Before Black Lives Matter (BLM) or the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, there was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Founded in 1909 by a group of bi-racial activists determined to stop the then prevalent lynching of black men, the organization first met on February 12th in honor of President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. All in attendance (including civil rights activists W.E.B. DuBois and Ida B. Wells) agreed to fight for criminal justice, education, healthcare and economic opportunities for African Americans. As they worked toward their goals, they saved their letters, memos, photographs, notes and diaries. In 1964, the Library of Congress acquired the large collection of NAACP Papers and has been the Institutional Repository for them ever since. Xavier University Library has a digital copy of this collection ranging from 1909-1972.
Today the NAACP Papers are the most heavily used collection held at the congressional library. People access this collection to learn from its example of how to fight for a more just and humane society.
Following the murder of George Floyd and the Minneapolis Protests, the NAACP declared, “We can’t go back! We are done dying!” The organization is working with members of Black Lives Matter, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Democratic Presidential Candidate, in a determined effort to make changes in policing culture, voting rights and increased funding for healthcare and education. No doubt, the Library of Congress is recording it all.