Roy Wilkins

Roy Wilkins

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Roy Wilkins was born in St. Louis on 30th August, 1901. After graduating from the University of Minnesota in 1923, with a degree in sociology, Wilkins worked as a journalist. As well as writing for the Minnesota Daily and the Kansas City Call, he was editor of the St. Paul Appeal, an African American weekly.

Wilkins was active in the NAACP and between 1931 and 1934 was assistant secretary under Walter Francis White. When William Du Bois left the organization in 1934, Wilkins replaced him as editor of Crisis.

Following the death of White in 1955, Wilkins became executive secretary of the NAACP. He participated in the March on Washington (1963), the Selma to Montgomery March (1965) and the March Against Fear (1966).

Wilkins was totally opposed to violence and disapproved of Black Power. He also rejected student demands for all-black university departments describing the idea as a "return to segregation and Jim Crow". Roy Wilkins died on 9th September, 1981. His autobiography, A Man's Life, was published in 1982.

For nine years our parents and their children have been met with either a flat refusal or a token action in school desegregation. The Civil Rights Bill now under consideration in the Congress must give new powers to the Justice Department to enable it to speed the end of Jim Crow schools, North and South.

Now, my friends, all over this land and especially in parts of the Deep South, we are beaten and kicked and maltreated and shot and killed by local and state law-enforcement officers. The Attorney General must be empowered to act on his own initiative in the denial of any civil rights, not just one or two, but any civil rights in order to wipe out this shameful situation.

Just be your presence here today we have spoken loudly and eloquently to our legislature. When we return hoome, keep up the speaking by letters and telegrams and telephone and, wherever possible, by personal visit. Remember that this has been a long fight. We were reminded of it by the news of the death yesterday in Africa of Dr. W. E. B. DuBois. Now, regardless of the fact that in his later years Dr. DuBois chose another path, it is incontrovertible that at the dawn of the twentieth century his was the voice that was calling to you to gather here today in this cause. If you want to read something that applies to 1963 go back and get a volume of The Souls of Black Folk by DuBois published in 1903.

Johnson went around the room and asked everyone for an opinion. I thought we shouldn't send any troops in until we could get some high-level civilians on the ground to see what was really going on. Others thought the President couldn't wait that long for fear of inviting the charge that he had fiddled while Detroit burned. After a little more discussion, the President announced that he was going to send a civilian team in to head the operation. Vance would lead the team, which was to include Christopher, Doar and me, from Justice, and Dan Henkin, a press spokesman, from Defense. He would send the 82nd up to Detroit, but they would be stationed outside the city, at the Michigan State Fair Grounds, until we civilians decided that they were needed.

Then Johnson delivered a fierce monologue about what he didn't want to happen. If the troops were ordered into Detroit, he didn't want them walking around with loaded guns unless their commanders thought there was a sufficient emergency for them to carry them. No bayonets. No bullets.

"I don't want my troops shooting some ni..." he glanced sharply at me and stopped. Then he started again, " - some pregnant woman."

Then he pulled a phone from its cradle by his chair under the cabinet table, handed it to Ramsey and had him call Governor Romney to inform him of the plan.

As we were being dismissed, the President touched my arm, looked at me for a long moment and then said, "Have a safe trip, Roger."

It was his way of saying that he was sorry that he had almost said "******" in front of me. I was amused, because I was sure it was one of the mainstays of his uninhibited vocabulary.

This report pursues the truth of an episode that occurred early on December 4, 1969, at 2337 West Monroe Street in Chicago, Illinois. It was a time of darkness, cold, rage, fear, and violence. Facts are not easily found in such company.

The early dawn stillness had been broken at about 4:45 a.m. by heavy gunfire, eighty rounds or more, which lasted over a period of ten minutes. When it stopped, two young men, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, were dead. Four other occupants of the premises, the Illinois Black Panther Party headquarters, were seriously wounded. Two police officers were injured, one by glass, the other by a bullet in the leg.

Approximately six shots were apparently fired as the police entered the living room through the front door - two by Sergeant Groth, three by Officer Davis, and one by Mark Clark. The FBI's ballistics analysis shows that during the remainder of the raid between seventy-seven and ninety-four shots were fired by the police - and none by the apartment's occupants. Accordingly, with the exception of one shot, the police testimony of gunfire directed at them

from the occupants must be rejected.

The death of Fred Hampton appears to the Commission to have been isolated from the killing of Mark Clark and the wounding of Brenda Harris on the one hand, and from the wounding of Ronald Satchel, Verlina Brewer, and Blair Anderson on the other. The Commission has concluded that there is probable cause to believe that Fred Hampton was murdered - that he was shot by an officer or officers who could see his prostrate body lying on the bed. Unfortunately, the inadequate investigation by the police and the other officials and their inadequate examination of the available evidence make it impossible to know which officer or officers actually fired the fatal bullets.

