|Web Magazine Online|
|By Ikuko Kiriyama|
NAACP: The Fight Against Racial Inequality
The NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People founded in 1909 in New York City, is the oldest, largest and strongest Civil Rights organization in the United States. The principle objective of the NAACP is to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of minority group citizens of the United States. Although I have known about the existence of the organization and have heard about some of its contributions , I was quite unfamiliar with specific data about this organization. From my past studies of African American and books and topics, I have often heard about the NAACP, so I always sought the opportunity to find out more information about this group. Therefore, this assignment was a great opportunity for me. Because I had no idea which book I should look for to investigate the NAACP, I chose the Internet to gain the information. The NAACP has a well-organized web site with information about its history, current activities and even a membership application. Through the search, I learned several new things which surprised me.
I had regarded the NAACP as an organization only for African Americans because this organization concentrates on Civil Rights. In my mind, the Civil Rights Movement only refers to African Americans and not other minorities. This is totally my misunderstanding. The word "minority" includes all ethnic groups that seek equal opportunity and rights in this country. I was ashamed of my lack of knowledge but it was really good to correct my misperception.
The next thing which amazed me was the number of its branches. The NAACP is a network of more than 2,200 branches covering all 50 states. The NAACP serves people at the local level by responding to the demand of citizens for action on issues. The NAACP has branches even in Japan. Los Angeles Chapter is the one of the branches. It was formed in 1914 in the home of Drs. John and Vada Somerville, both graduates of the University of Southern California School of Dentistry and active leaders in the affairs of the Black Community. The focus of this chapter is opposing racial discrimination and second-class treatment of the city's Black citizens, and serving as the principal political leadership in the Black community. The benefit the NAACP provides for the community is clear, especially around the theme of education. For example, in 1932, in the aftermath of an earthquake which damaged Los Angeles public schools, the branch filed a successful lawsuit against the Monrovia School Board to force them to give black students the same opportunity as white students who were allowed to enroll in that city's schools until Los Angeles schools could reopen. Today, the branch continues to support the programs and policies of the NAACP with aggressive action at the local level.
NAACP is committed to achievement through nonviolence and relies upon the press, the petition, the ballot and the court, and is persistent in the use of legal and moral persuasion. In my opinion, this attitude clearly provides children with a model showing how minorities can fight inequality.
(Ikuko Kiriyama is a junior from Japan.)