First and foremost, this book is dedicated to the tens of thousands of African Americans who placed their lives on the line to confront and defeat the cruel and oppressive forces of Jim Crow.
They are the true heroes of our nation's long struggle to attain civil rights for every citizen.
The public face of the civil rights struggle was necessarily the leadership, national and local, of the NAACP and its sister organizations. This book, hopefully one of many, pays tribute to the unparalleled assemblage of stellar leaders during the NAACP's first six decades, many of whom I was fortunate enough to count as friends and colleagues. They include Roy Wilkins, Walter White, Thurgood Marshall, John Morsell, Robert L. Carter, William Hastie, Charles Hamilton Houston, Charles and Medgar Evers, Kivie Kaplan, Henry Lee Moon, Buell Gallagher, Herbert Hill, Gloster Current, Julian Bond, June Sha-galoff Alexander, Daisy Bates, Alfred B. Lewis, Clarence Mitchell, Ruby Hurley, Ralph J. Bunche, Vernon Jordan, Mildred B. Roxbor-ough, Matthew Perry, Nathaniel Jones, Franklin Williams, James Farmer, Richard McClain, Robert C. Weaver, and Aaron Henry. No private American association has even come close to assembling such luminous leadership. Folk wisdom has it that each constituency receives the leadership it deserves. The foregoing list is indeed a reflection of the vast but devoted and disciplined membership of the NAACP during the years of its greatest struggles.