Roy Wilikins

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Last updated: May 7, 2019

Roy Wilkins was born in St. Louis, Missouri on August 30, 1901. His mother died when he was four years old.

Wilkins and his siblings had to relocate to St. Paul, Minnesota to be raised by their aunt and uncle. They lived in a poor community, but although Wilkins was poor, that didn’t stop him from having high aspirations. Wilkins attended and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Sociology in 1921. In 1929, he married Aminda “Minnie” Badeau who worked as a social worker.The couple didn’t have any children of their own, but raised the children of a woman named Hazel Wilkins-Colton. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Wilkins worked as a Journalist at The Minnesota Daily and became Editor of The Appeal, an African-American newspaper.

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After graduation he became the Editor of the Kansas City Call. During the years 1931-1934, Wilkins worked as an assistant for the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) undersecretary Walter Francis White.In 1934, Wilkins succeeded the famous W. E. B Du Bois as Editor of “The Crisis” the official magazine of the NAACP. During the years 1949-1950, he chaired the National Emergency Civil Rights Mobilization, which omprised more than 100 local and national groups.

In 1950, Wilkins along with A. Philip Randolph and Arnold Aronson founded the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR). The LCCR has become the premier civil rights coalition, and has coordinated the National Legislative Campaign on behalf of every major civil rights law since 1957.

He was known as an eloquent spokesperson for the civil rights movement. One of his first duties was to provide support to civil rights activists in Mississippi who were being subjected to a “credit squeeze” by members of the White Citizens Councils. Wilkins participated in the March on Washington in 1963, the Selma to Montgomery marches 1965, and the March Against Fear in 1966. He believed in accomplishing improvement by legislative means. He appeared before many Congressional hearings and spoke with Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter.Wilkins strongly opposed militancy in the movement for civil rights as characterized by the “Black Power” movement. In 1964, he was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP. In 1967, Wilkins was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Lyndon Johnson.

During his tenure, the NAACP played a crucial role in leading the nation into the Civil Rights movement and spearheaded the efforts hat led to significant civil rights victories: Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.In 1977, at age 76, Wilkins retired from the NAACP and was succeeded by Benjamin Hooks. He died on September 9, 1981 at the age of 80. Wilkins was known for his accomplishments.

In 1982, Wilkins had an autobiography published “Standing Fast: The Autobiography of Roy Wilkins”. The Roy Wilkins Centre for Human Relations and Human Justice was established in the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs in 1992. Roy Wilikins By tonymontana69

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