National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: Historical Background
The NAACP, a membership organization with 2,200 local chapters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, has approximately 500,000 members. Local chapters are managed by a national board of directors located in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1940, the NAACP established a new independent organization to pursue legal actions through the courts via its legal arm, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF). Thurgood Marshall became its first director and chief legal counsel. The LDF, a nonmembership organization, is located in New York City. When the name NAACP is mentioned, it refers to both organizations, the NAACP and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
In addition to making its stance on public issues known in its publication, The Crisis, the NAACP sponsors two important events annually. The first is its annual convention, which typically is addressed by the U.S. president; the second is the annual NAACP Image Awards ceremony that takes place in Hollywood, California.
The NAACP was patterned after the Niagara Movement, a group with an all Black membership that was founded by W. E. B. DuBois, a Black scholar from Atlanta University. The charter members of the NAACP included 53 Whites and 7 African Americans. The NAACP’s first officers included five Whites and one Black, W. E. B. DuBois, who was elected director of publicity and research and editor of The Crisis.