The cultural campaigns of the NAACP: 1910-1955

Woodley, Jenny (2009) The cultural campaigns of the NAACP: 1910-1955. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) used a wide range of strategies for securing racial equality. These included some perhaps surprising tactics: it encouraged black writers and artists, published poems and plays, organised an art exhibition, picketed cinemas and dined with Hollywood moguls. This thesis explores the NAACP's involvement with and use of the arts and popular culture between 1910 and 1955. It asks why the NAACP developed a culturalf strategy, what this strategy was and how it was implemented, and what it reveals about the NAACP as an organisation during the first half of the twentieth century.

The NAACP believed that racial inequality was caused by racial prejudice. In other words, African Americans suffered political, social and economic discrimination because of the attitudes of white Americans toward the race. These attitudes were formed in large part by the depiction of blacks in American culture. Therefore, the NAACP hoped that if it could change the representation of the race then it could alter white prejudices and achieve racial equality. The NAACP challenged what it considered to be negative cultural representations of African Americans and sought to replace them with positive images. It saw the creation of 'high' culture as a signifier of a group's status and believed the production of fine art and literature could be used to prove that African Americans 'deserved' equal rights. Furthermore, it used culture to instil racial pride and to forge a sense of a collective black identity. The arts were also utilised to change attitudes on specific issues, most notably to encourage anti-lynching sentiment amongst whites. The NAACP believed that culture could be used as a weapon in the fight for racial equality.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: King, R.H.
Ling, P.J.
Keywords: NAACP, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, racial equality, culture, W.E.B. Du Bois
Subjects: E History - America > E151 United States (General)
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of American and Canadian Studies
Item ID: 11839
Depositing User: EP, Services
Date Deposited: 28 Feb 2011 11:02
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 14:03
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/11839

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