National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Dinner

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Mother and child on steps of Supreme Court following Brown v. Board of Education decision.

This episode is from the WNYC archives. It may contain language which is no longer politically or socially appropriate.

The dinner sponsored by the Legal Defense and Education Fund of the NAACP. This is the organization's second observance of the Supreme Court's decision declaring racial discrimination in public education unconstitutional.

Dr. Ralph Bunche, Undersecretary of the United Nations, acts as the Master of Ceremonies for the evening. The invocation is offered by Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, Pastor Emeritus of Riverside Church. Civil rights activists Rosa Parks and Coretta Scott King are in attendance. They are acknowledged but do not speak. Bunche talks about Parks' case, the Montgomery bus boycott and he comments on her "peaceful outlook and disposition." Parks is applauded by the assembled. Mrs. King is introduced as Dr. King's "charming helpmate." She too is applauded.

Dr. Bunche continues noting that Mayor Robert Wagner has declared the day one of thanksgiving and gratitude in honor of the Court's decision. Bunche discusses related civil rights cases as well as heightened tensions. He says, through the civil rights struggle "the American Negro" has always followed the democratic process. Bunche introduces NAACP attorney and Director Counsel Thurgood Marshall whose batting average before the Supreme Court, he says, has been phenomenal.

Marshall talks about the need to bring practice into line with the law where integration is concerned. Civil rights leader Dr. Channing Tobias presents former New York Governor and now U.S. Senator Herbert Lehman with the Phillip Murray Award. The award is given annually by the NAACP to an individual or organization who has contributed greatly to the cause of improving race relations. Senator Lehman accepts the award and says he is deeply grateful for the honor and talks about the civil rights struggle.

Dr. Bunche introduces NAACP President Arthur Springarn and then talks about singer Muriel Smith in various stage productions. Smith then sings, Oh Thou My Well Beloved, The Lost One, I Would Find Thee Again. Dr. Bunche acknowledges the presence of Rev. Martin Luther King Sr. and his wife. NAACP Executive Secretary Roy Wilkins is introduced. He continues with the followup to the Supreme Court ruling on school desegregation. The 27-year-old Reverend Dr. King is introduced by Dr. Bunche.

Dr. King delivers the evening's keynote speech by taking "a realistic look at the progress of race relations" as well as discussing the story of the Montgomery bus boycott. King says, "There is a new Negro in the South with a new sense of dignity and destiny...We have come to see now old man segregation is on his deathbed...but we are far from the Promised Land."

Editor's Note: The King portion of this broadcast has been edited out, for the moment, pending permission to use this copyrighted segment from the King Center in Atlanta. Those interested in reading Dr. King's original remarks from this event can find them at:

Audio courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives WNYC Collection

WNYC archives id: 72695
Municipal archives id: LT7416