1900s-1910s

Branch Presidents

Founder

   Cornelia F. Matthews

Local Events

  • In 1918, Cornelia F. Matthews worked with the national NAACP to organize a branch in Elmira.

State and National Events

1920s

Branch Presidents

1920-1923

   James Armstrong

1925-1926

  Cornelia F. Matthews

1927-1928

  James Armstrong

Local Events

  • A program on the life of Abraham Lincoln was presented in 1923 by the local NAACP.

  • After 1928, membership in the Elmira NAACP declined and the branch became inactive.

State and National Events

  • In 1923, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Moore v. Dempsey that exclusion of African Americans from a jury was inconsistent with the right to a fair trial.

1940s

Branch Presidents

1942

  Grace Higgins Mann

1943-1945

  Stella Blandford

1946

  Elsie Watkins

1947

  Ellsworth E. English

1948-1950

  Lewis H. Stark

Local Events

  • In 1942, in response to systematic discrimination against black women seeking jobs at Bendix-Eclipse, the local chapter of the NAACP was re-established by the membership of the Negro Women's Progressive Club of Elmira led by Grace Mann

  • In 1945, the Elmira NAACP revived the Neighborhood House Program.

  • In 1946, the local NAACP hosted T.R. Parker of the Elmira Reformatory to speak about "the contribution of the Negro to civilization."

  • Branch president Ellsworth E. English filed a report with the national NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund after four African American youths were denied service in a tavern in Elmira in 1947. He sought legal councel to deal with this violation of the Civil Rights Act of New York State.

  • In 1947, the NAACP petitioned the Elmira City Council to hire African Americans for positions in the police and fire departments

State and National Events

  • In March 1945, 1,000 African American sailors at Port Hueneme, California staged a hunger strike to protest discrimination within the U.S. Navy.

  • In 1948, president Harry Truman became the first president to formally address the NAACP. That year, he also signed an executive order desegregating the U.S. Armed Force. 

  • In 1948, six African American men were tried and convicted for the murder of an elderly white shopkeeper in Trenton, New Jersey. Legal teams from the NAACP and Civil Rights Congress represented the "Trenton Six" in appeals to the State Supreme Court challenging police conduct and the fairness of the trial.

1950s

Branch Presidents

1951

  George Bragg

1952

  Lewis Stark

1953-1954

  Clayton W. Blandford

1955-1962

Rev. Latta R. Thomas

Local Events

  • In 1950, the NAACP held a Group Racial Forum. The three-point program's goal was to help overcome racial prejudice.

  • The NAACP demanded the completion of the planned Jones Court housing project in Elmira in 1950.

  • In 1950, Thomas Reid Jr. became Elmira's first black fireman.

  • In 1953, Wilbur Reid became the Elmira Police Department’s first black officer in the 20th century and Fredrick D. Robinson, a member of the Elmira NAACP, became the first African American man to serve in the New York State Police.

  • In 1955, Local members of the NAACP joined other branches in sending aid money to those in Clarendon County, South Carolina who were being mistreated following the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of school integration.

State and National Events

  • In 1953, the NAACP started the “Fight for Freedom” campaign. The goal of the campaign was to abolish segregation and discrimination by 1963, the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation.The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawed segregation in public schools.

  • In 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American, was lynched in Mississippi after being accused of offending a white woman.

  • Rosa Parks, a NAACP branch secretary in Montgomery, Alabama refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in 1955. Her actions set the stage for the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

1960s

Branch Presidents

1955-1962

  Rev. Latta R. Thomas

1963-1966

  Lewis Stark

1967-1968

  Joseph Brown

1969

  R. Wayne Dunham

Local Events

  • In 1960, the Elmira NAACP considered picketing the local Woolworth's store after the chain's southern stores refused to serve African Americans. The Elmira store manager spoke to the organization to assure members that he ran his store without discrimination and even employed two African Americans. The members voted not to picket the local store. 

  • Patricia Bryant of Elmira was among the Freedom Riders jailed in Jackson, Mississippi in 1961.

  • The Freedom Marches in 1963 in Washington, D.C. and other cities around the United States inspired the Elmira NAACP to take action by writing to local legislators with their concerns about housing and employment discrimination.

  • In 1964, the NAACP took up the issue of discrimination in Elmira's public housing. An informal investigation found that, while residents of Jones Court were 99% African American, Hathorn Court only had one African American family and Hoffman Plaza had none.

  • In May 1964, over 200 people marched from the Neighborhood House to Wisner Park in Elmira to mark the 10th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education ruling that  ended legal school segregation.

  • In 1965, the Economic Opportunity Program Inc. of Elmira opened a day care center for low-income families based on a plan proposed by former NAACP branch president George Bragg.

  • Local NAACP president Joseph Brown attended a memorial service and march in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. after his assassination on April 4, 1968. The event was organized by the juniors and seniors at Elmira Free Academy.

  • In 1968, the Civil Rights Movement helped to bolster the local branch's membership to 675 adults and 90 youths.

  • The local branch organized a protest in 1969 to prevent the demolition of two houses to make way for a gas station at Lake Street and Washington Avenue. Their actions against forced urban renewal were in keeping with their efforts to preserve and create new low-income housing options in the city.

