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In 1908, a deadly race riot rocked the city of Springfield, eruptions of anti-black violence – particularly lynching – were horrifically commonplace, but the Springfield riot was the final tipping point that led to the creation of the NAACP. Appalled at this rampant violence, a group of white liberals that included Mary White Ovington and Oswald Garrison Villard (both the descendants of famous abolitionists), William English Walling and Dr. Henry Moscowitz issued a call for a meeting to discuss racial justice. Some 60 people, seven of whom were African American (including W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, and Mary Church Terrell), signed the call, which was released on the centennial of Lincoln's birth.

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Peekskill NAACP Presidential History

  • The Peekskill Chapter of the NAACP was the first branch of the national organization to be established in Westchester County in 1937.

  • Joseph Barnes was the first chapter President, and Kathleen Moshier became its secretary at only seventeen years of age.

  • Melvin S. Tapley was a guiding influence in the formation of the Peekskill chapter and was active as its President from 1952 to 1968.

  • Organized at the AME Zion Church, Mrs. Indus Green – Peekskillian woman who restored Harriet Tubman’s home in Auburn NY was the Vice President of the Peekskill NAACP in the 1950s

  • The Peekskill NAACP Youth Council, under the leadership of Offie Wortham and Henry Tolliver from 1953 to 1957, became the largest in the US with over four hundred members, most of whom were white.

  • Byron Peterson, as President of the adult branch, embraced the public demands for assertive civil rights activities in Peekskill during the 1960s. 

  • Anna Mae Dickerson served as President in the 1960s. 

  • Mrs. Cleopatra Jones was one of the first advisors to the NAACP Youth Council and later became the adult branch organization President for several years in the 1970s and '80s.

  • Ms. Maude Belle and Peter Marshall were Presidents through the 1980s. 

  • Marvin Church served as President in the early 1990s,

  • Mrs. Vera McCorvey was President from 1988 to 1996.

  • Robert Spencer was President from 1996 until 2001

  • Martin McDonald facilitated the reactivation of the branch and became President in 2015 to 2017

  • Valerie Eaton then served 2 terms from 2018-2023 and under her leadership reactivated the Youth Branch #2832

  • Priscilla Augustin serves as the newest President for the 2023-2024 2 year term.

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