By Manfred Berg
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Extra resources for The Ticket to Freedom: The NAACP and the Struggle for Black Political Integration
Du Bois, a professor at Atlanta University and the leading intellectual voice of black protest in America. 6 Villard’s Call was issued on the same day that the city of Springﬁeld, Illinois, celebrated Lincoln’s birthday with a lavish banquet—from which African-Americans were of course excluded. Cloaked in the allegory of the martyred president returning to earth to review the progress of AfricanAmericans since his Emancipation Proclamation, The Call was a scathing indictment of racial discrimination, disfranchisement, and lawlessness in America.
At all times, there were critics who ridiculed and condemned this goal as illusionary or even treacherous, and modern historians have echoed much of this criticism. In a fundamentally racist society, it is said, the concept of integration may easily become an ideological subterfuge for concealing white privilege and black exclusion behind a masquerade of tokenism. 29 I refrain from discussing the future prospects for such sweeping social change here. However, I wish to remind the readers of the fact that during most of the time span covered in this book the notion of racial integration was viewed as distinctly radical, even revolutionary, by most white Americans.
In 1913, two years after its incorporation, there were ten branches, with a total of 1,100 members. Three years later, the number of branches and members had increased to seventy and 8,785, respectively. Not surprisingly, the strongholds of the NAACP were concentrated in the northern metropolitan areas, the destination of many southern blacks in the Great Migration during the First World War. In the South, however, there were only three NAACP branches so far, located in New Orleans, Shreveport, Louisiana, and Key West, Florida, with a combined membership of 348 persons.