Mary White Ovington (April 11, 1865 in Brooklyn, New York – July 15, 1951) a suffragette, socialist, unitarian, journalist, and co-founder of the NAACP.
Her parents, members of the Unitarian Church were supporters of women’s rights and had been involved in anti-slavery movement. Educated at Packer Collegiate Institute and Radcliffe College, Ovington became involved in the campaign for civil rights in 1890 after hearing Frederick Douglass speak in a Brooklyn church.
In 1895 she helped found the Greenpoint Settlement in Brooklyn. Appointed head of the project the following year, Ovington remained until 1904 when she was appointed fellow of the Greenwich House Committee on Social Investigations. Over the next five years she studied employment and housing problems in black Manhattan. During her investigations she met William Du Bois, an African American from Harvard University, and she was introduced to the founding members of the Niagara Movement.
Influenced by the ideas of William Morris, Ovington joined the Socialist Party in 1905, where she met people such as Daniel De Leon, Asa Philip Randolph, Floyd Dell, Max Eastman and Jack London, who argued that racial problems were as much a matter of class as of race. She wrote for radical journals and newspapers such as, The Masses, New York Evening Post, and The Call. She also worked with Ray Stannard Baker and influenced the content of his book, Following the Color Line (1908).
On September 3, 1908 she read an article written by socialist William English Walling entitled “Race War in the North” in The Independent. Walling described a massive race riot directed at black residents in the hometown of Abraham Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois that led to seven deaths, 40 homes and 24 businesses destroyed, and 107 indictments against rioters. Walling ended the article by calling for a powerful body of citizens to come to the aid blacks. Ovington responded to the article by writing Walling and meeting at his apartment in New York City along with social worker Dr. Henry Moskowitz. The group decided to launch a campaign by issuing a “call” for a national conference on the civil and political rights of African-Americans on the centennial of Lincoln’s birthday, February 12, 1909. Many responded to the “call” that eventually led to the formation of the National Negro Committee that held its first meeting in New York on May 31 and June 1, 1909. By May, 1910 the National Negro Committee and attendants, at its second conference, organized a permanent body known as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) where Ovington was appointed as its executive secretary. Early members included Josephine Ruffin, Mary Talbert, Mary Church Terrell, Inez Milholland, Jane Addams, George Henry White, William Du Bois, Charles Edward Russell, John Dewey, Charles Darrow, Lincoln Steffens, Ray Stannard Baker, Fanny Garrison Villard, Oswald Garrison Villard and Ida Wells-Barnett.
The following year she attended the Universal Races Congress in London. Ovington remained active in the struggle for women’s suffrage and as a pacifist opposed America’s involvement in the First World War. During the war Ovington supported Asa Philip Randolph and his magazine, The Messenger, which campaigned for black civil rights.
After the war Ovington served the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as board member, executive secretary and chairman. The NAACP fought a long legal battle against segregation and racial discrimination in housing, education, employment, voting and transportation. They appealed to the Supreme Court to rule that several laws passed by southern states were unconstitutional and won three important judgments between 1915-1923 concerning voting rights and housing.
She wrote several books and articles including a study of black Manhattan, Half a Man (1911), Status of the Negro in the United States (1913), Socialism and the Feminist Movement (1914), an anthology for black children, The Upward Path (1919), biographical sketches of prominent African Americans, Portraits in Color (1927), an autobiography, Reminiscences (1932) and a history of the NAACP, The Walls Come Tumbling Down (1947).
Ovington retired as a board member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1947 and in doing so, ended decades of service with the organization. She died in 1951.
Oswald Garrison Villard (1872-1949)
Villard was one of the founders of the NAACP and wrote “The Call” leading to its formation. His undated portrait comes from the records of the NAACP at the Library of Congress.
Daisy Gatson Bates (1914-1999)
Bates mentored nine black students who enrolled at all-white Central High School in Little Rock, AR, in 1957. The students used her home as an organizational hub. The 1957 photograph of Bates is from the New York World-Telegram & Sun Newspaper photographic collection at the Library of Congress.
The Bible warns against wavering faith. This is the attitude of someone who goes from feeling certain that God will answer a prayer to merely hoping that He might (or becoming convinced that He won’t). Of course, since we’re human, we all experience periods of doubt. But what Scripture warns against is a lifestyle of spiritual vacillation.
Wavering can have many causes. For instance, one might fail to see the Lord at work in a situation. Or he might worry that trusting Jesus in a particular predicament conflicts with human reasoning. Another believer, focusing on circumstances rather than on God, may allow feelings to overcome faith.
A person who is “driven and tossed by the wind” (James 1:6) may lose confidence in the Lord and find his spiritual growth stunted. Such a believer can become a “double-minded man” (v. 8) because even as he prays, he tends to jump ahead of the Lord’s timing to manipulate a situation for his own desired outcome. When a Christian pays attention to his doubts in this way, he will often make wrong decisions that prove costly. And then, after all the maneuvering, he will frequently end up dissatisfied with the results and bothered by his lack of peace. What’s even worse, his faith may diminish.
Wavering is dangerous, so believers must develop confidence in the Lord. In Mark 11:24, Jesus says, “All things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” The closest we get to perfect faith while on earth is the ability to trust that what we ask in God’s will is as good as done
“The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree…” (Psalm 92:12).
Have you ever seen a palm tree in the midst of a great storm or hurricane? That tree may be bent so far over that it’s almost touching the ground, but when the wind finally stops, that palm tree bounces right back up. And do you know that while that palm tree is hunched over under the pressure of the storm, it is actually growing stronger? The reason God said we’d flourish like a palm tree is because He knew there would be difficult times. He knew things would come against us to try to steal our joy and victory. God said, “You’re going to be like a palm tree because the storms of life will come, the winds will blow, but you are going to come right back up again stronger than before.” Nothing can hold you back! No weapon formed against you will ever prosper. No matter what’s happening in the world around you, keep standing. Keep praying. Keep believing. Your brightest days are right out in front of you, and God’s plan is to bring you blessing and victory all the days of your life.
Father in heaven, thank You for making me strong in You. I trust that You are working in my life, even in the midst of the storms. I know You will bring me out stronger, wiser, and better off than ever before. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
–Joel and Victoria Osteen