76 Years of Activism
Last Friday, the NAACP celebrated the 76th anniversary of its Youth & College Division, created in 1936. The division serves as the premier institution for young people to develop the skills they need to meet various challenges that face African Americans and other young people of color. NAACP youth units across the country engage in social justice activism, addressing issues at the local, state and national level, with a primary focus on education, economic development, health, juvenile justice and voter empowerment.
The Youth & College Division’s legacy of activism has been strongly evidenced through the struggles, sacrifices and achievements of youth and young adult leaders throughout its 76 year history. This photo timeline pays tribute to our past, present and future.
1938: The Montclair, New Jersey Youth Council were featured in The Crisis Magazine in the 1938 October issue.
1949: Throughout the forties and fifties, the Sarah Lawrence chapter of the NAACP took an active role in promoting civil rights. In 1958, Sarah Lawrence NAACP members descended upon Washington, D.C. to participate in the Youth March for Integrated Schools and sponsored a “Panel of Americans” discussion later that year – a “teach-in” designed to promote diversity.
1952-1956: Autherine Lucy was the first African American to be enrolled at the University of Alabama, in 1952. When school administrators found out her race, she was denied admittance but was reenrolled in 1956 after a three-year court battle. Her case was supported by NAACP attorney (US Supreme Court Justice), Thurgood Marshall. Autherine Lucy courageously sacrificed for all students of color to attend the University of Alabama.
1950s: One of the first major battles of the Baltimore Branch NAACP was to champion the cause of many black teachers in public schools who received lesser salaries than their white counterparts. The NAACP fought for equal pay, equal facilities for learning, and equal teacher-training programs. The backdrop of this particular protest, Frederick Douglass High School, was established in 1883 as the Colored High and Training School and is the second oldest historically integrated high school in the U.S. Prior to desegregation, it was one of only two high schools open to black students. Baltimore NAACP Young Adult members are seen here picketing these unequal educational opportunities.
1958: Oklahoma City and Wichita, Kansas Youth Council members participated in the first lunch counter sit-ins to protest segregation. They were threatened with beatings, but held fast and won their battles, laying the groundwork for a movement that would spread across the country.
1961: On February 9, 1961, a group of African American students from Male and Central high schools (members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Louisville NAACP Youth Council) staged a sit-in at the lunch counter of Louisville’s largest department store, Stewart’s Dry Goods. In the weeks that followed, demonstrations were organized at other department stores, theaters, and the Blue Boar cafeterias (seen in this photo). As the demonstrations ramped up throughout the spring, supportive adults started working with the students to help them organize and facilitate trainings in non-violent resistance.
1965: Demonstrators (including the Philadelphia Youth Council) picket Girard College in protest of the school's segregationist admissions policy.
1970s: Waterbury, CT Youth Council members are seen here at the PRIDE Youth Center in Waterbury, CT. (Photo Credit: Mattatuck Museum African American History Project)
1976: The East St. Louis Youth Council is seen here in 1976. During the sixties and seventies, the East St. Louis Youth Council worked to increase positive media and community representation for young African-Americans in East St. Louis, MO.
2008: Hundreds of college students traveled throughout the south to generate excitement among young adults and other non-traditional voters leading into the November 4 general elections. Bus tour participants, many who were new to the political process, went door-to door to provide accurate voter information and dispel rumors about the voting process.
2010: Youth march through Raliegh, North Carolina protesting the Wake County School Board plan to resegregate the public school system.
2011: On December 10, 2011 – The NAACP, in conjunction with dozens of civil, labor, and human rights organizations from across the country took a “Stand for Freedom” in New York City and protested the attack on voting rights. Youth and Young Adult members are seen here marching in solidarity.
2012: Will you lend your voice and talents to ensure that the NAACP Youth & College Division remains a dynamic and enduring force in the NAACP? Join Now!