This is a signature from NAACP’s Roy Wilkins (signed one year before he died) on an “Official First Day of Issue” Cover honoring Harriet Tubman. It is postmarked February 1, 1978 and also includes a 13 cent Harriet Tubman stamp. Wilkins has signed with a blue pen. In 1955, Roy Wilkins was chosen to be the executive secretary of the NAACP and in 1964 he became its executive director. He had an excellent reputation as an articulate spokesperson for the civil rights movement. One of his first actions was to provide support to civil rights activists in Mississippi who were being subject to a “credit squeeze” by members of the White Citizens Councils.
Wilkins backed a proposal suggested by Dr. T.R.M. Howard of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, who headed the Regional Council of Negro Leadership, a leading civil rights organization in the state. Under the plan, black businesses and voluntary associations shifted their accounts to the black-owned Tri-State Bank of Memphis, Tennessee. By the end of 1955, about $300,000 had been deposited in Tri-State for this purpose. The money enabled Tri-State to extend loans to credit-worthy blacks who were denied loans by white banks. Wilkins participated in the March on Washington (August 1963) which he helped organize, the Selma to Montgomery marches (1965), and the March Against Fear (1966).
He believed in achieving reform by legislative means, testified before many Congressional hearings and conferred with Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter. Wilkins strongly opposed militancy in the movement for civil rights as represented by the “black power” movement. He was a strong critic of racism in any form regardless of its creed, color or political motivation, and also declared that violence and racial separation of blacks and whites were not the answer. However, this increasingly brought him into conflict with younger, more militant black activists who saw him as an “Uncle Tom”.
Wilkins was also a member of Omega Psi Phi, a fraternity with a civil rights focus, and one of the intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternities established for African Americans.
In 1964, he was awarded the Spingarn Medal from the NAACP.
In 1967, Wilkins was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Lyndon Johnson. During his tenure, the NAACP played a pivotal role in leading the nation into the Civil Rights movement and spearheaded the efforts that led to significant civil rights victories, including Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.