Reply to Peter Frost (part 3): The founding of the NAACP

Frost: "As a professor at Columbia, he was dealing with a regional WASP culture that still preserved the radical abolitionism of the previous century. A good example was Mary White Ovington, a founder of the NAACP "

Three people are credited as the initial instigators of the NAACP: one Northeasterner, one Southerner, and one Jew.

One man who did not approve of the mob's behavior was the wealthy Kentucky writer, William English Walling. His Jewish wife had suffered similar discrimination in Russia from anti-Semites. Walling wrote an article for the Independent, a publication that had long defended human rights, expressing his shock at Springfield's shamelessness. He described boycotts intended to drive blacks out of the city as terrorist tactics that could ultimately undermine a democratic way of life.

In response to the article, Mary White Ovington, a wealthy social worker and granddaughter of a white abolitionist, contacted Walling. Ovington had dedicated herself to solving blacks' problems. In January 1909, Ovington and Henry Moskowitz, another social worker, met with Walling in his New York apartment, where they conceived a national biracial organization of fair-minded whites and intelligent blacks to address wrongs endured by blacks. Three white people founded the NAACP.

The Southerner, William English Walling, was a socialist with a Jewish wife. Mary White Ovington was evidently also a socialist.

Ovington is described above as "wealthy", but as concerns her personal means this seems to be false, and as concerns her family it seems their business (a gift shop) experienced frequent reversals. Ovington apparently collected a salary for years as a settlement worker, and depended on a fellowship from the "Greenwich House Committee on Social Investigations" to write the book to which Boas contributed a foreword. According to Ovington herself, it was not until 1903, after hearing a speech by Booker T. Washington, that "The Negro and his problems came into my life," and she decided "to be of some help to this neglected element." This was not a cause she picked up from her parents.

Boas was a member of the committee that awarded Ovington the fellowship. Including Boas, it looks like 3 out of the 7 committee members were Jewish (the other two being E. R. A. Seligman, a son of the banker Joseph Seligman, and Vladimir Simkhovich, both also Columbia professors).

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