On this day seventy years ago, the NAACP submitted a petition, “An Appeal to the World” edited by W.E.B. Du Bois to the United Nations to address the denial of human rights to African Americans in the United States.
To commemorate the 70th anniversary of Du Bois’ appeal, the NAACP joined the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the U.S. Human Rights Network, and the ACLU in issuing a statement affirming our commitment to the goals of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) and stressing the importance of the upcoming U.N. review of the United States’ record on ending racism and racial discrimination. Our organizations called upon the Trump administration to submit a comprehensive report on civil and human rights in the U.S. to the U.N. CERD committee by the November 20, 2017 deadline.
Also in recognition of Du Bois’ appeal and its contemporary relevance, NAACP National Board Member Alphonso Braggs delivered a speech at the Hawaii State Capitol. Mr. Braggs joined students from the University of Hawaii and members of the United Nations Association of Hawaii, who spoke on the threat of climate change and the urgency of nuclear disarmament. Mr. Braggs’ remarks, which centered on the correlation between the challenges to racial equality that Du Bois raised in 1947 and those we continue to face in 2017, contributed to the forum’s holistic review of the state of our nation and planet.
For 108 years, the NAACP has fought for an America that lives up to its foundational promises of liberty and justice for all. We’ve battled all manner of political, educational, social, and economic inequity over the years, but we face unique challenges in 2017 – namely, an administration that proudly flaunts its disregard for the civil rights and liberties of people of color.
Du Bois’ warning, that a “great nation, which today ought to be in the forefront of the march toward peace and democracy, finds itself continuously making common cause with race hate,” rings all too true today as we watch white supremacists march in our streets and hold our nation’s highest offices without shame or consequence. America’s greatness can only be realized if it models integrity and inclusivity and is willing to confront the inequities that still persist within its democracy and society.
The best way to honor the efforts of Du Bois and his NAACP colleagues is to learn from their example and take action of our own. We appeal to America’s leaders to uphold their obligation to the U.N. and fulfill their duty to their constituents by comprehensively and candidly reporting on racial inequity in our nation.