NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE. Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was the most prominent civil rights* organization in the United States during the twentieth century. Eleanor Roosevelt became involved with the NAACP around 1934, as the organization expanded its lobbying activity in Washington, and remained associated with the NAACP until her death in 1962.
There is little evidence of exactly how and when ER developed an interest in race relations and civil rights. Indeed, as biographer Blanche Wiesen Cook has observed, ER “began her public career steeped in the sensibilities of the Old South, filled with distorted and ugly images of blacks” (Cook, 6). Her engagement with racial issues, however, was clearly an outgrowth of her fundamental commitment to human dignity and social justice and the efforts of NAACP executive secretary Walter White* to cultivate the First Lady’s interest and support. During the early years of the New Deal,* ER developed a bond with White, as well as several other black civil rights activists, particularly Mary McLeod Bethune* and, later, Pauli Murray.* Moreover, the democratic rhetoric and reform initiatives of the New Deal engaged the hopes and aspirations of African Americans throughout the nation. Their appeals for fair treatment found a receptive proponent in ER.
During the 1930s the NAACP succeeded in drawing national attention to lynching as the most revealing symbol of the lawlessness, terror, and political impotence endured by African Americans in the Jim Crow South. The association had been lobbying for antilynching* legislation since the early 1920s. With the New Deal and the expansion of federal power into many areas of national life, the NAACP intensified its efforts to secure federal action against lynching. ER became a primary focus of