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Plaque unveiled in NYC to honor headquarters of NAACP, other progressive groups
2022-05-12

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On May 11, Village Preservation and The New School were joined by historians David Levering Lewis, Amy Aronson, Brian McGrath and Stephen Brier for the unveiling of a plaque marking 70 Fifth Ave. as the historic headquarters of the NAACP, the ACLU and numerous other progressive, human-rights and civil-liberties organizations, and as the home of W.E.B. Du Bois' The Crisis magazine.

Openly gay New York City Councilmember Erik Bottcher also attended and spoke.

No. 70 Fifth Avenue, a 1912 Beaux Arts—style office building, served as headquarters of the NAACP, the nation's oldest and largest civil-rights organization, from 1914 to 1925. This was during the young organization's early campaigns against lynching, employment discrimination, voting disenfranchisement, and defamatory representations in the media, including the film The Birth of a Nation.

It also housed DuBois' The Crisis magazine, the first African American magazine and voice of the civil-rights movement for more than a century; it was the launching pad for the Harlem Renaissance and writers such as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Countee Cullen, among others. (Hughes and Cullen were considered part of the LGBTQ+ community.)

(History note: Interestingly, according to the book A Queer History of the United States, Du Bois fired Augustus Granville Dill in the late 1920s after the latter was arrested for having a same-sex encounter, per the website Beacon Broadside.)

The building was also the early or original home of many progressive, human-rights and civil-liberties organizations, including the ACLU, the American Federation of Teachers, the League for the Abolition of Capital Punishment, the League for Industrial Democracy, the Women's Peace Party, the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs and the Near East Foundation, which led the effort to prevent and respond to the Armenian Genocide.

In 2021, after a campaign by Village Preservation to obtain landmark protections for 70 Fifth Avenue, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to declare the building a New York City landmark.


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