Learning to Lobby: The Lessons of the NAACP’s 1930s Federal Anti-Lynching Campaign

Cooper, Melissa (2017) Learning to Lobby: The Lessons of the NAACP’s 1930s Federal Anti-Lynching Campaign. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Why the NAACP pursued anti-lynching legislation with such vigour despite a decade of defeat in the Senate is the key research question this thesis considers. In doing so it analyses two aspects of the NAACP’s lobbying efforts during the 1930s: its attempts to push anti-lynching bills through Congress and its efforts to secure presidential endorsement for those bills.
New insights on how the NAACP learned to lobby can be gleaned by considering the NAACP, Congress, and the President, as key influences on the anti-lynching campaign. This thesis analyses previously neglected primary source material to shed light on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s influence on the anti-lynching campaign. Additionally, it interprets the anti-lynching campaign through a theoretical lens. It considers theories of lobbying in Congress, presidential power, and congressional obstruction to contextualise the institutions, politics, and politicians at play in the anti-lynching campaign.
Despite no anti-lynching legislation ever being passed, both Congress and the executive branch had a profound effect upon the NAACP’s political education. In response to Congressional conservatism towards the anti-lynching campaign, and in order to push anti-lynching legislation through the legislative branch, the NAACP learned to overcome legislative obstruction and conform to norms and procedures dictated by Congress. By working with FDR—who, contrary to popular belief, had a liberal reformist attitude towards anti-lynching—the NAACP learned how to work with the executive branch and how to write stronger legislation. FDR helped NAACP activists to rhetorically frame anti-lynching in terms of the function of government and proposed strategies to give the federal government the power to prosecute lynchings. NAACP activists gained confidence in their tactics and optimism about achieving their objective from their political education. In contrast to the undertone of failure running through existing literature, the events of the anti-lynching movement instead highlight a theme of opportunity and hope for the NAACP.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Chris White
Date Deposited: 19 Jul 2018 13:34
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2018 13:34
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/67662


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