In March of 1911, the NAACP held its 2nd Annual Conference at Park Street Church in Boston which resulted in the creation of the Boston Branch of the NAACP. On February 8, 1912 just under 60 Black and White Bostonians gathered at Park Street Church to receive the official Branch charter inscribed with the following statement of purpose:
“To uplift the colored men and women of this country by securing to them the full enjoyment of their rights as citizens, justice in all courts, and equality of opportunity everywhere.”
Today, the Boston Branch is recognized as the first “chartered” branch of the NAACP. We are the oldest and largest all volunteer civil rights organization in Boston dedicated to the elimination of racial discrimination. Throughout our history the Boston Branch has been instrumental in helping to shape the governance, policies and advoacy of the NAACP.
In 1910 when the NAACP elected its first Board of Directors and leadership team, prominent Boston lawyer Moorfield Storey was named President. Attorney Storey, like most of the early leadership of the NAACP was white. Given the times and circumstances, this was not uncommon for anti-racist and anti-discrimination groups of that era. Notably, the only Black executive of the NAACP in 1910 was W.E.B. DuBois, the historian, thought leader and activist from Great Barrington, MA, was responsible for the communications and research of the organization. His work led to the establishment of the NAACP Crisis Magazine, which is still published to this day.
As the NAACP led and won many of the civil rights battles of the 20th century, making it more safe for Black people to sit in leadership seats within this organization and others like it, the operations and leadership of the NAACP has shifted solidly into the hands of Black leaders. All the while never forgetting the role that white activists played in supporting the work in the early years of the struggle when it was not safe for Black people to do so.
Because of the influence of Boston area activists on the national level of the NAACP since its inception it is not surprising that the Boston Branch, working with pro bono lawyers and other volunteers, was instrumental in bringing historic anti-discriminiation lawsuits against the City of Boston, paving the way for school desegregation, housing desegregation and the desegregation of both the Boston Police and Boston Fire Departments. The landmark decisions received by the Boston Branch in favor of racial integration has helped improve the quality of life and increase opportunities for Black people in the city, and made our neighborhoods more welcoming to other people of color who have followed.
Today, the Boston Branch is one of the largest branches in New England. We hold monthly meetings at The Freedom House a cornerstone in Boston's Black community founded in 1949. Our monthly open discussions focus on racial equity in education, economic justice, voting rights and access, the elimination of health disparities, and criminal justice reform.
Though our fight for racial justice and equality remains strong, our approach to addressing systemic racism has evolved. We are a 21st century organization, advocating for 21st century solutions to the systemic racism that has plagued the Black community since we hit the shores of Jamestown in August 1619.
On the pages of this site you will learn more about our current work to help eliminate racial disparities and to make freedom and justice ring true for all. We invite you to attend a meeting and join one of our committees to strengthen the City of Boston. This is our city, and together we will create a city where we can all live, work and thrive.