early 1700s ... then DEMANDING integration rights into that Indian tribe's male hierarchy i.e. it's social stratification system. Laughable, right? Well, this is EXACTLY what white Christian males faced in the early 60s.

Torger 17 months ago

"I will stand with anyone, I don't care what color you are, as long as you want to change the miserable condition that exists on this earth."- Malcolm X

Michael Cummings 16 months ago

The NAACP is founded to support, administrate, & conduct racism. God bless Dr Martin Luther King who know to examine the conduct of a person's character not the color of their skin. This is also, consequently, the opposite of what i hear: That the good (Republican) Dr's dreams were realized when racism elected BHO.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.

    Click to Rate This Article