NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE (NAACP) was founded in 1909 by W.E.B. Du Bois to advance the cause of African Americans in the United States. The organization has played a significant role in the Civil Rights movement. It was committed to the Niagara Movement platform, calling for equality and civil rights. It pursued its goals through legislation and in the legal system. The organization successfully challenged the white primary in federal court. One of the organization's most notable accomplishments was its challenge of the "separate but equal" language in Plessy v. Ferguson ( 1898) in the Supreme Court. It won a great victory with the landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education ( 1954), which ruled that separate educational facilities were unconstitutional.
The NAACP has continued to be a major political voice for African Americans. After some organizational and financial problems in the early 1990s, it reestablished its role in 1995, with the election of Kweisi Mfume as president of the NAACP. Mfume was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Baltimore, and had served as the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus. It is expected that he will resolve the organization's financial problems and give a sharper focus to the organization's mission. Mfume has put a voter empowerment program high on the NAACP's agenda. Voter empowerment is a threepronged effort of registration, education, and participation. The NAACP was involved in a massive voter registration drive in 1996. Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole created a controversy when he turned down an invitation to speak to the NAACP's 1996 annual convention. See:BLACK VOTING.