Today marks the 101st birthday of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). It is one of the oldest and most effective civil rights organizations, catalyzed into existence during a time of race riots, lynchings, Jim Crow laws, legalized racial segregation (see Plessy v. Ferguson) and the systematic disenfranchizement of racial minorities. Summoning sterling courage and devotion to justice, NAACP members have face a gammut of opposition ranging from U.S. Presidents to the Ku Klux Klan.
Yet the NAACP has never been, in my eyes, a politically radical group. Members have consistently strived to effect change within our system of laws, even as they spoke out forcefully and eloquently for the civil rights which the then-white majority enjoyed. In any movement for social change, there is a place for moderation (the NAACP) and for radical protest (the Black Panthers, the Nation of Islam). Each has its strengths and weaknesses, each has a legitimate contribution to make toward improving society.
The struggle for true equality is far from over. Perhaps it will never be over. But that does not relieve us of the responsibility for (and the pride in) leaving the world a better place than the one we inherited. Here is a link to the NAACP's website.