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The Walter White Project

Randy Stakeman, Jackson Stakeman, Authors

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The Departure of W.E.B. Du Bois in 1934

As the Great Depression took hold of America and Walter White rose to
the leadership of the NAACP W.E.B. Du Bois began to question the path
and program of the Association. Although still opposed to the Communist
Party his own politics became more radical and he began to doubt that
the NAACP's policy on anti-segregation was addressing the core needs of
the masses (particularly the lower classes) of African Americans. This
change coupled with his displeasure at the change of leadership and the
deteriorating financial position of the Crisis magazine led to a final

As Du Bois himself describes
the financial self support of the Crisis gave him the independence to
publish what he wanted.Du Bois tried to emphasize that the depression
resulted in economics rather than segregation was the greatest concern
facing most African Americans and that the NAACP should change its focus
accordingly. He present a measured critique of the organization at the
1932 annual conference of the NAACP titled "What is Wrong with the
NAACP." He acknowledged the achievements of the organization but argued
that the continued fight against Jim Crow and the color line should be
supplanted by heeding the ever more urgent plight of black workers.  He
argued that the crisis in capitalism brought class struggle to the
forefront and made economic survival the top priority.*

The Depression had brought about the end of The Crisis magazine's self support and thus Du Bois's independence as its editor.
The board of directors of the organization and Walter White did not
heed his call for change. He also felt that the national office staff,
particularly White, had become distant from the masses and concentrated
the organization's their power at the expense of the branches and rank and
file. He presented  complex plan for reorganization that would have
created regional councils of branches and let them have more control
over the NAACP's direction. This plan was again ignored by the board and
the executive secretary.

The failure of his attempts to move the
organization in a new direction, the loss of control over the Crisis
and his dislike of Walter White all came to a head in one incident.  He
published an editorial in the Crisis saying the gathering together of
strength in voluntarily segregated communities (which would later be
espoused by black nationalists and black power advocates) was a tactic
that should be considered. The organization built on the idea that all
walls of segregation should be torn down immediately reacted with
articles in The Crisis magazine disagreeing with Du Bois and calling him
to task. As he saw it there was little else he could do in the organization.

Du Bois resigned from the organization effective July 1, 1934.
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