NAACP celebrates 100 years in ToledoWritten by Danielle Stanton | | email@example.com
Ohio State University professor Kenneth Goings can trace back to the origins of Toledo’s NAACP branch to explain how it has lasted here for 100 years.
February marks the 100th anniversary of the NAACP in Toledo and Dr. Goings will speak Feb. 21 Downtown at the Toledo-Lucas County Main Library to mark the occasion.
Most people thought the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People would fail, Goings said during a telephone interview Feb. 17. The national organization was founded in 1909 and the Toledo branch in 1915. In the beginning, the organization had few successes and many critics, said Goings, an expert on NAACP history in Ohio.
“[Black nationalist] Marcus Garvey heavily criticized the NAACP for working with white people,” Goings said. “Other African-Americans also criticized the NAACP. The labor organizers felt that the NAACP was focused more on race and not on class.”
Even the prominent African-American leader Booker T. Washington felt the NAACP was a group of radical “rabble-rousers” that would cause more harm than good in race relations.
The criticisms and lack of any real success continued until 1930, when Judge John J. Parker was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“Judge Parker had made some racist statements and the NAACP couldn’t tolerate someone like that on the Supreme Court,” Goings said. “They started a campaign to ensure Parker was not confirmed. They were ultimately successful. They reorganized their branches.
The Toledo branch took on this campaign. When Parker was defeated, it was one of the greatest achievements for African-Americans because they had been disenfranchised, Jim-Crowed, and here they were able to pull themselves together and defeat Parker.”
Defeating Parker brought prestige and honor to the African-American community and people started joining the NAACP. Their membership dues provided a financial infusion that ensured the Toledo branch of the NAACP would continue, Goings said.
Goings wrote a book, published in 1990, called “The NAACP Comes of Age’: The Defeat of Judge John J. Parker,” that details the beginnings of how the NAACP was born and became the powerful organization that it is today.
Blocking Parker’s nomination was not the end of the fight. The NAACP went on to target and block the election of Ohio senators who supported Parker. They were able to flip Toledo, Akron, Canton and Columbus from Republican-held cities to Democratic, Goings said.
“It gave [African-Americans] a real sense of accomplishment and motivation, and after 1930 the national and Toledo branch became much more active and started working on improving their lot,” he said.
The NAACP was founded to enforce the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution. The 14th Amendment “granted equal protection of the laws” and deals with citizenship; the 15th Amendment prohibits the government from denying a citizen the right to vote based on the citizen’s “race, color or previous condition of servitude.”
The NAACP takes a legal approach to civil rights, Goings said, with the goal of influencing legislature. During the civil rights movement in the 1960s, the organization did not participate in sit-ins, marches or bus boycotts, and many African-Americans considered them “Uncle Toms.”
“Their whole approach is to do things through the courts, to change the laws,” Goings said.
Other black groups that were active during the civil rights movement are not active today, he said, such as Congress of Racial Equality, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Black Panther Party.
“Where are they now?” Goings asked. “But the NAACP remains strong and it’s celebrating its 100th birthday.”
Goings believes today’s NAACP is not attracting enough young people, because they want action, like demonstrations and marches, such as those spawned from the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. But that’s not the NAACP style, he said. Instead, the NAACP goes to court and enforces voting rights and fair procedures.
Goings will speak 2-3:30 p.m. Feb. 21 on the accomplishments and leadership of the Toledo NAACP chapter over the past 100 years at the Main Library’s McMaster Center, 325 N. Michigan St. A Q-and-A session will follow. Light refreshments will be served.
The event is sponsored by the Library Legacy Foundation.