Minnesota Values Shaped Civil-Rights Leader Roy Wilkins

By Fitzgerald, John | MinnPost.com, January 18, 2013 | Go to article overview

Minnesota Values Shaped Civil-Rights Leader Roy Wilkins


Fitzgerald, John, MinnPost.com


Among those who know the history of the American civil-rights movement, Roy Wilkins' name ranks up there with Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Wilkins was a contemporary of all three and led the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) during the greatest civil-rights advancements in United States history.

On Jan. 20, 1967, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Wilkins the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In the Twin Cities, where he grew up, his name adorns an arena in St. Paul and a dorm on the University of Minnesota campus, and not much else.

"Unfortunately, the vast majority of students I confront in the 21st century have no clue about who Wilkins was or what he accomplished," said Samuel L. Myers, Jr., the Roy Wilkins Professor of Human Relations and Social Justice and the director of the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. In an email response to questions about Wilkins, Myers said "few if any of the undergraduates I have interviewed for research positions at the Wilkins Center are able to answer this simple question: 'Who was Roy Wilkins?' "

Who was Roy Wilkins? He was born in St. Louis and grew up in his aunt and uncle's home in a low-income, integrated community in St. Paul. He graduated in 1923 with a degree in sociology from the U of M, where he also worked on The Minnesota Daily. After graduation, he worked at a small St. Paul newspaper, the Northwest Bulletin, and later became editor of St. Paul Appeal, an African-American newspaper. He later became the editor of the Kansas City Call.

Leader of NAACP

In 1934, Wilkins succeeded W. E. B. DuBois as editor of the NAACP's magazine, The Crisis. He was named acting executive secretary of the NAACP in 1949. In 1955, Wilkins was named the NAACP's executive secretary (the title was later changed to executive director). One of his first actions was to provide support to civil-rights activists in Mississippi who were being subjected to a "credit squeeze" by members of the White Citizens Councils. Wilkins backed a plan in which black businesses and voluntary associations shifted their accounts to the black-owned Tri-State Bank of Memphis. By the end of 1955, about $280,000 had been deposited in Tri-State, which allowed the bank to extend loans to blacks who were denied loans by white banks.

Wilkins participated in the March on Washington in 1963, the Selma-to-Montgomery marches in 1965 and the March Against Fear in 1966. He often testified before congressional hearings and conferred with Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter. During his tenure, the NAACP spearheaded efforts that led to civil-rights victories, including Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Wilkins fervently opposed the more militant factions of the civil- rights movement, arguing instead for legislative action. Myers said this belief can be traced to Wilkins' Minnesota roots.

"He specifically embraced integration as the route toward dismantling racial discrimination and segregation," Myers said. "His experience working closely with whites, such as on the editorial board of the Minnesota Daily, provided him with a unique set of experiences and insights that perhaps he would not have had if he faced stark segregation in his formative years. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Minnesota Values Shaped Civil-Rights Leader Roy Wilkins
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.