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Presidential Studies Quarterly, Summer 1998 | Go to article overview

News Notes


New Parts in UPA'S Papers of the NAACP Document Origins of 1960s Militancy and Depth of Grassroots Activity

The newest segments in UPA's microfilm series, Papers of the NAACP, document the NAACP's 1950s youth program role in 1960s civil rights militancy and the strength of the organization's local and regional networks.

Part 19: Youth File, Series D: 1956-1965 Youth Department Files details the NAACP's growth in the years after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education. The surge of political action among both black and white young people revolutionized American race relations.

In contrast to the NAACP's conservative reputation, these recently released files show that the organization's youth membership played a central role in "direct action" events throughout the United States during the 1960s. The NAACP not only took part in traditional political activism, such as voter registration and community organization, but also spearheaded then-unconventional strategies, such as sit-ins, demonstrations, and boycotts.

The youth movement also formed coalitions with other organizations, including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Congress for Racial Equally. Together, these groups created a culture of militant activism that strongly influenced American politics in the second half of the twentieth century.

Part 25: Branch Department Files consists of the reports and correspondence from the NAACP regional field personnel and the activities of hundreds of local branches. These documents provide a panoramic view of the national surge in grassroots civil rights activism.

Series A: Regional Files and Special Reports, 1941-1955 details the expansion of the organization by the national branch director, Gloster Current. Current set up regional offices to provide local NAACP leaders with access to legal staff, conduct leadership training, increase membership, raise money and publicize local NAACP work. Local branches were also guided toward the NAACP's national program and away from affiliations with communist and other competing organizations.

Series A also depicts how the NAACP worked on the front lines of the civil rights movement, protesting housing segregation and employment discrimination, especially in the North. The Southern regional files contain extensive biographical detail about some of the association's greatest Southern leaders, including Roscoe Dunjee of Oklahoma, Lulu White and A. Maceo Smith of Texas, Harry T. Moore of Florida, W. C. Patton of Alabama, A. P. Tureaud of Louisiana, and Ruby Hurley of Georgia.

Series B: Regional Files and Special Reports, 1956-1965 documents the prominence of NAACP local branches in the political activism of the period. The records cover hundreds of local cases inspired by the Brown decision, voter turnout drives, campaigns for local fair housing and fair employment statutes, efforts to influence policies of local boards of education and local housing authorities, pressuring of local congressmen to support federal civil rights legislation, and episodes of picketing, boycotts, and demonstrations.

Part 19: Youth File Series D: 1956-1965, Youth Department Files is available on 35 mm microfilm (twenty reels) for $2,755. Part 25: Branch Department Files, Series A: Regional Files and Special Reports, 1941-1955 is available on approximately twenty-three reels of 35 mm microfilm for $3,170 (tentative) and Series B: Regional Files and Special Reports, 1956-1965 on approximately eighteen reels of 35 mm microfilm for $2,480 (tentative). …

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