Civil Rights leader and former Executive Director of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Roy Wilkins was born on August 30, 1901 in St. Louis, Missouri. Wilkins graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1923. He began work as a journalist for the Minnesota Daily and became editor for an African American newspaper named “The St. Paul Appeal” and later editor of the Kansas City Call. Wilkins moved on to the NAACP as Assistant Secretary from 1931 to 1934. He replaced W.E.B. Du Bois as Editor of the NAACP’s Crisis magazine when Du Bois left the organization as Editor.
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights was founded by Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph and Arnold Aronson in 1950. Wilkins would step into the chief leadership role of the NAACP in 1955 as Executive Secretary. The position was renamed in 1964 to Executive Director. He would go on to serve as leader of the NAACP for over twenty years until his retirement in1977. Wilkins as head of the NAACP, provided national leadership for the organization as it was advocating for Americans during some of the most difficult, challenging and history making years of civil rights in America.
While at the helm of the NAACP, this organization would lead the charge in successful civil rights victories such as Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Wilkins died September 8, 1981, in New York City at age 80.