The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
(NAACP) is the nation's oldest civil rights organization, having
dedicated itself to the fight for racial equality since 1909. While
the group helped achieve substantial victories in the courtroom,
the struggle for civil rights extended beyond gaining political
support. It also required changing social attitudes. The NAACP thus
worked to alter existing prejudices through the production of art
that countered racist depictions of African Americans, focusing its
efforts not only on changing the attitudes of the white middle
class but also on encouraging racial pride and a sense of identity
in the black community.
Art for Equality explores an important and little-studied side
of the NAACP's activism in the cultural realm. In openly supporting
African American artists, writers, and musicians in their creative
endeavors, the organization aimed to change the way the public
viewed the black community. By overcoming stereotypes and the
belief of the majority that African Americans were physically,
intellectually, and morally inferior to whites, the NAACP believed
it could begin to defeat racism.
Illuminating important protests, from the fight against the 1915
film The Birth of a Nation to the production of anti-lynching art
during the Harlem Renaissance, this insightful volume examines the
successes and failures of the NAACP's cultural campaign from 1910
to the 1960s. Exploring the roles of gender and class in shaping
the association's patronage of the arts, Art for Equality offers an
in-depth analysis of the social and cultural climate during a time
of radical change in America.
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