A Renewal of the Struggle
The NAACP struggled through the 1970s and 1980s, a period marked by change and many challenges. NAACP Executive Director Roy Wilkins ended his long tenure with the association (1931–1977) and Margaret Bush Wilson became the first black woman to chair the NAACP Board of Directors. The NAACP built on the legal and legislative victories of the civil rights era by supporting race-conscious initiatives to redress the legacy of racial discrimination. The NAACP backed busing to achieve school desegregation and affirmative action programs with the government and private sector. But by the mid-1970s, the NAACP faced the threat of bankruptcy as the result of two lawsuits and criticism about its relevancy from proponents of the Black Power Movement. In the 1980s, the Reagan administration reduced the budget of the Equal Opportunity Commission, tried to disband the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, reduced the number of civil rights attorneys in the Justice Department, and urged the Supreme Court to end affirmative action. The confluence of challenges in the 1970s and 1980s spurred the NAACP to find new ways of defining its mission to address the issues of African Americans.
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