State and National Events

  • By 1960, full integration of the races had been completed by the United State Marine Corps.

  • On April 25, 1963, William L. Moore, formerly of Binghamton, New York, was shot and killed in northeast Alabama while walking from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi to protest segregation.

  • The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom took place on August 28, 1963. The rally, at which Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I have a dream" speech, was the largest demonstration ever seen in Washington, D.C. with over 250,000 people.

  • The Civil Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, was enacted on July 2, 1964. 

  • The Voting Rights Act was signed into law on August 6, 1965, securing the right of racial minorities to vote throughout the United States.

  • The Black Panthers, or the Black Panther Party, was a political organization founded in 1966 in Oakland, California to challenge police brutality against the African American community.

  • In 1967, Thurgood Marshall was appointed as the first African American justice on the Supreme Court.

  • Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

  • Extensive lobbying by the NAACP led to passing of the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

1970s

Branch Presidents

1971-1972

  Donald C. Blandford

1973

  Rev. Willie Powell

1973-1974

  Donald C. Blandford

1975-1976

  Roland A. Coleman Sr.

1977-1978

  Rev. Cephus M. McGee

    Jr.

1979-1982

  Frank Givens

Local Events

  • In July 1972, the Elmira branch of the NAACP was reorganized as the Elmira-Corning branch in order to facilitate flood relief services in the greater area.

  • The social services branch of the local NAACP donated nearly seven tons of food to those in need in 1972.

  • The local NAACP investigated reports of double standards and possible mistreatment of African American Students at Elmira Free Academy in 1977.

State and National Events

  • In 1970, there were 1,313 NAACP branches in the United States with a total of 241,309 members.

  • In 1972, the NAACP chartered its first prison branch at the Federal Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

  • In 1978, the NAACP sponsored the first Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics (ACT-SO) competition for high school youth around the country. The program rewarded academic achievers in the same way athletic achievers were honored.

1980s

Branch Presidents

1979-1982

  Frank Givens

1983-1984

  Rev. Gregory J. Jackson

1984-1988

  Bessie T. Berry

1988

  Roosevelt Branch

1988-1992

  Rev. Arthur O. Keith

Local Events

  • In December 1980, the Gannett Foundation awarded $35,000 to the NAACP to administer a one-year pilot program at the Elmira Correctional Facility to help black inmates lead constructive lives after their release.

  • In 1983, the NAACP was one of a coalition of black organizations in the Elmira-Corning area that collectively presented the United Negro College Fund with $10,000.

  • In 1986, the local NAACP supported "Black Dollar Days," which urged minorities to pay for purchases exclusively with Susan B. Anthony dollar coins and $2 bills to show their impact on the local economy.

  • In August 1989, the Elmira-Corning branch of the NAACP joined the Silent March in Washington, D.C. to protest recent Supreme Court decisions that were seen as threatening the progress made by minorities.

State and National Events

  • In 1981, the NAACP started the Operation Fair Share Program as a way to encourage entrepreneurship and increase employment for minorities.  

  • In 1983, the NAACP partnered with organizations such as La Raza, the Japanese American Council, and the American Indian Council to sponsor the national Minority Health Fair. With a $30,000 grant from the Chevron Corporation, the project’s goals were to raise awareness of health issues among minorities and provide information about local healthcare agencies.

1990s

Branch Presidents

1989-1992

  Rev. Arthur O. Keith

1993-Present

  Georgia F. Verdier

Local Events

  • Former local NAACP president Frank Givens was one of 16 recipients of the first Governor's Awards for African Americans of Distinction in New York State in February 1992.

  • In 1992, residents of the Elmira-Corning area began celebrating Juneteenth in Corning. The holiday commemorates when slaves in Texas learned of the Emancipation Proclamation on June 19, 1865. In 2002, Elmira started hosting an annual celebration.

  • On August 29, 1993, members of the local branch march in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech.

State and National Events

  • The acquittal of four white police officers accused of using excessive force in the arrest of Rodney King, who was black, led to the Los Angeles riots of 1992.

  • In 1994, Nelson Mandela addressed the national convention of the NAACP in the hopes of forging a bond with the organization to collaborate on issues affecting both South Africa and the United States.

2000s-2010s

Branch Presidents

1993-Present

  Georgia F. Verdier

Local Events

  • The Elmira-Corning NAACP partnered with the United Steel Workers of America to sponsor a free bus trip to Washington, D.C. in 2010 in order to help locals participate in the One Nation Working Together movement.

  • In 2014, members of the local NAACP traveled to Albany to protest Governor Andrew Cuomo's plan to close Camp Monterey, a facility which helped reintroduce inmates into society in a productive and beneficial way.

  • In 2015, the Elmira-Corning Branch of the NAACP received the prestigious Thalheimer Award for excellence in programming at the NAACP national convention in Philadelphia.

State and National Events

  • The Cincinnati riots of 2001, the largest since the 1992 Los Angeles riots, were sparked when a police officer shot and killed Timothy Thomas, an unarmed African American man, during an arrest for non-violent misdemeanors.

  • In 2010 Barack Obama was elected as the first African American President of the United States.

  • The Black Lives Matter movement began in 2013, following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of African American teen Trayvon Martin in February 2012.