Very few initials are as well known in America as NAACP. They stand for the “National Association for the Advancement of Colored People” which traces it’s beginning to 1909 in New York City. The NAACP came into being during a period which historian Rayford Logan has described as the ‘nadir’, or the low point of the African-American experience in this country.
‘Black codes’ were in force in the South to legally separate the races in virtually every aspect of life. In other areas of the country, very much the same circumstances prevailed through custom. Blacks were limited to the most menial jobs, the worst housing, the most atrocious medical care, and the shabbiest education, wherever they lived. Lynchings were common, and officially sanctioned mistreatment of blacks, a common occurrence.
In 1908, a vicious race riot occurred in Springfield, IL, the former home of President Abraham Lincoln. Scores of blacks were killed and thousands driven from the city. Appalled, Mary White Ovington, a white social worker, organized a handful of people-William Walling, a writer; Dr. Henry Moskowitz, also a social worker; and Oswald Garrison Villard, editor of the New York Evening Post-who conceived a CALL for a national conference on what was described as ‘the Negro question.’
Some 60 black and white leaders signed the CALL, issued on President Lincoln’s birthday, February 12, 1909. Its last paragraph said:
‘We call upon all believers in democracy to join in a national conference for the discussion of present evils, the voicing of protests, and the renewal of the struggle for civil and political liberty.’
Out of the conference came a permanent group, the NAACP. The first officers were Moorfield Storey, national president; Mr. Walling, chairman of the executive committee; John E. Milholand, treasurer; Mr. Willard, disbursing treasurer; Francis Blascoer, executive secretary; Dr. W.E.B. DuBois, director of publicity and research.
The NAACP has a rich and varied history that has been woven by the hands of many men, women and children with a common goal of improving conditions for people of color. To give a detailed account of our accomplishments would require reams of paper. However, you can read a very insightful article by a woman who is known as “the first member of the NAACP” and assisted greatly in spearheading our creation. Read “How the NAACP Began” by Mary White Ovington. You can also view a few of the NAACP’s proud moments and accomplishments here.
West Volusia Branch History
The West Volusia Branch was founded by its initial members on August 19, 1943 in DeLand, FL. The late Allen Attaway served as President and the late Reverend Mayo D. & Eliza Staples served as Membership Chairpersons, respectively.
During the 1930’s and 1940’s, the Florida Conference of the NAACP petitioned the State of Florida as well as the United States government to investigate the lynching of black Americans. It was not until 2018 that the U.S. Senate would pass (unanimously) anti-lynching legislation, the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act; the House of Representatives took no action. On February 26, 2020, the House passed a revised version, the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act, by a vote of 410–4. State of Florida has seen its share of violent crimes against black Americans
During the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the West Volusia Branch took action against housing discrimination by demonstrating for federal money to improve living conditions in the minority community and against “de facto segregation”. De Facto Segregation meant blacks were expected not to live in certain communities, and were expected to remain in others. Real estate people assured white customers that there wouldn’t be any blacks in certain neighborhoods, because banks were in on the game and made it virtually impossible for blacks to get a mortgage loan to buy a home in a “white” community. As a result, it was easier to funnel school funds to schools in white communities and just sort of overlook the schools in black communities, resulting in school systems described as “certainly separate but certainly not equal.”
The West Volusia Branch participated in the nationwide Woolworth’s Lunch Counter demonstration as a way to end racial inequality. This nationwide peaceful demonstration, led to the desegregation of F.W. Woolworth’s in 1963. Click Here for a documentary of our members who participated.
The West Volusia Branch started a movement in the area to take action and demonstrated for improved learning environments for black students. During that time, black students were forced to go to black schools if they wanted an education. The students of black schools had a lack of supplies and were given inferior materials to learn with. Nationwide NAACP demonstrations in the matter led to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which required schools with white only students to integrate with black students or risk loss of federal money. Deland High School became integrated around 1967-68.
The 1970’s brought a new movement to the West Volusia Branch. Blacks had jobs that paid meager wages. The area had but one industry which was in citrus agriculture. Attention was received from peaceful demonstrations by West Volusia Branch which led to new industries that were brought to this area.
Due to the efforts of our branch leaders and representatives and to encourage our elected officials to honor the life of Harry T & Harriett V. Moore, we are please to announce that the State of Florida has formally declared December 15th, Harry T. & Harriett V. Moore Day. Click here for an article.
Today, the West Volusia Branch continues to serve the West Volusia county community as volunteers to preserve freedom and justice for ALL PEOPLE.