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The Walter White Project

Randy Stakeman, Jackson Stakeman, Authors

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Walter White becomes Acting Secretary of the NAACP

Walter White spent more than a decade as James Weldon Johnson's assistant at the NAACP.  He started first as Johnson's assistant field secretary but when Johnson became Executive Secretary in 1920 White moved up to become his assistant. The 1920's was a fruitful decade for the organization.  Membership grew to unprecedented heights during the Roaring Twenties and the organization's budget and activities increased accordingly. However after a decade that had seen the investigations of lynching and the focusing of national awareness on it, several attempts to get a federal anti-lynching law, unsuccessful attempts to promote black voting rights in the South, a  blow against housing segregation in the Ossian Sweet Case, and the defeat of a segregationist nominated for the Supreme Court named John Parker, Johnson was exhausted. He took a leave of absence in September of 1929 to attend a conference and to work on literary projects on a Rosenwald fellowship. After fourteen years devoted to nonstop work for the organization Johnson was ready for a break.

Walter White had served an apprenticeship under Johnson for eleven years and had carried out Johnson's plans with energy and verve. He was therefore the logical candidate to fill in as Acting Secretary in Johnson's absence. He was to be gone for only a year and everything seemed to be going well for the organization. White took over in September, but only a few weeks later in October the stock market crashed and the resulting Great Depression was to create a harsh new reality for White and the organization.
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