History of the Atlanta Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

By Cheryl Oestreicher, Project Archivist, NAACP Atlanta Brach records, Auburn Avenue Research Library

“Working for Freedom: Documenting Civil Rights Organizations” is a collaborative project between Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library, The Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History, The Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, and The Robert W. Woodruff Library of Atlanta University Center to uncover and make available previously hidden collections documenting the Civil Rights Movement in Atlanta and New Orleans. The project is administered by the Council on Library and Information Resources with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Each organization regularly contributes blog posts about their progress.

For more information about the collection described in this post, please contact the Archives at Auburn Avenue Research Library, aarl [dot] archives [at] fultoncountyga [dot] gov

Chartered in 1917, the NAACP Atlanta Branch started under the leadership of James Weldon Johnson, Harry Pace, Dr. Charles Johnson, Dr. Louis Wright, and Walter White. The collection spans the 1950s through the 1990s, with the bulk of it from when Jondelle Johnson was Executive Director in the 1970s and 1980s. Presidents represented in the collection include Samuel W. Williams, C. Miles Smith, Lonnie King, and Julian Bond.

Above:  Voting brochure, 1974 Above:  Fair Share Agreement with Georgia Power, 1984

(Click all images to see larger versions.)

Branch committees and programs:

  • Membership: campaign drives and member events
  • Freedom Fund: annual Freedom Fund dinner
  • Political Action: lobbying and voter registration
  • Economic Development: minority procurement and business development, fair share
  • Community Coordination: emergency assistance, Emancipation Day Celebration, Black Dollar Days
  • Housing: fair housing, discrimination
  • Press and Publicity: protested showing of Amos and Andy,
  • Youth Work: created programs during the 1980 Atlanta child murders, safety, and voter education
  • ACT-SO: Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological, and Scientific Olympics
  • Labor and Industry: job placement and training, fair employment
  • Legal Redress: school desegregation, employment and housing discrimination lawsuits
  • Education: SAT clinic, scholarships
Above:  Program, Afro-Academic Cultural, Technological-Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO), 1979   Above:  Program, Freedom Fund Committee, 1977

Throughout its history, the Atlanta Branch strived for, and often succeeded, to improve the lives of minorities through legislation, litigation, and education. The collection contains correspondence, programs, meeting minutes, annual reports, brochures, fliers, photographs, articles, newsletters, publications, reports, and legal documents.