February is Black History Month and a wonderful time to celebrate the achievements of African Americans, and recognize the role African Americans have played in shaping American history.
Black History Month is also a great opportunity to celebrate the National Consumers League’s historical connection to the Civil Rights Movement. NCL supported racial equality from the beginning; Florence Kelley, NCL’s first leader, was a founding member of the NAACP. During the New Deal, NCL called for including domestic and agricultural workers in labor laws and social security programs, and was alone among women’s groups in demanding racial justice. Lucy Mason, head of the League during the 1930s, also served on the NAACP’s board, and cautioned against “that tendency to believe that the colored worker needs less than the white worker.”
In honor of Back History Month, here are just a few events that helped shape the American workplace and secure equal treatment for consumers and workers across the nation. The events not only celebrate the many African American leaders and activists, but also serve to underscore the remarkable achievements we have made toward racial equality as a country in the past century:
1909: The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is formed on February 12 in New York City
1910: The National Urban League is founded in New York City on September 29. The Urban League is organized to help African Americans secure employment and adjust to urban life
1925: The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, a labor union organized by African American employees of the Pullman Company, was formed with Civil Rights leader A. Philip Randolph as its first president
1941: On June 25, President Franklin Roosevelt issues Executive Order 8802, desegregating war production plants and creating the Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC).
1954: On May 17, the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education declares segregation in all public schools in the United States unconstitutional
1954: Attorney Frankie Muse Freeman (born Marie Frankie Muse), serves as lead attorney for the NAACP in Davis et al. v. the St. Louis Housing Authority , which ended racial discrimination in public housing in the city. Freeman was the first black woman to win a major civil rights case
1964: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is passed by Congress on July 2. The act bans discrimination in all public accommodations and by employers and establishes the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) to monitor compliance with the law.
1968: Congress enacts the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which outlaws discrimination in the sale and rental of housing.
NCL proudly acknowledges Black History Month, salutes the accomplishments of all of the great historical figures and leaders who have worked for justice and equality for all, and looks to the future for the many equal rights achievements still to come!