The Commission has been unable to determine whether the purpose, or a purpose, of the raid was specifically to kill Hampton. There is some evidence that Hampton was shot after the other occupants of the rear bedroom were removed. If that was not the sequence of events, it seems likely that he was the sole target of the police shooting from the doorway of the bedroom. Neither of those consequences, however, would establish that Hampton's death was an object of the raid.

Roy Wilkins

Roy Wilkins was a prominent African-American civil rights activist and journalist in the United States. He was the executive director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) from 1955 to 1977. Childhood and education Roy Wilkins was born on August 30, 1901, in St. Louis, Missouri. His mother died when he was five years old, then he and his siblings were sent to his aunt and uncle's home in St. Paul, Minnesota. They were poor, but he was able to attend an integrated school system. As a young man, Wilkins was a member of the local NAACP, and a reporter/night editor of a local paper while he attended college. In 1923, he received a bachelor’s degree in sociology, with a minor in journalism, from the University of Minnesota. Work life and marriage Late in the 1920s, Wilkins worked full time for the Call, a Kansas City, Missouri, publication. At that time, he met and married Aminda “Minnie” Badeau, a social worker from St. Louis. They did not have children. The couple moved to New York in 1931, when Roy was offered the position of NAACP assistant secretary. Wilkins became the editor of Crisis, the NAACP’s official magazine, in 1934 and remained in that position until 1949. In 1955, he was given the position of NAACP executive director, and quickly gained a reputation as an articulate spokesman for civil rights.

Wilkins helped to organize the 1963 March on Washington. Also during his tenure, NAACP campaigned for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Fair Housing Act of 1968. He also was consulted by four presidents. Wilkins strongly opposed militancy in the civil rights movement, as exemplified by Black Power. In 1967, Wilkins received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian decoration. Latter days In 1977, at the age of 76, Wilkins retired from the NAACP. He died on September 9, 1981. Wilkins' autobiography, Standing Fast: The Autobiography of Roy Wilkins, was published a year later.

In 1992, the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Human Justice was established at the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.

Joining the civil rights movement

In 1950, Wilkins cofounded the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a coalition of civil rights groups that included the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council. The coalition has coordinated the national legislative campaign behind every major civil rights law since the 1950s.

"The players in this drama of frustration and indignity are not commas or semicolons in a legislative thesis they are people, human beings, citizens of the United States of America." — Roy Wilkins

In 1955, Wilkins was named NAACP executive secretary (a title later changed to executive director), holding the position until 1977. One of his first actions at the helm of the organization was to support the Black-owned Tri-State Bank in Memphis, Tennessee, in granting loans to Blacks who were being denied loans at white banks.

So Minnesota: The history of civil rights leader Roy Wilkins

Joe Mazan
Updated: July 07, 2020 03:28 PM
Created: June 18, 2020 05:13 PM

From roller derby to hockey games to concerts, for decades Roy Wilkins Auditorium has hosted events in downtown St. Paul for years.

However, many don't know the history behind the building's namesake.

Roy Wilkins was born in St. Louis in 1901. Wilkins grew up in St. Paul's Rondo Neighborhood. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, he became editor of a Black newspaper. Wilkins was hired by the NAACP, eventually becoming its executive director. He called Martin Luther King Jr. a friend and took part in several notable marches of the civil rights movement.

"He was all about fighting inequality," Professor Sam Imbo, Department Chair of Philosophy at Hamline University said. "He was part of the march from Selma to Montgomery. He was part of the March on Washington in 63. He witnessed the Civil Rights Act of 64. He witnessed the passing of the Voting Rights Bill in 65."

Age, Height & Measurements

Roy Wilkins has been died on Sep 9, 1981 ( age 80). He born under the Virgo horoscope as Roy's birth date is August 30. Roy Wilkins height 5 Feet 6 Inches (Approx) & weight 326 lbs (147.8 kg) (Approx.). Right now we don't know about body measurements. We will update in this article.

Height6 Feet 1 Inches (Approx)
Weight100 lbs (45.3 kg) (Approx)
Body Measurements
Eye ColorBlack
Hair ColorBlonde
Dress SizeXXL
Shoe Size10 (US), 9 (UK), 44 (EU), 28 (CM)

(1957) Roy Wilkins, “The Clock Will Not Be Turned Back”

In 1957 Roy Wilkins, Executive Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was next to Rev. Martin Luther King, the most recognized civil rights leader in the nation. In October of that year he addressed the Commonwealth Club of California five weeks after mobs in Little Rock, Arkansas, attempted to prevent nine black students from entering Central High School. The defiant governor, Orval Faubus, called on Arkansas National Guard troops to keep the students out, but President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in federal troops to protect them. The school had been desegregated by a court order resulting from a 1954 landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education. Wilkins spoke on the crisis facing not only black Americans, but the future of the United States during the Cold War.

