The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is an organization devoted to ensuring equality in politics, education, the economy, and on social issues for all races. Many of the activities undertaken by the group are geared towards eliminating racism and promoting minority rights. Primarily operating in the United States, the NAACP is headed by a 64-member board of directors, which in turn elects a president to oversee the day-to-day functions of the organization. Headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, it also has offices in six other states that coordinate local chapters across the country.
During the late 1800s and early 1900s, many Southern states made an effort to change their constitutions in an effort to disenfranchise African American voters. Forming the basis of the future organization, many prominent African Americans joined with white journalists and social workers to establish the Niagara Movement in 1905. Although the group began to make headway in its pursuit of equal rights, many divisions within the movement were far more radical than the principle core. Four years later, with the founding of the NAACP, the Niagara Movement was disbanded. Many of the members joined the new organization to continue the fight for voting rights and overall equality.
Four specific departments exist within the structure of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, each one dedicated to different aspects of the group's goals. Branch and Field Services support local chapters at the community and college level. The Education department focuses on educating the public on race relations and equality. Advancement of minority health care is handled by the Health Division, while anti-discrimination goals and legal defense of minorities is overseen by the Legal Department.
Throughout its history, the organization has fought successfully against Jim Crow laws, statutes that legalized the segregation between whites and other races. Joining the movements of famous people such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the organization was able to overcome legal boundaries such as Plessy v. Ferguson, a doctrine of “separate but equal.” It also made major headway in desegregation with the legal support of Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court decision that ultimately opened up schools across the country to all races. Today, the organization is also known for its support of the arts through the Image Awards, and the annual presentation of the Spingarn Medal to an African American of historical significance.