This Day in Black History: May 31, 1909

This Day in Black History: May 31, 1909

The National Negro Committee, later known as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, held its first conference in New York City.

Published May 31, 2013

On May 31, 1909, the National Negro Committee, an influential group of leaders for social change, held its first meeting in New York City. The organization would later become known as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

In early 1909, a group of white liberals including journalist Mary White Ovington issued a call for for a national conference to discuss the social and political inequalities facing African-Americans. W.E B. DuBois, Ida B. Wells-Barnett and Mary Church Terrell were among the group of 60 thought leaders in attendance on Feb. 12, 1909 (also commemorating President Abraham Lincoln's birthday).

The first official meeting of what would be called the National Negro Committee was held on May 31, 1909, in New York City, with 300 men and women, both Black and white, in attendance. The following year, the committee organized a permanent body to be known as the NAACP.

Today, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization, gaining prominence in the 1950s and '60s during the civil rights movement. It remains an active body for advocating the equal rights of all people, with more than 500 million supporters in the United States and around the world, according to its website.

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(Photo: Public Domain)

Written by Britt Middleton


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