In the 1940s, the NAACP experienced considerable growth in membership, with about 600,000 members in 1946. She continued to act as a legislative and legal advocate to end state-imposed segregation. The NAACP Board of Directors established the Legal Defense Fund in 1940 specifically for tax purposes. In 1957, the DFL was completely separated from the NAACP and given its own independent board of directors and staff.  Although DFL was originally intended to operate in accordance with NAACP policy, serious disputes arose between the two organizations after 1961. These conflicts eventually led the NAACP to create its own in-house legal department, while LDF continued to operate as an independent organization and achieve significant legal victories.   LDF is the nation`s leading legal organization dedicated to fighting for racial justice and advocating for the protection of civil rights for all Americans. naacpldf.org/history; Jack Greenberg, Crusaders in the Courts: How a Dedicated Band of Lawyers Fought for the Civil Rights Revolution (New York: BasicBooks, 1994); Mark V. Tushnet, The NAACP`s Legal Strategy against Segregated Education, 1925-1950 (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1987); and Gilbert Ware, “The NAACP-Inc. Fund Alliance: its strategy, its power and its destruction. Journal of Negro Education 3 (1994): 323-335. Of all the injustices the DFLs have challenged over its seven-decade history, few confront our nation with violence as sheer as racial inequalities in the criminal justice system.
LDF challenged the lack of legal representation, discriminatory jury selection, the death penalty and criminal laws, and harsh sentences that disproportionately affect African Americans and conspire to ensure the incarceration of large numbers of blacks in prison. As the main legal architect of the civil rights movement, Marshall constantly visited small, dusty, burning courtrooms throughout the South. At one point, he supervised up to 450 simultaneous cases. Among other important victories, he successfully challenged a whites-only primary in Texas, in addition to a case in which the Supreme Court ruled that restrictive agreements prohibiting blacks from buying or renting homes could not be enforced by state courts. The most famous case in DFL history was Brown v. Board of Education, the seminal 1954 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court explicitly banned de jure racial segregation in public educational institutions. During the civil rights protests of the 1960s, LDF represented “the legal arm of the civil rights movement” and advised Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., among others. Immediately after graduation, Marshall opened a law practice in Baltimore, and in the early 1930s he represented the local chapter of the NAACP in a successful lawsuit challenging the University of Maryland School of Law for its segregation policies. In addition, he successfully pursued prosecutions that integrated other state universities.
In 1936, Marshall became chief legal counsel to the NAACP. The NAACP`s initial goal was to direct equal resources to black schools. Marshall was able to challenge the council to hear only cases that would touch the heart of isolation. A series of early lawsuits, including a victory against a discriminatory law in Oklahoma that regulated voting by a grandfather clause (Guinn v. States, 1910), helped establish the importance of the NAACP as a lawyer. The fledgling organization also learned to use public power through its fight against D.W. in 1915. The Rebellious Birth of a Nation by Griffith, a film that perpetuated humiliating stereotypes about African Americans and glorified the Ku Klux Klan. The NAACP has been endorsed by many well-known celebrities and leaders over the years, including Sammy Davis Jr., Lena Horne, Jackie Robinson, and Harry Belafonte. As NAACP chapter chief, Ella Baker emphasized the importance of youth and women in the organization by recruiting members, fundraising, and organizing local campaigns. Daisy Bates was a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors in Arkansas Little Rock Nine. Kivie Kaplan, a Boston NAACP veteran, served as NAACP president from 1966 to 1975, personally leading the NAACP`s national lifelong membership efforts and fighting to keep African Americans away from illegal drugs.
The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s reflected the goals of the NAACP, but leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr. of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference felt that direct action was needed to achieve them. Although the NAACP has been criticized for its overly rigid work within the system and its focus on legislative and judicial solutions, the association has provided legal representation and assistance to members of other protest groups over an extended period of time. The NAACP even posted bail in the `60s for hundreds of Freedom Riders who traveled to Mississippi to register black voters and challenge Jim Crow policies. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the leading American legal organization fighting for racial justice. Founded in 1940 under the leadership of Thurgood Marshall, who later became the first African-American LDF in the United States, it was created at a time when the nation`s aspirations for equality and due process were stifled by widespread government-sponsored racial inequality. From that time until today, LDF`s mission has always been transformative: to achieve racial justice, equality and an inclusive society. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, which was disproportionately catastrophic for African Americans, the NAACP began to focus on economic justice. After years of tension with white unions, the Association partnered with the newly formed Congress of Industrial Organizations to win jobs for black Americans.