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NAACP Papers: The NAACP's Major Campaigns—Education, Voting, Housing, Employment, Armed Forces
Major campaigns for equal access to education, voting, employment, housing and the military are covered in this module. The education files in this module document the NAACP’s systematic assault on segregated education that culminated in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. Files from 1955 –1965 focus on the NAACP’s efforts to implementthe Brown decision as well as to combat de facto segregation outside of the South.
Supreme Court decision in Buchanan v. Warley, Louisville, Kentucky residential segregation case (1915)
This landmark case pioneered the NAACP strategy of using local branch attorneys to initiate proceedings, while the national office provided advice at the initial stages and then expert advisory counsel at the appellate level. The only extant records on the Buchanan case (apart from references in the Board of Director's minutes, in Part 1 of Papers of the NAACP) are found in the Branch File for Louisville, where the case originated. Those records include a legal brief, an NAACP press release upon the announcement of the Supreme Court's decision, and a printed narrative history of the case published by the Louisville branch of the NAACP.
Supreme Court decision in Corrigan v. Buckley, Washington, D.C. restrictive covenant case (1924)
The NAACP launched a major test case against restrictive covenants in Washington, D. C. In one of its most bitter defeats, the Federal Court of Appeals ruled in Corrigan v. Buckley (1924) that such covenants on the alienation of property could be enforced by law, and that blacks having purchased properties in defiance of the covenants could be denied possession or evicted by local authorities.
Housing discrimination and federal housing programs and policies
The first major impetus to NAACP concern over racial discrimination in federal housing programs came with World War II and the construction of war workers' housing, which was almost always provided along segregated lines.
Discrimination in the U.S. Amed Forces
Labor Conditions and Employment Discrimination
Voting Rights Campaign
An extended exchange with Alice Paul of the National Woman's Party over Paul's statement to a Southern audience denying that suffragists had any interests in black enfranchisement. There are also descriptions of the planned strategies of Southern states to maintain black disenfranchisement in the wake of the 19th Amendment and efforts to persuade the National Woman's Party to endorse black voting rights in 1921.
Oklahoma grandfather clause
Guinn v. U.S. (1915) marked the NAACP's first appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court and its first victory in the arena of constitutional law. Despite the Court's declaring the Oklahoma grandfather clause unconstitutional, state officials immediately proceeded with attempts to circumvent the decision. Documentation of the NAACP involvement in the Guinn case is very fragmentary. The vast bulk of the surviving records pertain to the litigation that culminated in Lane v. Wilson.
Lane v. Wilson
The victory before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case challenging Oklahoma grandfather clause (1939).
The "white primary" was the most effective and the most widely used tactic to disenfranchise blacks, primaries were tantamount to election to office. Efforts against the "white primary" began in Texas in the 1920s, and although several NAACP-sponsored challenges were mounted in other states - notably in Arkansas and Virginia - the focus remained on the Texas white primary throughout the 1930s and early 1940s. The litigation included several appeals and decisions before the U.S. Supreme Court - Nixon v. Herndon (1927) and Nixon v. Condon (1932) - and the ultimate vindication of the NAACP's efforts by the landmark ruling in Smith v. Allwright in 1944, which unequivocally declared "white primaries" unconstitutional.