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Leading the Charge for Civil Rights Change

10 black groups that fought for justice and equality


spinner image Newspaper editor and former slave T. Thomas Fortune formed the National Afro-American League, heralded as the first major all-black civil rights organization.
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

National Afro-American League

Founded in 1909, today's NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Early members included W.E.B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells and Jane Addams. It has been on the front lines to end discrimination in employment and the armed forces as well as segregation in schools.

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spinner image A group of student activists working on a campaign for the equal treatment of African American teachers in Norfolk, Virginia, Historical Review of Leading Black Civil Rights Organizations
Corbis

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People 

Migration from the South accelerating by 1910, the National Urban League formed to help blacks adjust to city life in the North and fight discrimination in employment, education and housing. Among its signature programs today: Project Ready, preparing urban youth for college, work and life.

spinner image The largest Negro city in the world is located in what formerly was a fashionable residential section of New York City, Harlem, Historical Review of Leading Black Civil Rights Organizations
Corbis

National Urban League 

Born out of the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., the SCLC formed in 1957, with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the helm, to coordinate nonviolent action aimed at desegregating bus systems across the South. The group led the 1965 Selma Voting Rights Campaign and March to Montgomery.

spinner image Uniformed African-American railroad porters playing pool & cards while relaxing at Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters HQ in Harlem, Historical Review of Leading Black Civil Rights Organizations
Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

After breaking with the Nation of Islam, Malcolm X helped start the group in 1964. Its purpose: to reconnect African Americans with their African heritage, establish economic independence and promote self-determination. The OAAU disbanded in the wake of Malcolm X's assassination in 1965.

spinner image Educator Mary McLeod Bethune sits at a desk, possibly in the Chicago Defender offices in 1942, Historical Review of Leading Black Civil Rights Organizations
Getty Images

National Council of Negro Women

In 1890, newspaper editor and former slave T. Thomas Fortune formed the first major all-black civil rights organization. It targeted the South to battle discrimination and the weakening of the 14th and 15th amendments, which gave citizenship and the vote to African Americans.

spinner image Freedom Riders on a Greyhound bus sponsored by the Congress Of Racial Equality (CORE), sit on the ground outside the bus after it was set afire by a group of whites in Anniston, Alabama, May 14, 1961, Historical Review of Leading Black Civil Rights Organizations
Getty Images

Congress of Racial Equality

In 1890, newspaper editor and former slave T. Thomas Fortune formed the first major all-black civil rights organization. It targeted the South to battle discrimination and the weakening of the 14th and 15th amendments, which gave citizenship and the vote to African Americans.

spinner image A civil rights rights march to Montgomery walks past Brown Chapel in Selma in 1965, Historical Review of Leading Black Civil Rights Organizations
Flip Schulke/Corbis

Southern Christian Leadership Conference 

In 1890, newspaper editor and former slave T. Thomas Fortune formed the first major all-black civil rights organization. It targeted the South to battle discrimination and the weakening of the 14th and 15th amendments, which gave citizenship and the vote to African Americans.

spinner image Stokely Carmichael, national head of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee speaks from the hood of an automobile on the campus of Florida A&M University, April 16, 1967, in Tallahassee, Florida, Historical Review of Leading Black Civil Rights Organizations
AP

Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee 

In 1890, newspaper editor and former slave T. Thomas Fortune formed the first major all-black civil rights organization. It targeted the South to battle discrimination and the weakening of the 14th and 15th amendments, which gave citizenship and the vote to African Americans.

spinner image African-American Muslim minister and civil rights activist Malcolm X  holding a movie camera, Historical Review of Leading Black Civil Rights Organizations
Getty Images

Organization of Afro-American Unity 

In 1890, newspaper editor and former slave T. Thomas Fortune formed the first major all-black civil rights organization. It targeted the South to battle discrimination and the weakening of the 14th and 15th amendments, which gave citizenship and the vote to African Americans.

spinner image Activist Rev. Al Sharpton speaks outside the Democratic National Convention in New York in 1992., Historical Review of Leading Black Civil Rights Organizations
AP

National Action Network 

In 1890, newspaper editor and former slave T. Thomas Fortune formed the first major all-black civil rights organization. It targeted the South to battle discrimination and the weakening of the 14th and 15th amendments, which gave citizenship and the vote to African Americans.

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