“This book is very important in the wider context of related scholarship in the modern-day civil rights movement because it will be the first on the youth perspective in the NAACP. . . . I believe that it will be widely used by scholars and the general public.”—Linda Reed, author of Simple Decency and Common Sense: The Southern Conference Movement, 1938-1963
“A recent trend in the historiography of the civil rights movement is the increased understanding of the role that young people played in the right for equality. . . . Bynum has filled a gap in the civil rights literature in this short book.” —Choice
Historical studies of black youth activism have until now focused almost exclusively on the activities of the Congress Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). However, the NAACP youth councils and college chapters predate both of those organizations. Thomas Bynum carefully examines the activism of the NAACP youth and effectively refutes the perception of the NAACP as working strictly through the courts. His research illuminates the many direct-action activities undertaken by the young people of the NAACP—activities that helped precipitate the breakdown of racial discrimination and segregation in America. He also explores the evolution of the youth councils and college chapters, including their sometime rocky relationship with the national office, and captures the successes, failures, and challenges the NAACP youth groups experiences at the national, state, and local levels.
Thomas Bynum is an assistant professor of history at Middle Tennessee State University.