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Black News and News Makers in History: Daisy Lampkin

African American news from Pasadena - Black News and News Makers in History recognizes Daisy Adams Lampkin this week in Black history.Daisy Elizabeth Adams (Lampkin), born August 9, 1884 in Washington, D.C. to George S. (a porter) and Rosa (Proctor) Adams. She grew up in Reading, Pennsylvania. After graduating from public high school, she moved to Pittsburgh in about 1909.

She became one of the most highly acclaimed African American women of her time. While Lampkin is best known for becoming the first women to be elected to the national board of the NAACP, she spent much of her life rallying for racial and gender equality.

Lampkin's social and political activism began shortly after moving to Pittsburgh. Lampkin proceeded to devote her adult life to social causes, beginning with those issues that were important to her as a black housewife. As a motivational speaker, she organized women into consumer protest groups. She is believed to have given her first women's rights tea in 1912. In addition, as an active member of the Lucy Stone Women's Suffrage League and the National Suffrage League, Lampkin rallied for women's right to vote. Understanding the challenges specific to African American women, she also became involved with the National Association for Colored Women (NACW), and was later named national organizer and chair of the executive board.

In 1912, she married William Lampkin, a restaurant owner, and helped him in the Pittsburgh suburb restaurant.

Lampkin involved herself in an amazing number of other organizations and projects. During World War I, she led Allegheny County's black community in raising over $2 million in Liberty Bond sales. Lampkin helped organize the first Red Cross chapter among black women and created local chapters of the Urban League and NAACP.

Due to Lampkins exceptional activism for African Americans, she was profiled in the Pittsburgh Courier in December of 1912. In response, Lampkin became a strong advocate of the Courier and even received a cash prize in 1913 for selling the most subscriptions. After several years of investing time and money to this newspaper, Lampkin was elected vice-president of the Courier Publishing Company in 1929.

For over thirty years, Lampkin was an enthusiastic member and officer for the NAACP. Between 1930 and 1964, she served as an officer for three consecutive terms. Lampkin began as a regional secretary (1930-1935), than served as the national secretary (1935-1947), and lastly, as a member of the board of the directors (1947-1964). Throughout her years of service with the NAACP, Lampkin increased membership and gave speeches throughout the United States.

In addition, she continued to rally for voting rights, becoming vice-chair for both the Colored Voters Division of the Republican Party and the Negro Voters League of Pennsylvania.

Among the most important episodes of Lampkin's service to the NAACP was when she spearheaded the anti-lynching button campaign of 1937, which was aimed to support the Costigan-Wagner Act that was to be voted on in the U.S. Congress. The act called for federal intervention when local authorities failed to respond to lynchings. To this end, the NAACP was faced with the difficult task of increasing blacks' awareness of lynchings. As Lampkin recalled in a 1962 interview with author Robert L. Zangrando, "We were so ashamed that whites could do that to us, that we hardly wanted to talk about it publicly." Some 250,000 buttons were produced that read "Stop lynching! N.A.A.C.P. Defense Fund." Sold at a time when blacks were still suffering financially from the Great Depression, the buttons grossed $9,378 by April of 1937.

Lampkin was also involved in much behind-the-scenes work, including convincing future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall to become a member of the association's Legal Defense Committee. She is said to have told the young lawyer in 1938--when he was practicing law in Baltimore--that he should move to New York to be near the NAACP headquarters. By 1954 he had become an attorney for the organization and argued the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education before the U.S. Supreme Court. In particular, Lampkin worked closely with Roy Wilkins, who was head of the NAACP at the time of her death.

Some historians doubt that an accurate measure of Lampkin's contributions as an activist was ever made during her lifetime. Edna B. McKenzie, an emeritus professor at the Community College of Allegheny County, remarked in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "the men really depended upon her. I doubt seriously if they could have done it without Daisy Lampkin. She raised the money and she recruited the people. I'm not just talking about Pittsburgh; I'm talking nationally." And Lampkin was described by Paula Giddings in When and Where I Enter as an example of "women who performed much of the nuts- and-bolts work of their organizations, yet were hardly expected to gain public recognition or even be in on major policy decisions." However, in some instances her impact was clearly documented: in 1944 she was credited with increasing the NAACP's membership more than any other executive; in 1945 the organization named her its "Woman of the Year;" and during her last year as national field secretary, Lampkin was reported to have raised over $1 million for the NAACP.

During the early 1950s, Lampkin renewed her involvement in women's issues when she assisted the black sorority Delta Sigma Theta with a fundraising campaign to create a national headquarters in Washington, D.C. As Paula Giddings noted in 'In Search of Sisterhood', this campaign or "'crusade' would be different from the others. For the first time she would try to raise a significant amount of funds wholly within one organization: an organization whose members, chapters, and regions had varying amounts of resources." The resulting campaign called for chapters to give the prescribed amount of $100 each, for graduate sorors to give at least $10, and for student members to give $5. In this way she helped the sorority to centralize their record keeping and finances and to have a presence in the policy-making center of the nation.

In December of 1964, she was honored with the Eleanor Roosevelt-Mary McLeod Bethune World Citizenship Award from the National Council of Negro Women for her dedication to racial and gender equality.

Hypertension and arthritis were the leading causes that prompted Lampkin to leave her position as NAACP field secretary and the hardship of extensive traveling, but she continued to work as a member of the organization's board.

After giving over fifty years of her life to the struggle for African American equality, Lampkin passed away on March 10, 1965 after suffering from a stroke a few months earlier while at a NAACP membership drive in Camden, New Jersey. The Lampkins had no children, but helped to raise a friend's daughter, Romaine Childs, who became Lampkin's heir.

In 1983 Lampkin was recognized in her adopted home town of Pittsburgh by a historical marker on her Webster Avenue apartment building. This was the first time the state of Pennsylvania awarded a plaque to honor an African American in the city. In 1997, she was the recipient of the "Spirit of King" award, which honors civil rights advocates from Pittsburgh who embody the ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In Pittsburgh, Lampkin is remembered for her achievements as an advocate for social change and for her remarkable personal attributes. In 1997 Steve Levin wrote in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Daisy Lampkin had a way about her that charmed politicians and emboldened the browbeaten....[S]he could fly into a city, give several speeches with her oratorical flair and get even the most parsimonious to donate;" he added, Lampkin is "considered by some to be one of the great American women of the 20th century." A woman with a passion for hats, Lampkin was affectionately known to her friends and colleagues as "Aunt Daisy." At one time, Lampkin rented an apartment to a teacher named K. Leroy Irvis, who later became the Pennsylvania House of Representatives' longest-serving speaker. Irvis recalled in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "If she had any vulnerability, I never saw it. She could be soft when it was needed or she could be hard and commanding when she needed to be. She was the one person who could tell me to sit down and shut up and I would sit down and shut up."

Award highlights include:

• NAACP Woman of the Year, 1945;
• Eleanor Roosevelt-Mary McLeod Bethune World Citizenship Award, 1964;
• home on Webster Avenue designated a historical landmark, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission;
• Spirit of King Award, Pittsburgh Port Authority, Kingsley Association, Pittsburgh Pirates, 1997.

From: http://www.blackpast.org/?q=aah/lampkin-daisy-1884-1964 and http://www.answers.com/topic/daisy-lampkin#ixzz1FwTUHR4z.

 
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