Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name



Pan-African Studies

Degree Program

Pan-African Studies, MA

Committee Chair

Rajack-Talley, Theresa

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Kinchen, Shirletta

Committee Member

Kinchen, Shirletta

Committee Member

Fosl, Cate


National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Youth Council; Civil rights movements--Kentucky--Louisville--20th century; African Americans--Civil rights--Kentucky--Louisville--History--20th century; African American youth--Kentucky--Louisville


Utilizing the archival Papers of the NAACP, The Louisville Leader, and The Crisis, this thesis narrates the history of the youth arm of the NAACP in Louisville, Kentucky, from 1937 until 1955, previously undocumented in the written record. First organized in September 1937, the Louisville NAACP Youth Council, alongside the college chapter at Louisville Municipal College, sponsored an anti-lynching campaign in 1938. The Youth Council also attended the 29th annual NAACP conference in 1938, and sent a delegate to the National Anti-War Youth Congress in 1939. These activities were situated in a historical moment that saw the proliferation of interracial coalitions, and were reflective of a youth activist trend in the 1930s that centered on protesting racism at home and fascism abroad. During the first half of the 1940s, war and migration influenced the Louisville NAACP youth arm’s political activity. Divided into a West End Youth Council and an East End Youth Council, the groups centered their work on protesting educational inequities and agitating for increased political rights for African Americans. In the postwar period, with the emergence of an interracial college chapter, the youth continued to campaign for racial equality, but their activities would curtail, and ultimately end, by the Red Scare that swept the country from the late 1940s to the early 1950s. One of the first studies of a local NAACP youth group, this thesis offers a contribution to the literature on black youth activism during the early period of the Civil Rights Movement and the role of the NAACP in the black freedom struggle. The findings highlight the significance of social location in research on social movements.