On this day in 1947 the NAACP at the initiative of W.E.B. Du Bois presented an “Appeal to the World” to the United Nations, charging systematic discrimination against African Americans. The Appeal noted that “three-fourths of the Negro population of the nation is deprived of the right to vote by open and declared policy” and called for an investigation.
The U.S. delegation to the UN objected and actively lobbied against other nation’s attempt to raise the issue. The UN Commission on Human Rights voted not to accept a request by the Soviet Union to conduct an investigation
The National Negro Congress in 1946 and William Patterson and Paul Robeson in 1952 presented similar appeals to the UN. NAACP head, Benjamin Jealous, in August of this year presented a similar appeal to UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva pointing to efforts to suppress voting rights in states across the country. Jealous said, “It was in 1947 that W.E.B. Dubois delivered his speech and appealed to the world at the U.N.Now, like then, the principal concern is voting rights. The past year more states in this country have passed more laws pushing more voters out of the ballot box than any point since Jim Crow.”