The Blackman Read Aloud Project
The Clock Will Not Be Turned Back
In the 1950s' and 1960s' black leadership for the struggle for civil rights comprised of the Big Four Organizations, the NAACP, Urban League, CORE, and SCLC. Some will say the Big Six if you include SNCC and the National Organization of Negro Women. The leaders were Roy Farmer (CORE), Whitney Young (Urban League), Dr. Martin Luther King (SCLC), Dorothy Height (National Organization of Negro Women), John Lewis (SNCC) and the leader of the most powerful organization Roy Wilkins (NAACP). These leaders met on a monthly basis to establish strategies and procedures in the struggle to attain civil and equal rights for peoples of color in this nation.
Today, we celebrate the 119th birthday of Mr. Roy Wilkins, who was followed Walter White as the Executive Director of the National Association For The Advancement Of Colored People. Roy Wilkins served in that capacity of Executive Director for the NAACP for 22 years from 1955 through 1977. During that period of time, Roy Wilkins shepherded the NAACP through some of the most critical struggles for civil rights in this nation. Roy Wilkins was a strict integrationist. Roy Wilkins felt that only through integration would colored people in this nation gain any level of civil or equal rights.
Although looking back through 20/20 hindsight many people in our communities of color may now question the actions and strategies of the NAACP in relationship to the goal of racial integration. No one should ever question the grit, determination, willpower or desire of Mr. Roy Wilkins to expend every ounce of his energies seeking equality for colored people of this nation.
63 years ago in October 1957, Roy Wilkins gave a speech that is just as relevant in 2020 as it was in 1957. As many in our nation are calling for a return to the bygone days of white supremacy. Roy Wilkins told an audience of white and black people that the clock of racial injustice and racial neglect would not be turned back. That same message should be on the lips of every American today. This nation can ill afford to make the same mistakes of divisiveness and racial hatred that tore this nation apart. We must begin to truly mend the fences of the racial divide and create a nation of antiracists committed to the goal of a unified society.
In 1957 Roy Wilkins, Executive Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was next to Rev. Martin Luther King, the most recognized civil rights leader in the nation. In October of that year, he addressed the Commonwealth Club of California five weeks after mobs in Little Rock, Arkansas, attempted to prevent nine black students from entering Central High School. The defiant governor, Orval Faubus, called on Arkansas National Guard troops to keep the students out, but President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in federal troops to protect them. The school had been desegregated by a court order resulting from a 1954 landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education. Wilkins spoke on the crisis facing not only black Americans but the future of the United States during the Cold War. So America understands that even in these dire times of racial conflicts. When some people are actually contemplating turning back the historical clock on our freedoms and liberties. This will never happen because black people of sound minds and hearts will awaken and not allow any rollback on justice. This I firmly believe. However, we must ensure that our children READ, READ, READ, LEARN, LEARN, LEARN to ensure that they understand what battles our ancestors have been fought and won. So that those battles need not be fought again.