FDR urges NAACP support before WWII, 1940

A primary source by Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt to Arthur B. Spingarn, June 14, 1940 (GLC04477)On June 14, 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt wrote to Arthur B. Spingarn, president of the NAACP, to praise the NAACP’s fight for “increasing participation by Negroes in the benefits and responsibilities of the American democracy.” Roosevelt urges Spingarn to focus on the threat to civil rights posed by Nazi Germany, recalling African American contributions to the defense of liberty and democracy in America’s wars:

Your government has supreme confidence in the unflinching loyalty that the Negro race has shown from Boston Common to Flanders Field. Inspired by such traditions I know our Negro citizens will not hesitate to pledge their allegiance anew, in these ominous days, to the cause of human liberty.

Roosevelt wrote his letter to Spingarn just ten days after England had finished evacuating more than 338,000 troops from Dunkirk, France, as Germany advanced through Europe. While the United States did not declare war on Germany until December 1941, this letter demonstrates that Roosevelt was already planning for American participation in the international military conflict and was building support for the war among all citizens of the United States:

In the face of this challenge, the American democracy must marshal all the strength of all its people in a unity of conviction and of purpose. . . . Negroes and all other Americans have a special stake in this struggle. The adversaries we oppose deny every common right held by the man in the street in America.

A pdf of the document is available here.

Questions for Discussion

You are seeing this page because you are not currently logged into our website. If you would like to access this page and you are not logged in, please login or register for a gilderlehrman.org account, and then visit the link that brought you to this notice. Thanks!

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Already have an account?

Please click here to login and access this page.

How to subscribe

Click here to get a free subscription if you are a K-12 educator or student, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program, which provides even more benefits.

Otherwise, click here for information on a paid subscription for those who are not K-12 educators or students.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Become an Affiliate School to have free access to the Gilder Lehrman site and all its features.

Click here to start your Affiliate School application today! You will have free access while your application is being processed.

Individual K-12 educators and students can also get a free subscription to the site by making a site account with a school-affiliated email address. Click here to do so now!

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Why Gilder Lehrman?

Your subscription grants you access to archives of rare historical documents, lectures by top historians, and a wealth of original historical material, while also helping to support history education in schools nationwide. Click here to see the kinds of historical resources to which you'll have access and here to read more about the Institute's educational programs.

Individual subscription: $25

Click here to sign up for an individual subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History

Upgrade your Account

We're sorry, but it looks as though you do not have access to the full Gilder Lehrman site.

All K-12 educators receive free subscriptions to the Gilder Lehrman site, and our Affiliate School members gain even more benefits!

How to Subscribe

K-12 educator or student? Click here to get free access, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program.

Not a educator or student? Click here for more information on purchasing a subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Add comment

Login or register to post comments