1955 October 19

NAACP Called a “Threat” to Georgia

 

The Attorney General of Georgia on this day called the NAACP a “threat” to the state, charging “subversion” in its anti-segregation drive. The civil rights organization was a “threat to the peace, tranquility, government and way of life of our states,” he added.

The attack was typical of the response of Southern states’ policy of “massive resistance” to the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision on May 17, 1954, declaring racially segregated schools unconstitutional. A number of Southern states passed laws aimed at limiting the activities of the NAACP — two of those laws resulted in the landmark Supreme Court decisions that expanded First Amendment rights. The case of NAACP v. Alabama, decided on June 30, 1958, established a freedom of association under the First Amendment. The case of NAACP v. Button, decided on April 2, 1963, struck down a Virginia law directed at the NAACP that sought to prevent lawyers from engaging in advocacy litigation. Prince Edward County, Virginia, meanwhile, closed its entire school system on May 1, 1959, rather than integrate. The Supreme Court finally ordered the district to reopen and integrate its schools on May 25, 1964.

Learn more: George Lewis, Massive Resistance: The White Response to the Civil Rights Movement (2006)

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

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