Lillian Wald, 1867 - 1940
"At the time of the first convention of the organization, [the NAACP] formed to further better race relations in this country, the occasion promised to be almost too serious unless some social provision were made. I suggested a party at the House, but even the organizing committee was fearful.
'Oh, no!' they protested. 'It won't do! As soon as white and colored people sit down and eat together there begin to be newspaper stories about social equality.'
'But two hundred members of the conference couldn't sit down,' I submitted. 'Our house is too small. Everybody would have to stand up for supper.'
'Then it would be all right,' they said with relief, and the party was successful."
Wald actively supported efforts to improve race relations and made sure that her settlement houses not only provided services, but also employment, for members of all racial and ethnic groups. She insisted that Henry Street's classes be racially integrated, and Stillman House (later known as Lincoln House), the branch of Henry Street which served the African-American community, was known for its extensive research on the lives of blacks. Her most notable work for civil rights, however, was her institutional involvement with the National Negro Conference, a gathering held at Henry Street. The conference became the founding meeting of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Wald also joined with the NAACP's coalition in 1915 to protest the release of the film The Birth of a Nation, which celebrated the Ku Klux Klan and its belief in white supremacy.
- "At the time of..." From Lillian Wald, The House on Henry Street. (New York: Henry Holt and Company, Inc. 1915) 49.