In February 1909, northern white and black reformers, outraged by the racial violence in Abraham Lincoln’s adopted hometown a year earlier, called a small meeting. Out of this grew the first strong national organization to fight for the rights of black people: the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Last Saturday, a commemorative statue was unveiled in Springfield, marking the race riot of 1908, the historic event that led to the formation of the NAACP. Below is a timeline of some of the NAACP’s century of accomplishments.

1909, Feb. 12 The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded by a multiracial group of activists. They originally called themselves the National Negro Committee.

1910 The NAACP begins its legacy of fighting legal battles addressing social injustice with the Pink Franklin case. Franklin was a black farmhand, who unknowingly killed a policeman in self-defense when the officer broke into his home at 3 a.m. to arrest him on a civil charge.

1915 The NAACP organizes a nationwide protest of D.W. Griffith’s racially-inflammatory silent film Birth of a Nation.

1918 After persistent pressure by the NAACP, President Woodrow Wilson finally makes a public statement against lynching.

1920 To ensure that everyone, especially the Ku Klux Klan, knew that the NAACP would not be intimidated, its annual conference is held in Atlanta, considered one of the most active Klan areas.

1935 NAACP lawyers Charles Houston and Thurgood Marshall win the legal battle to admit a black student to the University of Maryland.

1939 After the Daughters of the Revolution barred acclaimed soprano Marian Anderson from performing at their Constitution Hall, the NAACP moved her concert to the Lincoln Memorial, witnessed by more than 75, 000.

1941 During World War II, the NAACP leads the effort to ensure that President Franklin Roosevelt orders a non-discrimination policy in war-related industries and federal employment.

1946 The NAACP wins Morgan vs. Virginia, where the Supreme Court bans states from having laws sanctioning segregated facilities in interstate travel by train and bus. Prior to Rosa Parks, Irene Morgan (1917-2007) in 1944 refused to give up her Greyhound Bus seat to a white person. Morgan, a 27-year-old mother, was ill and on her way to see a doctor in Baltimore. The bus driver stopped in Virginia and summoned the sheriff, who tried to arrest Morgan. She tore up the warrant and kicked the sheriff in the groin and fought his deputy, who tried to drag her off the bus. She was jailed for resisting arrest and violating Virginia’s segregation law.

1954 After years of fighting segregation in public schools, under the leadership of special counsel Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP wins one of its greatest legal victories in Brown vs. the Board of Education.

1963 After one of his many successful rallies for civil rights, NAACP’s first field director, Medgar Evers, is shot to death in front of his house in Jackson, Miss. The NAACP that year also pushes for the passage of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act.

1995 More than 30 years after her husband’s death, Myrlie Evers, is elected chairman of the NAACP’s Board of Directors. The following year, Kweisi Mfume leaves Congress to become the NAACP’s president and CEO.

2001-present Under the leadership of Chairman Julian Bond, current President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous, and with the help of thousands of loyal NAACP members, the organization continues to thrive into the next millennium.

(Source: Crisis Magazine)

-Delores McCain