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Eyes on the Prize
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National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

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Interior view of NAACP branch office in Detroit, Michigan, showing NAACP membership drive posters, 1940s.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was founded in 1909 in response not only to widespread lynchings of blacks in the South but also a dramatic 1908 lynching in the Great Emancipator Abraham Lincoln's hometown of Springfield, Illinois in the North. During the 1920s the NAACP developed as a mass organization, becoming the largest American civil rights group with numerous grassroots branches.

Over the years, the NAACP focused on desegregating schools and universities through the court system, winning the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954 and helping James Meredith integrate the University of Mississippi in 1962. Its members (including Rosa Parks) also challenged segregation in public accommodations, lobbied for civil rights legislation in Congress, and promoted voter registration throughout the South. For their activities, several NAACP members paid the ultimate price, including the organization's Mississippi field representative, Medgar Evers, who was assassinated in 1963.

Local NAACP leaders included pioneering figures ranging from Daisy Bates in Little Rock, Arkansas and Robert F. Williams in Monroe, North Carolina to Fred Hampton in Chicago, Illinois, Father James Groppi in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Ruth Batson in Boston, Massachusetts. The Youth Councils of the NAACP played a major role in the student wing of the freedom movement.

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Eyes on the Prize Blackside American Experience