1939 October 11

NAACP Legal Defense Fund Organized


The NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., established on this day, became the tax-exempt legal action arm of the NAACP. Under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, it brought many if not most of the important civil rights cases from its founding through the 1960s. The most important case, of course, was Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954, which declared the principle of “separate but equal” to be unconstitutional. Marshall and the “Inc. Fund,” as it was often called, also brought the cases that led up to Brown, as well as cases involving implementation of that historic decision. In 1957, the LDF was separately incorporated as the NAACP LDF, Inc. Eventually, bitter rivalry developed between the two organizations. In the 1980s, the NAACP unsuccessfully sued the LDF for trademark infringement. Both NAACP and the LDF continue to work on civil rights issues today.

Go to the LDF web site: http://www.naacpldf.org/

Watch a long-lost interview with Thurgood Marshall in the 1950s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoPLitU6jVg

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

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