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The Walter White Project

Randy Stakeman, Jackson Stakeman, Authors

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Walter White and the founding of new branches

In 1912 Du Bois hired Kathryn Magnolia Johnson to travel around the country promoting sales of The Crisis magazine.  While traveling Johnson touted the racial achievements of the NAACP as well as selling subscriptions.  Inevitably she stirred black communities to organize their own branches of the organization and to contribute financial to the national if they could. Although originally envisioned as an organization in which philanthropic whites would finance the Associations efforts for African Americans, the truth as it worked out was that blacks themselves became the biggest contributors to their activities. James Weldon Johnson's (no relation to Kathryn) selection as field secretary in 1916 was an acknowledgement of that fact and a commitment to become an organization fueled by a predominantly black membership. His consequent strategy was to organize new branches particularly in the South where the black population was the highest even though overt racism was the strongest there.  His recruitment of Walter White as his assistant in 1918 was just another step in his strategy. When Jim Johnson became the leader of the NAACP and White followed as his assistant, he not only appointed a replacement for himself as field secretary (William Pickens) he also hired a director of branches (Robert Bagnall) and a field organizer (Addie Hunton.)

Walter White's greatest impact on membership was the publicity he gained for the organization with his anti-lynching reporting, his bringing of the plight and injustices African Americans faced to elected officials, and the Association's defense of black rights in cases ranging from denial of political rights to housing segregation. By the early 1920'one historian estimates that some 85% of the NAACP's budget came from African Americans themselves.
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