In 1916, a small group of black townspeople came together to protest the atrocities being perpetrated against members of their race, and the Montclair Branch NAACP was born. This was 7 years after the National Organization was founded.
The first President was Rev. Fred Handy, pastor of St. Mark’s Methodist Church. Mrs. Atlanta Lipscomb was elected secretary, and Albert Terry became the first Treasurer.
In the ensuing years, Presidents were Dr. Edgar S. Ballou, Mrs. Mary Allen, Arthur Williams, George Wibecan, Leo Marsh, Joseph Green, George Rice, George Palmer, Mrs. Octavia Carlett, Dr. Ferdinand Williams, Richard Johnson, Raoul Howard, Rev. Marvin A McMickle, Mrs. Garvice Reid, James E. Harris, W. Shirley Davenport, Albertus Jenkins, Ms. Patricia Sturdivant-Little, James E. Harris, David Heron, Beverly A Bussey, Ruth C. Taylor, Thomas L. Reynolds and currently, Jeanette Oliver is President of the Montclair Branch.
In the 1960’s, the branch questioned the adequacy of an under populated junior high school and joined with Parents School Emergency committee to lead the three day boycott and demonstration which was successful in achieving token school integration. In 1966, community frustration and impatience over the slowness in correcting quality and racial balance in the education system, resulted in cour suit. The suit resulted in policies regarding de-facto segregation in school districts. The Montclair NAACP continues to monitor the educational system and respond to issues that affect the quality of education through its Education Committee.
The Montclair Branch has influenced the election of black persons to position in local government, the revision of the structure of municipal government, urban renewal, senior citizen housing, health services and voter education/registration. The Montclair Youth Council makes it possible for local youth to become actively involved in the struggle for civil rights at the local, regional, state and national levels. The Branch has organized and implemented S.A.T. preparation workshops for high school students and sponsored a Youth Speak-Out Forum in 1988, in an effort to encourage young adults to express their concerns and develop resolutions for problems facing them. The annual Martin Luther King Day celebration is open to all citizens of the community.
The Branch has formed coalitions with fraternal and community groups and organizations to sponsor forums and activities of interest to members and the community. In addition, the Branch has found an increasing number of opportunities to support the programs of local groups, whose efforts are in concert with the ideals and mission of the NAACP. In recent years, the Branch has worked closely with the National Council on Negro Women, Inc (NCNW), The League of Women Voters, The Montclair Senior Housing Corporation, The Montclair Neighborhood Development Corporation, The Fourth Ward Collaborative, the Urban League, local sororities, fraternities and churches. Members of the Branch represent the NAACP on various community boards and committees.
The Thurgood Marshall Freedom Fund Dinner and Awards Ceremony marks that time of year when the Montclair Branch NAACP honors those members of the organization and community who have consistently contributed their time and effort towards fostering the goal and mission of the NAACP in the continuing struggle for civil and human rights.