Mar 25, 2021 - Sale 2562

Sale 2562 - Lot 152

Price Realized: $ 4,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,500 - $ 2,500
(CIVIL RIGHTS.) Archive of NAACP correspondence from James Weldon Johnson, Walter White and more. 50 items in one folder: 43 letters addressed to Isadore Martin as president of the Philadelphia chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (most from Walter White and James Weldon Johnson), and 7 typescript carbons of responses retained by Martin; generally minor wear and toning. Vp, 1923-44

Additional Details

The author and activist James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), best known as the lyricist of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," wrote 7 of these letters--most in his official capacity as Executive Secretary of the NAACP between 1921 and 1929. He also sent a 1933 letter signed as "Jim" on the letterhead of Fisk University, regretting that he would be unable to attend the next board meeting, and hoping that Joel Spingarn may be convinced to remain as president.

33 of the letters (including 3 postcards and one incomplete unsigned letter) are from Walter F. White (1893-1955) as assistant secretary from 1923 to 1930, and then as Johnson's successor as Executive Secretary through 1944. Some of these relate to specific civil rights cases: investigating discrimination at a Philadelphia junior high school pool on 11 October 1923, or celebrating progress on "Jim Crow coaches on the Havana Special out of Pennsylvania Station" on 24 June 1931. Other letters discuss possible conference speakers such as Jane Addams, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Clarence Darrow. His 29 April 1932 letter looks back on history regarding a memorial to John Brown at Harper's Ferry: "We might as well close up shop if we do not challenge soon and vigorously this more or less united and organized campaign to discredit the Abolitionists, the Negro and everything the N.A.A.C.P. stands for."

Among the other letters is a Letter Signed from NAACP co-founder Mary White Ovington (1865-1951), acknowledging birthday greetings, New York, 11 April 1935.