It is no exaggeration, I think, to state that the situation presented by the resistance to the 1954 decision of the United States Supreme Court in the public school segregation cases is fully as grave as any which have come under the scrutiny and study of the Commonwealth Club….

Little Rock brought the desegregation crisis sharply to the attention of the American people and the world. Here at home, it awakened many citizens for the first time to the ugly realities of a challenge to the very unity of our nation. Abroad, dealt a stab in the back to American prestige as the leader f the free world and presented our totalitarian enemies with made-to-order propaganda for use among the very nations and peoples we need and must have on the side of democracy . . .

The world cannot understand nor long respect a nation in which a governor calls out troops to bar little children from school in defiance of the Supreme Court of the land, a nation in which mobs beat and kick and stone and spit upon those who happen not to be white. It asks: “Is this the vaunted democracy? Is this freedom, human dignity and equality of opportunity? Is this fair play? Is this better than Communism?” No, the assertion that Little Rock has damaged America abroad does not call for sneers. Our national security might well hang in the balance….

The Negro citizens of our common country, a country they have sweated to build and died to defend, are determined that the verdict at Appomattox will not be renounced, that the clock will not be turned back, that they shall enjoy what is’ justly theirs….

Their little children, begotten of parents of faith and courage, have shown by their fearlessness and their dignity that a people will not be denied their heritage. Complex as the problem is and hostile as the climate of opinion may be in certain areas, Negro Americans are determined to press for not only a beginning, but a middle and a final solution, in good faith and with American democratic speed.
The Negro position is clear. Three years of intimidation o the meanest and most brutal of levels have not broken the’ ranks or shaken their conviction.

What of the rest of our nation? It must make a decision for morality and legality and move in support of it, not merely for the good of the Negroes, but for the destiny of the nation itself.

Already I have indicated that this is a new and dangerous world. This cold war is a test of survival for the West. The Soviet sputnik, now silent and barely visible, casts a shadow not lightly to be brushed aside. Can we meet the challenge Moscow in the sciences and in war with a country divided upon race and color? Can we afford to deny to any boy girl the maximum of education, that education which mean the difference between democratic life and totalitarian death? …

To deny our ability to achieve a just solution within the framework of our Declaration of Independence and our Bill of Rights is to deny the genius of Americans. To reject our moral precepts is to renounce our partnership with God in bringing the kingdom of righteousness into being here on earth.

Minnesota History: Roy Wilkins a quiet warrior against 'awful hatred'

It was still more than third of a century before Wilkins would begin his 22-year reign atop the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — leading the NAACP from 1955 to 1977 during a pivotal and tumultuous period in American history.

But that summer morning in Minnesota is when Wilkins “lost my innocence on race once and for all.”

The newspapers chronicled the story of black circus workers, aged 19 and 20, who had been accused of raping a young white Duluth woman in a field just behind the circus tents.

Rumors swirled through Duluth, where racial tensions already were high after U.S. Steel had brought in southern black field hands to thwart white union strike threats.

A group of more than 5,000 white protesters took to Duluth’s Superior Street, then stormed the jail and lynched three of the suspects — hanging Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie from a lamppost.

“This was Minnesota, not Mississippi,” Wilkins wrote 60 years later in his autobiography, “but every Negro in the show had been suspect in the eyes of the police and guilty in the eyes of the mob.”

Wilkins remembered thinking, for the first time, “of black people as a very vulnerable ‘us’ — and white people as an unpredictable, violent ‘them.’ ”

Wilkins would go from St. Paul’s Mechanic Arts High School to the University of Minnesota, working as a caddie, railroad waiter and in a slaughterhouse to pay his tuition. When “an unpleasant woman with two unruly kids” tipped him a nickel for serving meals all the way from St. Paul to Seattle, Wilkins recalled tossing the coin out the train window.

“It was my first real act of rebellion,” he said. “And I’ve never felt better.”

In 1922, he was still reeling from the lynchings two years earlier — when the Duluth mob showed him for the first time such “awful hatred.” So he entered the U’s prestigious Pillsbury Oratorical Contest. He became one of six finalists with his speech about the lynchings, titled “Democracy or Demonocracy?”

Judges doled out points for podium presence, rhetorical finesse and subject matter. Wilkins had studied public speaking under legendary Prof. Frank Rarig.

“He gave me lessons on how to keep a banquet audience awake while the rubber chicken is going down,” Wilkins said years later.

He was convinced he’d take first prize in the contest — “I thought I had a sure winner and I was disappointed” when he finished third and collected the $25 prize.

“But it came out to one-quarter of the tuition bill,” he said, “so I put it to good use and have been in the speaking business one way or another ever since.”

