Historic Photos

Photo of the Week, 53: Bloomington-Normal Branch of the NAACP, 1944

February 6th, 2014

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the nation's foremost African-American civil rights organization, chartered its Bloomington-Normal branch in 1918, likely making it the first such chapter in Illinois.Seen here is a 1944 meeting of the local NAACP gathered at 318 South Main Street, a former sprawling single family residence that would in a few years time become the Twin City Recreation Center. This building was torn down in the 1960s as part of an urban renewal project to make way for the current Bloomington City Hall.Front row, left to right: John R. Ford; Harriet Allen; Joseph Henderson; Delores Shavers; Mabel Henderson; Carrie Wakefield; Golden Manuel; Beulah Kennedy; John Henderson; and Buzz Thomas. Second row, left to right: Kathryn Dean; Lela Brown; A.J. Henderson; Caribel Washington; Edward Thomas; W.S. Caldwell; Carson Terrill; and Aubrey Hursey.In addition to the year (1944), there are other clues that this photograph dates to the Second World War. Note the line of flags representing the Allied nations fighting alongside the U.S., Great Britain and the Soviet Union during the war. These flags, normally displayed in the McLean County Courthouse, are now held in the collections of the Museum. Also next to the right rear door one can see an NAACP “Back Him Up!" poster urging folks to support African Americans in military service.The Museum Archives contain the Bloomington-Normal Black History Project Collection with additional information on the local NAACP chapter and many of the individuals pictured here. See the BNBHP collection finding aid here.

Bill Kemp


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