A century of advocacy

May 29, 2011

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1909 > The NAACP is founded on February 12 in New York.

1911 > The Boston NAACP is recognized as the organization’s first local branch.

1914 > The local branch persuades the Boston School Committee to remove a book containing racist language, Forty Best Songs, from schools.

1938 > The branch wins an extradition case preventing a fugitive from a Georgia chain gang caught in Boston from being sent back, a case that helped end Georgia’s chain-gang system.

1948 > Florence Lesueur is elected branch president, the first woman in NAACP history to lead a local branch.

1953 > The branch pushes the Meadows Restaurant in Framingham to hire a black waiter, marking the first time in the state that a major restaurant serving a white clientele had black and white servers working in the same dining room.

1960s > The branch battles with the city over segregation in its schools and in housing developments, and over a lack of code enforcement in privately owned apartments. Membership, at more than 5,000 people, is at its peak.

1972 > The branch files a lawsuit against the Boston School Committee over segregated schools, leading to the 1974 desegregation order by federal judge W. Arthur Garrity Jr.

1980s > The city’s housing authority, under legal pressure from the Boston NAACP, agrees to desegregate its developments in a landmark settlement.

1990s > The national NAACP removes the Boston branch president and assumes oversight of local operations. The branch later gets new leadership and sets out to rebuild its reputation.

2000s > The Boston branch fights to have minority leaders and minority-owned companies at the forefront during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

2010 > Membership is lagging, then Michael Curry, a lawyer, lobbyist, and NAACP insider, runs for branch president and wins over former state senator Bill Owens. Curry’s goal: reestablishing the branch’s voice.

SOURCES: NAACP; Globe archives; Boston’s NAACP History, 1910-1982, by Robert C. Hayden

  • May 29, 2011 cover
  • May 29, 2011 cover
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