Wilkins was born in Mississippi and moved to St. Louis when he was toddler. But his mother died when he was 4 and his father sent him to St. Paul, where he was raised by an aunt and uncle in a North End neighborhood “full of Swedes and Germans, French, Irish and Jews.”

Tough Rice Street gangs would often use the n-word, “along with other brickbats,” but growing up in St. Paul showed Wilkins it was possible “for white people and black people to live next door to one another, to get along — even to love one another.”

The first black reporter at the Minnesota Daily, Wilkins went on to serve as an editor at the Appeal — a black community newspaper not far from where he grew up near Rice Street.

By 22, he left Minnesota for good. He took an editor’s job in Kansas City and then joined the NAACP’s national staff in New York in 1931. He stayed with the group for more than 45 years.

Martin Luther King Jr. and other charismatic preachers would easily eclipse Wilkins’ public profile. Wilkins was the calm, reserved leader who favored dispassionate and legal change strategies to fiery speeches.

“His patience with men of the cloth wore thin,” longtime NAACP colleague Gilbert Jonas wrote.

When King opposed the Vietnam War, the chasm between the two leaders widened. Wilkins sent a memo to NAACP chapters instructing them not to use the organization’s name in antiwar protests. King and Wilkins continued to work together, though, and combined forces to try to quell the more militant Black Power activists.

In 1962, when Wilkins celebrated 30 years with the NAACP, King wrote a letter to the man who grew up in Minnesota.

“You have proved to be one of the great leaders of our time,” he wrote. “Through your efficiency as an administrator, your genuine humanitarian concern, and your unswerving devotion to the principles of freedom and human dignity, you have carved yourself an imperishable niche in the annals of contemporary history.”

Curt Brown’s tales on Minnesota history appear each Sunday. Readers can send him ideas and suggestions at [email protected] He will be discussing his new book on the Marvy family of St. Paul, the nation’s last makers of barber poles, Feb. 17 at Common Good Books in St. Paul at 7 p.m.

What: Twenty-two years as national leader of the NAACP, co-founder of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. Advised Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter.

Born: in Mississippi and raised by an aunt and uncle in St. Paul after his mother died of tuberculosis.

Education: Whittier School, Mechanic Arts High School, University of Minnesota.

Journalistic roots: Minnesota Daily reporter, St. Paul Appeal editor, Kansas City Call editor.

Family: Married Aminda (Minnie) Badeau they had no children.

Honor: LBJ bestowed the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Wilkins in 1967.

People, Locations, Episodes

On this date in 1901, Roy Wilkins, a Black journalist and, activist, was born.

Wilkins was born in St. Louis, MO. He grew up in the home of an aunt and uncle in St. Paul, Minnesota's Rondo neighborhood a beloved racially mixed community. Though poor, he was able to attend integrated schools in the city. Wilkins majored in sociology and minored in journalism while attending the University of Minnesota, supporting himself by doing a variety of odd jobs. He also served as night editor of the Minnesota Daily (the school newspaper) and edited a Black weekly, the St Paul Appeal. After receiving his B.A. in 1923, he joined the staff of the Kansas City Call, a leading Black weekly newspaper.

While in Missouri, Wilkins gained his first insight into segregation as an entrenched system and resolved to broaden his activities in the NAACP, which he first joined while in college. In 1931, Wilkins left the Call to serve under Walter White as assistant executive secretary. A year later, he substantiated charges of discrimination on a federally financed flood control project in Mississippi and played an instrumental role in getting Congress to take action about it. In 1934, he joined a picket march in Washington, D. C., protesting the failure of the attorney general to include lynching on the agenda of a national conference on crime.

For his protest, he suffered the first arrest of his career. Also in 1934, Wilkins put his editorial talent to work for the NAACP, succeeding W. E. B. DuBois as editor of the Crisis magazine (he held this post for 15 years). In 1945, after serving as an adviser in the War Department, he was a consultant to the American delegation at the United Nations conference in San Francisco. Wilkins was named acting executive secretary of the NAACP in 1949 the year Walter White took a year's leave of absence from the organization. At the same time, he functioned as chairman of the National Emergency Civil Rights Mobilization, a pressure group that sent numerous lobbyists to Washington, D. C. to campaign for civil rights and fair employment legislation.

Wilkins assumed his position as executive secretary of the NAACP in 1955 and established himself as one of the most articulate spokesmen in the civil rights movement. He testified before countless Congressional hearings, conferred with all the presidents, and wrote extensively for a number of publications. Although Wilkins and the NAACP became more militant in the 1970s, both he and the organization were, nevertheless, subjected to attack by even more radical groups, such as the Black Muslims. He never wavered in his determination to use all constitutional means at his disposal to help Blacks achieve the rights of full citizenship within the democratic framework of American society.

