The NAACP has a rich history in the United States working for the equality of people of color and the organization has played an important role in Colorado Springs since 1918. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is civil rights organization formed in 1909 with the mission of advocating for equal justice for African Americans. The organization was started by early civil rights leaders W. E. B. DuBois, Mary White Ovington, Moorfield Storey and Ida B. Wells. Since its founding, the NAACP mission statement has evolved to include issues of police misconduct, questions of economic development and the status of black foreign refugees to “ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.”
The Colorado Springs branch of the NAACP was chartered in November 1918 at Payne Chapel east of downtown Colorado Springs. Led by Reverend A. Wayman Ward, Colorado Springs African Americans organized the local branch to promote political, social and economic equality in the Pikes Peak region. Throughout the 1930s, local NAACP members worked diligently to organize both black and Latino activists into a political force to face off discrimination and increase opportunities for local people of color. This effort was led by outspoken activists Kimbal Stroud Goffman and Charles Banks who would go on to become one of the city’s most important racial leaders.
As a national force, the NAACP has been influential in all aspects and iterations of the modern American Civil Rights movement helping to end segregationist Jim Crow laws and advocate for the passage the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts of 1964 and 1965, respectively. Today, national NAACP initiatives continue to shape how the country treats racial minorities and include political lobbying for the advancement of African Americans and litigation efforts backing victims of hate crimes and police brutality.
In 2012, a bomb was left outside the unoccupied headquarters of the Colorado Springs NAACP branch. The pipe bomb exploded in the early hours of the morning, fortunately hurting no one and causing minimal damage to the building. The crime was investigated by the FBI as a possible terrorist attack and months later police arrested and charged a local suspect.
In Colorado Springs the NAACP continues to play an important role in the activist community regularly partnering with other local non-profits to promote their mission of racial justice and economic equality in the city.
Generously Submitted by Alex Archuleta, Historian