American writer and artistic photographer (1880-1964) who was a patron of the Harlem Renaissance and the literary executor of Gertrude Stein. He gained fame as a writer, and notoriety as well, for his 1926 novel Nigger Heaven. TLS, one page, 8 x 11, September 29, 1943. Letter to Walter White, an executive with the NAACP, in part: "Since we must have met first in 1924, it gives me an inordinate amount of pleasure to be able to boast that I have known you intimately for almost the entire length of your tenure of office with the NAACP. During that period you and I have lived through the most important epoch of Negro advancement in America, a period during which lynching has been diminished, it it has not been entirely abolished, a period during which the Negro has begun to assert himself in every artistic, scientific, technical, commercial, judicial, political, and military field of activity. I happen to KNOW, Walter, that there is not a single one of these evidences of Negro progress in which you have not been interested. Indeed, you have been personally a factor in the achievement of many of them…It is a pleasure to remember that I knew you many years before Time put you on its cover, many years, indeed, before Time was published at all. It is certainly true that we would be friends if what is genially known as the ‘Negro Problem’ existed only as a souvenir of the bad, old days!” Van Vechten adds a handwritten postscript: “Would I be considered greedy if I requested you to promise that this book, of which this page forms a part, would eventually be turned over to the James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection of Negro Arts and Letters at Yale University?” In fine condition.
Walter Francis White was a civil rights activist (1893-1955) who led the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for a quarter of a century, 1929-1955, after joining the organization as an investigator in 1918. Under White's leadership, the NAACP set up its Legal Defense Fund, which conducted numerous legal challenges to segregation and disfranchisement, and achieved many successes. Among these was the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which determined that segregated education was inherently unequal.
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