This Day in History

Oct. 23, 1947: An Appeal to the World

Time Periods: Cold War: 1945 - 1960
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Racism & Racial Identity

It is not Russia that threatens the United States so much as Mississippi. . . internal injustice done to one’s brothers is far more dangerous than the aggression of strangers from abroad. — W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois testifying on the UNCIO charter during hearings by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1945. Source: Getty.

On Oct. 23, 1947, the NAACP sent to the United Nations a document titled “An Appeal to the World: A Statement on the Denial of Human Rights to Minorities in the Case of Citizens of the United States of America and an Appeal to the United Nations for Redress,” in which the NAACP asked the U.N. to redress human rights violations the United States committed against its African-American citizens.

These violations included lynching, segregation, and the gross inequalities in education, housing, health care, and voting rights.

W. E. B. Du Bois drafted the petition along with other leading lawyers and scholars. The petition stated,

At first [the American Negro] was driven from the polls in the South by mobs and violence; and then he was openly cheated; finally by a ‘Gentlemen’s agreement’ with the North, that Negro was disfranchised in the South by a series of laws, methods of administration, court decisions, and general public policy, so that today, three-fourths of the Negro population of the nation is deprived of the right to vote by open and declared policy.

This description is from the University of Chicago Library News. Continue reading “Black history at the United Nations” by Lyonette Louis-Jacques at D’Angelo Law.

See pages from The Appeal at the Library of Congress. Scroll to Object #11. Read a transcription of the introduction to The Appeal at BlackPast.org.