Thursday, December 13, 2007


WHITE, WALTER Born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1893, Walter White was the Executive Secretary of the NAACP between 1931-55. In this capacity, he directed the NAACP's legal attack against public school segregation which was culminated in 1954 with the historic Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. His influence was also instrumental in persuading President Harry S. Truman to desegregate the American armed forces in 1948.

Before his appointment as Executive Secretary, White served the NAACP from 1918 to 1931 as an assistant secretary and, more interesting, as an undercover agent. Being a blonde-haired blue-eyed mulatto, he had little difficulty in "passing" as a white man. Often assuming the role of a white reporter, he made repeated trips into the South to investigate lynchings and other manifestations of racial discrimination for the NAACP. His effectiveness in gaining the confidence of "other whites" was phenomenal. On one occasion, a southern sheriff made him his "deputy," powered to "kill niggers" at will, while in Georgia he was actually invited to join the Ku Klux Klan. These ex­periences provided White with an abundance of material which he subsequently incorporated into several of the half-dozen books he published. His most famous works were Rope and Faggot: A Biography of Judge Lynch (1929) and an auto­biography entitled A Man Called White (1948). Walter Francis White died in 1955.

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