For a number of years, Wilkins was the chairman of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, a group composed of over 100 national civic, labor, fraternal, and religious organizations. He was a trustee of the Eleanor Roosevelt Foundation, the Kennedy Memorial Library Foundation, and the Estes Kefauver Memorial Foundation. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Riverdale Children's Association, the John La Farge Institute, and the Stockbridge School, as well as Peace with Freedom, an international organization working toward the goals described in its name.

Among the numerous awards conferred on Wilkins were the Anti-Defamation League's American Democratic Legacy Award, the Alpha Phi Psi fraternity's Outstanding Citizen Award, the American Jewish Congress' Civil Rights Award, and the Boy Scout's Scout of the Year Award. He received the Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award of the University of Minnesota. In 1964, the NAACP honored him with its own Spingarn Medal.

Toward the end of his life, there was a reevaluation of Wilkins by younger Blacks. Recognition was given to the many positive things the NAACP had accomplished for Blacks under his leadership, and there was a growing understanding of how important he had been to Black America.

The Encyclopedia of African American Heritage
by Susan Altman
Copyright 1997, Facts on File, Inc. New York
ISBN 0-8160-3289-0


Roy Wilkins, leader of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and an activist in the cause of civil rights for more than 50 years, died yesterday at the age of 80.

The cause of Mr. Wilkins's death, at New York University Medical Center, was uremia, or kidney failure. He was admitted to the hospital Aug. 18 with a heart problem the kidney complications developed later.

In a half-century devoted to improving the social , political, and economic status of his fellow blacks, Roy Wil kins, the grandson of a Mississippi slave, became a skilled politicia n as well as statesman. Led N.A.A.C.P. for 2 Decades

His singular dedication to the cause of civil rights began when he was still in college and culminated in his forceful and productive leadership of the N.A.A.C.P. during the turbulent two decades that followed the Supreme Court school desegregation decision of 1954. He retired in 1977 after his health began to fail.

Leading the tributes to Mr. Wilkins was President Reagan, who said at the White House: ''Roy Wilkins worked for equality, spoke for freedom and marched for justice. His quiet and unassuming manner masked his tremendous passion for civil and human rights. Although Roy's death darkens our day, the accomplishments of his life will continue to endure and shine forth.''

Vice President Bush said: ''Our nation has suffered a great loss with the death of Roy Wilkins. His dedication to the poor, to those bypassed by our society and to those threatened by discrimination and hate were based upon a deep and burning conviction that all Americans must be guaranteed equality and opportunity.'' A Calm and Reasoned Man

Mayor Koch said of Mr. Wlkins: ''The special ingredient he had was an ability to convey a spirit of cooperation, affection, reasonableness, intelligence and courage. He will be missed by whites, blacks, Hispanics, everybody in this country who is decent and dedicated to better racial relationships.'' A calm and reasoning man, Mr. Wilkins did not avoid the limelight, and President s and governors sought his counsel on racial matters. But Mr. Wilki ns did avoid both words and deeds that would seem to cast him in t he role of a firebrand.

Because he believed in a racially integrated America, he fought the doctrine of separatism espoused by black militants with the same zeal that he had brought earlier to his battles with the dogmas of segregation and white supremacy. Legalistic Approach Stressed

He was the chief planner of the legal battle that resulted in the 1954 Supreme Court decision outlawing ''separate but equal'' public schools.

He did not hesitate, when he thought it would do any good, to take the civil rights cause into the streets. He was first arrested in a demonstration in 1934, and in later years he was a leader of sometimes violently resisted rights marches in Washington Selma and Montgomery, Ala. Jackson, Miss., Memphis and other cities.

But under his leadership, the N.A.A.C.P. chose a predominantly legalistic approach, using legislation and the courts as its chief weapons in the struggle for equality and constitutional rights. The Wilkins way was to work within the law, within the system, to achieve voting rights, integrated schools, fair housing laws, increased job opportunities and many other goals.

Less patient blacks, in later years, condemned that approach, made militant demands for black power and accused Mr. Wilkins of Uncle Tomism. Mr. Wilkins firmly rejected the concept of black power, saying, ''We of the N.A.A.C.P. will have none of this it shall not now poison our forward march.'' Argued Without Bombast

In the process of guiding the N.A.A.C.P., Mr. Wilkins traveled more than half of each year, visiting branches of the organization and giving lectures in which he espoused civil rights causes.

His sparse gray hair and gray mustache and his slim figure clad in conservative suits were familiar to millions of Americans who saw him on television as he argued, literately and eloquently but without bombast, for the emancipation of his people.

During his tenure as a top official of the N.A.A.C.P., membership rose from about 25,000 in 1931 to more than 400,000 in July 1977, when he retired as the organization's executive director. Annual income increased from about $80,000 to $3.6 million, and the number of N.A.A.C.P. branches rose from 690 in 1931 to about 1,700 in 1977.

