Thursday, July 2, 2020

Francis and Witt on the NAACP and the Garland Fund

Megan Ming Francis, University of Washington, and John Fabian Witt, Yale Law School, have posted Movement Capture or Movement Strategy? A Critical Race History Exchange on the Beginnings of Brown v. Board, which is forthcoming in the Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities:
Charles Garland, 1922 (wiki)
In 2019, Megan Ming Francis published a path-breaking article challenging the conventional wisdom in the field on a core piece of civil rights history: the role of a philanthropic foundation called the American Fund for Public Service, also known as the Garland Fund, in working alongside the NAACP to produce the organization’s famous litigation campaign leading to Brown v. Board of Education. In Francis’s provocative account, the predominantly white Garland Fund captured the agenda of the civil rights organization through its financial influence, shifting the organization’s central focus from racial violence toward education equality. In this exchange, Francis and legal historian John Fabian Witt debate exactly who captured whom in the relationship between the NAACP and the Garland Fund. Their exchange engages method and substance in the history of civil rights. Among other things, Witt contends that the NAACP’s leadership also subtly coopted the Garland Fund’s resources and turned them toward the civil rights organization’s preexisting agenda rather than vice versa.

The exchange proceeds with an opening statement by Francis, and reply by Witt, and a surreply by Francis, and a closing note from Witt.
--Dan Ernst