Document 5: Herbert J. Seligmann, Memorandum to Mary B. Talbert, Butler Wilson and Helen Curtis, 27 June 1922, NAACP Papers, Part 7: The Anti-Lynching Campaign, 1912-1955, Series B: Anti-Lynching Legislative and Publicity Files, 1916-1955, Library of Congress (Microfilm, Reel 3, Frames 139-40).
This letter by Herbert Seligman, of the NAACP Executive Board, was written just days after Helen Curtis, Mary Talbert and Butler Wilson decided to organize a women's fundraising group for the NAACP campaign promoting the Dyer Anti-Lynching Bill. Curtis formulated the idea for the Anti-Lynching Crusaders after hearing Congressman Leonidas Dyer speak at the NAACP's annual conference on the 22nd of June (see Document 14). The NAACP offered guidance to the organizers of the Anti-Lynching Crusaders and appeared to give full support to the women involved.
Memorandum to Mesdames Mary B. Talbert, Butler Wilson and Helen Curtis.
From Herbert J. Seligmann. June 27, 1922.
Publicity: 1. I talked with Mr. Edward L. Bernays[A] over the telephone and he expressed great interest in your project. He said experience had shown the advisability of complete organization of both administrative and publicity branches of the campaign, mentioning 20 percent of the fund it was hoped to obtain as necessary to be underwritten. I told him that any such sum to start with was out of the question and advised a conference at which the matter could be discussed with him. I suggest a conference with Mr. Bernays, in any event, whether it is decided to use his services or not, as he will have many expert and valuable suggestions. His address is 9 East 46th Street, telephone Vanderbilt 0963.
2. I suggest the adoption of some slogan such as, possibly, “One Million Dollars To Stop Lynching Women” on which an appeal could be made to women especially through advertising. Every effort should be made to obtain direct contact in all localities with newspaper editors and to have the campaign mentioned in letters to editors written by persons of prominence.
3. Aside from direct press work, it would be well to have the campaign endorsed by mayors and other public officials. There could be women’s mass meetings and women’s parades. Special attempts should be made to get in touch with the editors of leading women’s magazines and the editors of women’s pages of newspapers.
4. Local committees might be formed, either through women’s clubs or independent of them to district and canvass their towns.
5. The radio broadcasting service can be used to spread your message, as I found in the campaign on the Dyer Bill.
6. It is important to have all publicity directed and issuing from one central source closely in touch with the drive directors.
7. It is important that publicity be planned so that all stories except feature articles be released to the newspapers simultaneously: this means planning and sending them out in advance with an advance date.
8. The campaign should emphasize that the work is being done not as a racial but as a national and patriotic service directed to sustaining orderly government. It might be possible to get in communication with the white women of Arkansas, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, etc.. who have come out against lynching even as punishment for “the usual crime”.
9. Tactical suggestions can be gotten from the women’s political organizations and it might be possible to play the two leading parties against one another.
A. Edward Bernays was a noted public relations expert who was apparently advising Seligmann, the NAACP's public relations director, on the NAACP's forthcoming anti-lynching fundraising campaign.
Back to Text
| Documents Projects and Archives | Teacher's Corner | Scholar's Edition | Full-Text Sources | About Us | Contact Us |