DC Nat'l Negro Congress: 1936-55
The National Negro Congress (NNC) and its successor the Civil Rights Congress (CRC) were organizations that rivaled the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for influence in the civil rights movement prior the emergence of the 1950s civil rights movement under the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The organization was formed in 1936 and delegates from the District of Columbia attended the first convention.

It was a broad-based organization, but mainly concentrated in the working class. During its peak years of 1936-41, the NNC was headed by A. Phillip Randolph as president with John P. Davis serving as national secretary.

Socialists, labor union leaders, Democratic Party activists, Communists, ministers and a wide variety of others found room in the big tent of the organization, but it began to fall apart when A. Phillip Randolph quit the organization in 1941 in a dispute over U.S. involvement in the burgeoning war in Europe and the turn of the NNC toward an alliance with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). Randolph’s sleeping car porters were affiliated with the rival American Federation of Labor (AFL).

In the District, the group focused on direct action around police brutality, organizing unions, and advocating for desegregation of Washington’s schools and parks.

The broadest campaign was their mass campaign against police brutality that lasted from 1936-41, although the organization continued work on this issue into the late 1940s.

Some of the successful union work that the DC NNC was involved with included the Cleaners & Dyers union organization of dry cleaning plants, strike support for the Laborer’s Union and the integration of the Glen L. Martin aircraft facility near Baltimore.

The local NNC also participated in the national campaigns to free the “Scottsboro Boys,” Willie McGee and the “Martinsville 7.”

After merging with the International Labor Defense, it became the Civil Rights Congress that worked as both legal defense and mobilization of action. It was listed as a subversive organization in the late 1940s and ultimately dissolved in 1956 as a result of the Red Scare.
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