To what extent was the NAACP responsible for the successes of the Civil Rights Campaign in the years 1945

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Sam Beardmore

To what extent was the NAACP responsible for the successes of the Civil Rights Campaign in the years 1945-57?

  The National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) was an organisation that challenged segregation and demanded equality of rights for all black citizens. Founded in 1909 by civil rights campaigners and headed by W.E.B Dubois, the NAACP challenged segregation on three main fronts; court cases, pressurising politicians and a series of non violent protests and boycotts. The significance of the organisation increased dramatically after the Second World War when its membership sharply rose, a period now described as the ‘Golden Years of the NAACP’.

  The NAACP was the paragon of organisations tackling segregation through the American legal system. They used the 14th and 15th constitutional amendments in an attempt to protect the rights of individuals in their favour; the amendments collectively state that citizenship rights and voting rights were to be guaranteed to all who were born in the USA, regardless of their race. Furthermore, American citizens could take the government to court in cases where it appeared they had acted in a way to infringe any constitutional right. Experienced civil rights lawyers, such as Thurgood Marshall, were used by the NAACP to support the cases where citizens took the authorities to court, two such successful cases were Morgan v. Virginia (1946) and Smith v. Allwright (1944). The Morgan v. Virginia case was successful for the NAACP; after being taken to the Supreme Court it won the battle to make segregation on interstate buses illegal. Similarly fought for by Marshall in the Supreme Court, the Smith v. Allwright case outlawed all-white democratic primary elections throughout America. Cases such as these were significant because they demonstrated that organisations such as the NAACP were able to achieve successful steps to ending segregation through non-violent action.

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  Additionally the NAACP used non-violent direct action as a successful means of tackling segregation. An example of this is the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955 – 56) in which the black people of Montgomery boycotted the local buses, following Rosa Parks’ arrest, to show the importance of black customers by financially crippling the bus companies. This, along with the Browder v. Gayle (1956) case, outlawed segregation on local buses, thereby demonstrating the power of uniting direct action with a legal campaign. Strong leadership in the form of local NAACP leader E.D Nixon and Martin Luther King was shown within ...

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