Roy Wilkins was born Aug. 30, 1901, in St. Louis. His father, William, and mother, the former Mayfield Edmondson, had moved there from Holly Springs, Miss. William Wilkins was a college graduate and a Methodist minister but was forced to earn a living tending a brick kiln. Influenced by His Uncle

When he was 4 years old, Roy Wilkins's mother died of tuberculosis, and he and his younger brother and sister were sent to live with an uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Williams, in St. Paul. His uncle instilled in the youth the idea that in America blacks could get a head but that to do so it was necessary for them to adopt middleclass white attitudes, which included g etting a good education and living in a state of moral rectitude.

Perhaps because there were few blacks in St. Paul, Mr. Wilkins suffered no blatant discrimination. He attended the integrated Mechanic Arts High School and edited the school newspaper.

At the University of Minnesota, from which he was graduated in 1923, he majored in sociology and minored in journalism while supporting himself as a redcap, a slaughterhouse worker and, in summers, a Pullman car waiter.

Busy as he was, Mr. Wilkins found time to serve as night editor of the university's Minnesota Daily, to edit The St. Paul Appeal, a black weekly, and to take an active part in the N.A.A.C.P. branch.

While at Minnesota, Mr. Wilkins became incensed over the lynching of a black in Duluth and entered the university oratorical contest to deliver an impassioned anti-lynching speech, which won first prize. By graduation time, he had vowed to take part directly in the fight for black rights. Met 'Jim Crow' in Kansas City

''I needed a means of expressing my views,'' he said years later, 'ɺnd so I applied for a job on an influential Negro weekly, Chester A. Franklin's Kansas City Call. I got the job. In those days there weren't many young Negroes trained for newspaper work, and since I was, I suppose that's why I soon found myself managing editor.''

It was in Kansas City that Mr. Wilkins first met widespre ad segregation. '&#[email protected] City ate my heart out,'' he said. ''It wasn't any one melod ramatic thing. It was a slow accumulation of humiliations and grievances. I was constantly exposed to Jim Crow in the schools, movies, downtown hotels and restaurants.''

The crusading young editor used the columns of The Call to urge blacks to assert their strength at the polls, voting out of office any politicians considered white supremacists. Blacks constituted a sizable minority in Missouri, and in 1930 enough of them heeded the advice of The Call and Mr. Wilkins to vote against, and defeat, United States Senator Henry J. Allen, described by Mr. Wilkins as 'ɺ militant racist.''

The campaign brought Mr. Wilkins to the attention of Walter White, executive secretary of the N.A.A.C.P., who brought him to New York in 1931 as his chief assistant.

''One of my first jobs was to go South to investigate conditions among Negroes who were working to rebuild the levees on the Mississippi River,'' Mr. Wilkins said. ''They made 10 cents an hour. I lived in the camps and earned 10 cents an hour. We tried to sneak pictures of the work. You didn't say you were from the N.A.A.C.P. It would have meant being lynched.'' 'Slave Labor' Report Praised

The experience, which, Mr. Wilkins said, ''took all the theory out of the race relations business for me and put it on a realistic basis,'' resulted in his widely publicized 1932 report entitled ''Mississippi Slave Labor.'' It was credited with bringing Congressional action that improved wage and working conditions for blacks in the levee labor camps.

In 1934 he led the first of his dozens of demonstrations for civil rights, the picketing of the United States Attorney General's office in Washington. The picketing, undertaken because the Attorney General, Homer S. Cummings, had not included lynching on the agenda of a national conference on crime, resulted in Mr. Wilkins's first arrest for civil rights activities.

The same year Mr. Wilkins succeeded [email protected]@B. Du Bois as editor of The Crisis, the official N.A.A.C.P. magazine, while continuing as a writer, lecturer and organizer for the association. In 1949 his mentor, Mr. White, took a year's leave and Mr. Wilkins became acting executive secretary. On Mr. White's return, Mr. Wilkins became administrator of internal affairs, a post he held until Mr. White died in 1955. At that time the N.A.A.C.P. board voted unanimously to make Mr. Wilkins executive secretary, a title later changed to executive director. p.u. 1st add WILKINS OBIT

From then, Mr. Wilkins was to serve as the guiding force behind an organization that was founded in 1909 to obtain the constitutional rights of blacks and to push for full equality of the races. (The N.A.A.C.P. grew out of a memorandum issued by a group of blacks and such prominent whites as John Dewy, Rabbi Stephen S. Wise and Lincoln Steffens, who had become outraged by the widespread passage of Jim Crow legislation, denial of voting rights to blacks in the South and the rise in the number of lynchings.) Lynchings Became Chief Target

Lynchings, which occurred at a rate of about 35 a year in the early 1930's when Mr. Wilkins went to wor k for the N.A.A.C.P., were the chief targets of the organization at that tim e. ''We had to provide physical security first,'' he said.

