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The Walter White Project

Randy Stakeman, Jackson Stakeman, Authors
Walter White Biography, page 15 of 17

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Walter White's Last Years with the NAACP

After his remarriage it was an open question as to whether the Association would accept Walter White back as its executive secretary when his leave of absence was over in May, 1950. White's biographer Kenneth Janken found a new distrust of him,

Typical was Lucille Miller, a veteran rank-and-file race woman...She used to think that the secretary was a man of solid morals and great integrity; but now "it leaves me speechless to learn that Mr. White has been another of those philandering husbands."  While she appreciated his past accomplishments, she firmly opposed his return because "most certainly he cannot be trusted..."

Several members of the NAACP board similarly opposed White's return. Then there was the question of whether White would even want to return.  He enjoyed his work as a radio pundit speaking about global human rights not just American civil rights. The wear and tear of the daily running of the Association, the stress, travel and the long hours, as well as the lifestyle he led,  had all taken their toll upon his body.  Would his health even permit a return? His family and friends encouraged him to find something less stressful.

In the end he returned to the Association and they accepted him.  None of the other avenues opened up for him and indeed he found that it was his association with the NAACP that created any demand for him as a spokesman.  The majority of the board, especially his friend Eleanor Roosevelt,  prevailed in not sacrificing the symbolic leadership role, the effective lobbying, and the continuity with its past that Walter White represented. The executive secretary's job was split with Roy Wilkins now handling the day to day running of the organization freeing White to do what he did best: being the public face of the Association.

Arthur Spingarn, an NAACP board member, had accepted White back because he thought White only had 6 to 8 years left.  It turned out he didn't even have that many.  His final tenure was punctuated by heart attacks in 1952 and 1954 which hospitalized him. Stripped of his old control over all the affairs of the Association he was a symbolic gadfly those last few years, only a shadow of his former self.  Although there were times he seemed liked his energetic self, his health and his new found home life took up more time than they previously did. The constant and intense lobbying was a thing of the past although he did write, make speeches and public appearances.

The period from 1950 to 1955 did mark several notable occurrences:
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