NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch History
Since its founding on February 12, 1909, the NAACP remains the largest and most actively engaged civil rights organization in the country, and the Mid-Manhattan Branch has consistently been recognized on a local, state and national level as one of the Association’s premier branches.
In the fall of 1965, Max Delson, upon learning that there was no branch covering the Mid-Manhattan area, decided that he would work towards establishing a branch. In November 1965, Max Delson, Gloster B. Current, Tom Allen, and Shirley Stewart Farmer held a meeting regarding the formation of the Mid-Manhattan Branch. The Branch originally covered the area from 34th Street on the South to 110th Street on the North from river to river. Today, the Branch has expanded its advocacy work throughout the Borough of Manhattan and beyond.
In February 1966, with the support of Roy Wilkins and Ralph Bunch, a letter and NAACP membership applications were sent to approximately 500 people in the Mid-Manhattan area. Upon obtaining the required 50 members, a charter application was submitted to the National Office, and the National Board of Directors approved the application. On June 8, 1966, the first general membership meeting was held at the Freedom House and Dr. John Morsell presented the charter to the organization.
The 1960’s was one of the most violent and tragic periods in United States history. Massive numbers of African Americans were being lynched and murdered daily as the Ku Klux Klan reined terror. It was in this post-period of unrest, that the Branch emerged as a beacon of hope for people determined to attain the principles guaranteed under the United States Constitution of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Membership is the lifeblood of the NAACP and is the guiding force of the Mid-Manhattan Branch. Under the leadership of the Branch’s current President, Geoffrey E. Eaton, Branch membership has increased exponentially and includes a diverse and expansive array of people from different cultural, religious, educational, and socio-economic backgrounds. This diversity in membership contributes to the inter-change of policies and ideas that make the Branch a formidable advocate in the advancement of rights for all people. Consistent with this ideal, the Branch has held its monthly general membership meetings at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a global Human Rights Organization; the Harlem Hospital Center; and, the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building.
The Branch is nationally mandated to focus on the five (5) Civil Rights “Game Changers” of (1) Civic Engagement. (2) Criminal Justice, (3) Economic Development, (4) Education, and (5) Health. Under President Eaton’s leadership, the Branch has broadened its network of community partnerships and is one of the few Branches that has successfully expanded its programmatic work to include effective and results-orientated advocacy in the areas of Housing, Membership, Veteran’s Affairs and LGBT issues.
Since its founding, the Branch has commemorated a number of civil rights milestones including: the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the founding of the Union League Club, which outfitted the first colored troops and infantry armies; the Women’s Suffrage Movement; and the 100th Anniversary of the home going services of Harriet Tubman and the birth of Rosa Parks in (1913-2013; 50-year anniversary of the assassination of beloved Civil Rights leader and Field Secretary, Medgar Wiley Evers; the assassination of our beloved Prophet and Drum Major of Justice, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he stood on the balcony of the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis Tennessee; 50 years ago in Selma Alabama, Sarah Collins Rudolph was severely injured, and her four young friends: Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carol Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, were bombed to death inside the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church as they prepared for Sunday School. That same year, Sheriff "Bull" Connor used billy clubs, dogs and fire hoses to disperse crowds of young school children in Birmingham, and, images of vicious dogs and police brutality covered the front pages of every newspaper.
The Branch has also celebrated a number of notable civil rights victories including: the election of Barack Obama, the nation’s first African American President; the appointment of the first African American Attorney General Eric Holder and his successor, Loretta Lynch; the removal of the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State Capitol; the United States Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act and marriage equality; and the 50-year celebration of the historic March on Washington and “I have A Dream Speech."
Each of these celebratory events give us hope and vision, and the Branch remains undeterred and vigilant in its crusade for justice and equality. The Officers and Members of the Mid-Manhattan Branch proudly carry the torch that illuminates the past, rings the bell of hope in the present, and inspires our work towards God’s promise for a better future.
For the past several years, the Mid-Manhattan Branch has received the Thalheimer Award, which is the highest award presented annually at the NAACP National Convention
The Branch is housed at the NAACP Roy Wilkins Center, located at 270 West 96th Street,New York, NY where it organizes, develops and delivers its program services. The Branch was ceremonially re-presented its charter at the Annual Meeting of the National Board of Directors on February 20, 2016.
DID YOU KNOW...
◄Virtually every prominent Wall Street leader joined forces with the NAACP Mid-Manhattan Branch in May 1972 to pay tribute to Daniels & Bell, Inc., the first New York Stock Exchange member-firm with a truly integrated partnership. The unprecedented event was held at the New York Hilton and was attended by over 600 executives of the securities industry, government officials and representatives of the NAACP.
◄In 1971, the Mid-Manhattan Branch sponsored Project Rebound, the first NAACP rehabilitation program to provide counseling, job placement and educational services for the formerly incarcerated. As a result of Project Rebound’s success in NYC, other NAACP branches across the nation began to sponsor similar programs. Simultaneously, NAACP branches were chartered within area prisons.
◄In 2014, Branch President Geoffrey Eaton launched the Branch onto the national stage, as the first Branch President in NAACP history to introduce a National Chairman at the National Convention, the Honorable Roslyn McCalister Brock at the 106th Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The historic stage was shared with President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo.
◄President Max Delson was the uncle of President Ira Haupt.
◄President Peter Norwood is the uncle of former 2nd Vice President Yolanda Payne.
◄The Branch has been housed at its current location at 270 West 96th Street, New York, NY since 1974.
◄The 40th Anniversary Lapel Pin was designed by Barabara Oliver and the 50th Anniversary Lapel Pin was designed by Christina Brown.
◄The Branch’s first elected Officers were: Max Delson and Stanley Lowell (Co-Presidents); Bill Morrison (First Vice-President); Betty Stebman (Second Vice-President); Harold Bailer (Treasurer); and Shirely Stewart Farmer (Secretary).
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