William Pickens (1881–1954), a founding member of the Niagara Movement and the NAACP, was the son of South Carolina sharecroppers. Bright and ambitious, he excelled at Talladega College and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Yale in 1904. For sixteen years he worked as a professor and academic administrator. While teaching at Morgan College, he helped Joel Spingarn organize the Louisville branch of the NAACP and prepare the case Buchannan v. Warley, which concerned residential segregation. He left academia in 1920 to succeed James Weldon Johnson as NAACP field secretary. In this capacity, he recruited new members and established new branches. As a contributing editor of the Associated Negro Press, the largest black news syndicate, Pickens helped publicize NAACP activities in his weekly articles that appeared in more than 100 newspapers. During his tenure (1920–1942) the number of NAACP branches grew to more than 350.