1949 April 20

African American Youth Told to Accept “Half a Loaf”

 

At the opening session of an NAACP Youth Council Conference at Howard University on this day, the young African-American delegates were advised to accept “half a loaf” in the pursuit of racial justice. Dr. Montague Cobb, of the Howard University School of Medicine, told them that “mature judgment” dictated not holding up progressive social legislation by pressing for “so-called equal rights clauses.” A delegation of young women from Sarah Lawrence College countered by arguing in favor of “purity” amendments to legislation that would require “equal treatment of all races, colors and creeds.”

The incident was typical of a recurring theme in the history of the Civil Rights Movement. At each point, as more radical activists pressed forward with new demands, conservative American-American voices warned against pushing too hard and alienating white support.

The NAACP Youth Council did not take the advice. Local councils undertook a number of sit-ins to protest segregation in the 1950s, several years before the famous 1960 sit-ins in Greensboro, North Carolina. See, for example, the sit-in in Oklahoma that began on August 19, 1958.

Read: Gilbert Jones, Freedom’s Sword: The NAACP and the Struggle Against Racism in America, 1909–1969 (2012)

Learn more about the Oklahoma City civil rights campaign: http://nvdatabase.swarthmore.edu/content/oklahoma-city-african-americans-sit-integration-1958-64

Learn more: Iwan W. Morgan and Philip Davies, From Sit-ins to SNCC: The Student Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s (2012)

Find a Day

Go
Abortion Rights ACLU african-americans Alice Paul anti-communism Anti-Communist Hysteria Birth Control Brown v. Board of Education Censorship CIA Civil Rights Civil Rights Act of 1964 Cold War Espionage Act FBI First Amendment Fourteenth Amendment freedom of speech Free Speech Gay Rights Hate Speech homosexuality Hoover, J. Edgar HUAC Japanese American Internment King, Dr. Martin Luther Ku Klux Klan Labor Unions Lesbian and Gay Rights Loyalty Oaths McCarthy, Sen. Joe New York Times Obscenity Police Misconduct Same-Sex Marriage Separation of Church and State Sex Discrimination Smith Act Spying Spying on Americans Vietnam War Voting Rights Voting Rights Act of 1965 War on Terror Watergate White House Women's Rights Women's Suffrage World War I World War II Relocation Camps

Topics

Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear your comments, criticisms and suggestions!