National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) go to audio

Founded in 1909 by a group of influential whites hoping to counter the influence of Booker T. Washington and his supporters, the NAACP sought to bring about legal solutions to America's race problems. Influential members like Charles Hamilton Houston, W.E.B. Du Bois, Charles Spingarn, and Thurgood Marshall turned this once tiny organization into what eventually became a litigating powerhouse. State Stallworth, a former NAACP president on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, noted that he "wouldn't dare put marching and singing with litigation." He explained that it was "all right for a little fellow down the street [to integrate] an ice cream parlor, but when you're talking about integrating banks, unions, industries, discrimination in schools, marching and singing ain't going to get it." During his tenure as president of the Gulf Coast NAACP, he met with Thurgood Marshall, who insisted that if blacks were not willing to go to court then they shouldn't be wasting his time. Indeed it was the NAACP's litigious character that made it difficult for many to join. This was especially the case for teachers, who of course, relied on white administrators for their livelihoods. Hobert Kornegay, a NAACP activist in Meridian, noted that in most cases "a teacher couldn't belong to the NAACP during that time and if they did, they'd have to use some other name. They'd give the money, but they'd use some other name." Otherwise they'd lose their job. For this reason, many NAACP members did their work in secret. NAACP activist and Pascagoula resident Franzetta Sanders summed up the difference between her group and the more militant organizations like SNCC and CORE. She noted that the other groups "lived among the community people and were involved with them, but we [NAACP] were more on the conservative side. Our philosophy was "let's negotiate, and do this like one, two, three, four, five, because we've got to know what we're going to do, and we've got to do it the way we're supposed to do it." That's the kind of summer [1964] that was because they were on one side and we were on the other. We would say "OK. Now look y'all. We need to think this out and do it this way because you can get hurt. You can disappear and we won't see you again." But they more or less did whatever they were here to do, and they were welcomed in the community. But at the same time we were busy doing what we were doing. And like I said we both were working toward the same goals," only with different tactics. Despite these differences, the NAACP made inroads into nearly every black community in the state.

Its success had become so widespread that in the mid-1950s, the state of Mississippi banned the organization from operating within its borders. Despite this ban, courageous leaders like Aaron Henry and Medgar Evers continued to bring in recruits and to speak out against injustices in the state. While an uncounted number of its members and supporters were fired from their jobs, run out of town, or killed for their organizing work, the NAACP was able to win a number of lawsuits in the areas of education, voter registration, and employment practices, among others.

audioClick on the play button to hear the following excerpt.     Total time:   41 seconds
Well, we had a problem that our professionals, the teachers and so forth, they was really afraid to get into it on account of they thought that they might lose their jobs, and a few of the people that was working in the factories, they was kind of skeptical. But we didn't have too many people working that really had a job that they had to be afraid of, you know, just like, working in home, picking cottin, and all like that. But you had some people just afriad, period. Think they're going to get their house bombed, or burned up, or something like that, and it was kind of hard to get a whole lot of them involved in it.
audioClick on the play button to hear the following excerpt. 
                                                                                                                          Total time: 28 seconds
I figured that my freedom was more important than worrying about a job or something like that. And so I just really got involved in it, and it wasn't hardly a day passed that some time I'd be on the top of a house, and some incident happened, and I just had to quit work and go see about that or this, and so, I was putting more time in the movement than I was on my job.

-- -- Walter Bruce, a Durant, Miss. native, became a civil rights activist in 1964. He eventually became chair of the Holmes County Freedom Democratic Party.

audioClick on the play button to hear the following excerpt.     Total time:  28 seconds
We proved in that suit [against Ingalls Shipyard] the only criteria was, to get a good job, was to be white. Education had nothing to do with it because we had blacks finish high school. We had blacks had college experience. We had blacks with college education, working under the supervision of whites, finished third grade. Couldn't fill out time cards.

-- State Stallworth, from Beatrice, Ala., was an active union member at International Paper Company in Pascagoula, Miss. He later joined the NAACP and became the president of the local chapter.