Mr. Wilkins never won passage of one of his 'ɽream bills,'' a Federal anti-lynching bill, but, in no small part because of the educational and propaganda activities of the N.A.A.C.P., lynchings became uncommon as the years passed.

Mr. Wilkins and the N.A.A.C.P. membership could then focus their efforts on a wide variety of ills, such as discrimination in housing, segregated schools, disfranchisement and bias in employment. He once explained his approach in attacking those inequities:

''The Negro has to be a superb diplomat and a great strategist. He has to parlay what actual power he has along with the good will of the white majority. He has to devise and pursue those philosophies and activities which will least alienate the white majority opinion. And that doesn't mean that the Negro has to indulge in bootlicking. But he must gain the sympathy of the large majority of the American public. He must also seek to make an identification with the American tradition.''

With these tenets in mind, Mr. Wilkins became the chief exponent of the use of constitutional means to achieve black civil rights. He sought to involve Presidents, governors, mayors, legislatures and the courts in the legislative framework for integration. His Greatest Satisfaction

He was the architect of the legal assault on school segregation that culminated in a monument to the Wilk ins method, the historic 1954 Supreme Court decision that overturned the doctrine of ''separate bu t equal'' facilities in public education.

The integration case was argued before the Supreme Court by the N.A.A.C.P.'s general counsel, Thurgood Marshall, who later became an Associate Justice of the Court. Mr. Wilkins said the decision gave him his greatest satisfaction because ''it reaffirmed the constitutional rights of Negroes as equal citizens and was the greatest document since Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.''

Mr. Wilkins was one of the of most able and articulate spokesmen for blacks, and often conferred with Presidents, gave his views on civil rights matters to Congressional committees and stumped the country to persuade his fellow Americans, in his quiet but firm way, to accept one another on equal terms.

He was an optimist who counseled blacks to be proud to be Americans. ''We do not cry out bitterly that we love another land better than our own or another people better than our own,'' he told the N.A.A.C.P. national convention in 1949. ''This is our land. This is our nation. We helped to build it. We have defended it from Boston Common to Iwo Jima.'' A More Militant Call

Those were comforting and comfortable sentiments, but in later decades, with the burgeoning of the civil rights movement, with the procession of events from Montgomery's bus boycott, the lunch counter sit-ins in the South, the marches in Selma and the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Roy Wilkins sounded a progressively militant call.

''We condemn the propaganda that Negro citizens must ⟪rn' their rights through good behavior,'' he said on one occasion. ''Good behavior wins the respect of our fellow citizens, which we value and seek, but no American is required to ⟪rn' his rights as a citizen. His human rights come from God and his citizenship rights come from the Constitution.''

On another occasion he said, ''Negroes want in in American society, and they want the ways opened now.'' And, testifying in 1963 in support of the public accommodations section of President Kennedy's civil rights bill, Mr. Wilkins said bluntly:

''The players in this drama of frustration and indignity are not commas or semicolons in a legislative thesis. They are people, human beings, citizens. They are in a mood to wait no longer, at least not to wait patiently and silently and inactively.''

The rhetoric was militant, yet Mr. Wilkins continued to adhere to his belief that social justice could best be won by constitutional means. That attitude, in the late 1960's, angered some young black militants. 'Ungrateful and Forgetful'

He reacted with cool disdain, calling his attackers ''unfair, ungrateful and forgetful.'' ''In my youth, goddamn it,'' he said in an interview in 1969, ''there were no demonstrations and parades. Who the hell did it? Who got them to allow the demonstrations? What is allowed today is affected by today's climate - the opportunities opened up for the kids by the people taking part in the civil rights fight 20 years ago. It used to be that picketing, except for a labor cause, was against the law. We went to court over that a nd won the right for these kids to march and picket now. I underst and their impatience. I share it, but they should have some idea what it has taken to get them their right to raise hell.''

Having spent all his adult life battling for racial integration, Mr. Wilkins opposed the young militants' demand for separatism. He denounced black students for carrying guns on the Cornell University campus and threatened to challenge in the courts the concept espoused by some black students of separate courses of black studies and segregated black dormitories.

''If the country gives racial control to a dormitory or an art center,'' he said, 'ɿinally everything in the country will be racially controlled and we'll be right back at the point where we started.''

He condemned the concept of 'ɻlack power'' as ''the father of hatred and the mother of violence,'' and added: 'ɻlack power, in the quick, uncritical and highly emotional adoption it has received from some segments of a beleaguered people, can mean only black death. Even if it should be enthroned briefly, the human spirit would die a little.'' A Man of Stamina

Mr. Wilkins enjoyed the constant controversy he seemed to be in, partly, he once said, because ''I retain remarkable stamina even when in hot water up to my second chin.'' In 1946 he underwent surgery for cancer of the stomach but managed to snap back to health, although he had to give up his chain-smoking of cigars and the occasional bourbon and water he enjoyed. He gave so much time to his job that he had no hobbies except d riving his high-powered sports car.

