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Abstract

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. Starting in the late 1920s and early 1930s, education came to occupy a central place in the NAACP’s agenda, and education desegregation became the focus of its efforts to break the back of Jim Crow. 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. An organization that had been focused on protecting Black lives from white violence reoriented its attention to a new campaign, which siphoned off resources from other projects, such as workers’ economic rights and Black labor concerns.

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