Beginning in 1913, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) was the leading advocate for black constitutional rights in Alabama during the first half of the twentieth century. Other advocacy organizations existed, such as civic and voters' leagues, but Alabama's NAACP branches provided the most consistent and vocal challenge to African Americans' second-class status in society before the modern civil rights movement. White supremacists viewed the NAACP as a threat to the status quo and used intimidation, violence, and the law to eliminate the various branches in the state. Finally, in 1956, the state outlawed the organization outright, which led to a loss of influence. Alabama NAACP branches also faced internal threats to their survival through ineffective leadership and factionalism. Faced with threats of white reprisal, loss of will on the part of some branch officials and members, and competition from the Communist Party, the Alabama NAACP's crusade for racial equality was still able to generate the opposition to disenfranchisement and Jim Crow laws that would later define the 1950s and 1960s.
Black Alabamians were among the first southerners to establish an NAACP branch. Faculty, staff, and local citizens associated with Talladega College, in Talladega, founded the first branch in 1913, just four years after the formation of the parent agency in New York City and four years before any other southern state organized an NAACP branch. This first branch lasted only a year, however, because college officials dismissed William Pickens, who had been an organizer for the national NAACP office since 1910. Talladega College officials charged the controversial professor of languages with insubordination, promoting strife between white administrators and black students, and excessive absences from classes for his time spent recruiting and fundraising for the NAACP's New York office. Pickens's sudden departure brought the Talladega branch to an abrupt end.
The Alabama NAACP has active initiatives in Civic Engagement, Political Action, Criminal Justice, Education, Health, and Economics. Our mission is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of all citizens. Until racial discrimination and prejudice is eliminated, the NAACP will remain in the fight. Join us.
Please donate to the Alabama NAACP to help further our mission to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights for all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.