In the 1970's Mr. Wilkins was critical of both the Nixon and Ford Administrations. He was one of several N.A.A.C.P. officials to assert that President Nixon had ''turned back the clock on racial progress'' with his appointment of ''strict constructionists'' to the Supreme Court, ''separationist'' education policies and ''weakening'' of the enforcement of civil rights laws.

Mr. Wilkins was in the forefront of the successful effort to persuade the Ford Administration not to use the Boston school busing case in 1976 as a vehicle for seeking reconsideration by the Supreme Court of busing as a means of integration. And the N.A.A.C.P. chief later lambasted President Ford for proposing legislation to restrict the power of the courts to order busing as a remedy for segregated schools. He criticized the proposals as a 'ɼraven, cowardly, despicable retreat.''

Nor did Mr. Wilkins countenance what he regarded as oppression by blacks. He was one of a number of black American leaders who jointly castigated then President Idi Amin of Uganda for his ''savage'' repression of human rights. Resisted Ouster Moves

By the early 1970's Mr. Wilkins had to beat back several attempts within the N.A.A.C.P. to wrest leadership from him. Some younger members charged that he had failed to change with the times and had outlived his usefulness in the movement, leaving the association adrift. But Mr. Wilkins insisted on retaining the reins of the N.A.A.C.P., saying that he had the experience ''to move our people forward.''

After acrimonious and sometimes public feuding over the organization's policies and management and its financial and membership problems, as well as the timing of his departure, the ailing Mr. Wilkins retired after the 68th annual convention in July 1977. He had served the association 46 years, 22 as the man in charge of the N.A.A.C.P. in St. Louis.

Mr. Wilkins was succeeded by the Rev. Benjamin L. Hooks, who resigned from the Federal Communications Commission to take the post. But few observers of civil rights organizations expect that Mr. Hooks or any other individual will again hold the unquestioned power within the N.A.A.C.P. that was wielded by Mr. Wilkins in earlier decades.

Mr. Hooks said yesterday: ''Mr. Wilkins was a towering figure in American history and during the time he headed the N.A.A.C.P. It was during this crucial period that the association was faced with some of its most serious challenges and the whole landscape of the black condition in America was changed, radically, for the better.''

Vernon E. Jordan, president of the National Urban League, said: ''Roy Wilkins was a giant whose contributions over a lifetime of dedicated service to the cause of equality leave us all in debt. He led the N.A.A.C.P. through a period of national change and kept it in the forefront of the struggle to integrate our society.'' 'Inspired and Inspiring Leader'

In Chicago, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Operation PUSH praised Mr. Wilkins as 'ɺ man of integrity, intelligence and courage who, with his broad shoulders, bore more than his share of responsibility for our and the nation's advancement.''

Be rtram H. Gold, executive vice president o f the American Jewish Committee, called Mr. Wilkins 'ɺn inspired a nd inspiring leader, whose aspirations of yesterday became today's realities.''

Ramsey Clark, a former Attorney General of the United States, praised Mr. Wilkins as 'ɺ man of gentleness and integrity who enriched all our lives with justice.'' He added, ''We have to hope from his example that a new generation can find inspiration in the principles to which he devoted his life.''

On behalf of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, Dr. David Hyatt, its president, said of Mr. Wilkins: ''He had a diplomat's skill and he had the respect of our nation's citizenry, from governmental and business leaders to the man and woman in the community. His contributions to America are immeasurable.'' Honored by Queens College

Mr. Wilkins was awarded an honorary doctor's degree by Queens College in 1978. The citation accompanying the degree said his ''strength and stability'' were 'ɺn inspiration to the world.'' And he was among 17 elderly blacks honored by President Carter at a White House luncheon.

''You have helped to write history,'' Mr. Carter told his guests, 'ɺnd you have proved that the strength of the human spirit can achieve excellence even in the face of extraordinary obstacles.''

Mr. Wilkins lived in Queens Village with his wife, the former Aminda Badeau, a soci al worker he met in St. Louis and married in 1929. They ha d no children.

Whitney Young, Jr. (1921–1971)

Bettmann Archive / Getty Images

Whitney Moore Young Jr. was a social worker by trade who rose to power in the civil rights movement because of his commitment to ending employment discrimination.

The National Urban League was established in 1910 to help Black people find employment, housing, and other resources once they’d reached urban environments as part of the Great Migration. The mission of the organization was “to enable African Americans to secure economic self-reliance, parity, power and civil rights.” By the 1950s, the organization was still in existence but was considered a passive civil rights organization.

But when Young became the organization’s executive director in 1961, his goal was to expand the NUL’s reach. Within four years, the NUL went from 38 to 1,600 employees and its annual budget rose from $325,000 to $6.1 million.  

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