This Week in Universal News: President Truman Addresses the NAACP, 1947

This week, we’re featuring a speech President Harry S. Truman made June 28, 1947, at the closing of the annual conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Truman called for the government to protect not just civil liberties, but civil rights. The “recent events” Truman references in the speech included horrific acts of violence against African-American veterans. In December, the President’s Committee on Civil Rights presented their report outlining the current state of civil rights and the role the federal government should take to achieve greater equality. In January of 1948, President Truman issued executive orders to end segregation in the federal work force and the military.

From the release sheet:

TRUMAN ASKS EQUALITY. Washington: Pres. Truman, speaking at the Lincoln Memorial before the vast throng of Americans, demands that we fight harder to provide equality for all our citizens.  He calls for end of racial barriers.

Truman’s speech marked the first time that the President of the United States addressed the NAACP.

You may view the complete newsreel, which also includes stories of political unrest in France, senior citizens descending on Washington to support the Townsend Plan, and a plan for universal military training here.

About the Universal Newsreel Collection at NARA:

The Universal Newsreel Collection is one of the most used motion picture collections at the National Archives and Records Administration. Universal Newsreels were shown in movie theaters twice a week, from 1929 until 1967, and covered a wide range of American life and history during that time period. Each release usually contained five to seven stories averaging two minutes in length.

In 1974, Universal deeded its edited newsreel and outtake collection to the United States through the National Archives (NARA), and did not place any copyright restrictions on its use (some stories may contain other underlying intellectual property or proprietary use rights).

While Universal disposed of many of the soundtracks, leaving the newsreels incomplete, supplementary material like scripts, shot lists, and event programs can be found in the production files, available for research at Archives II in College Park, Maryland.

Learn more about the Universal Newsreel Collection in this post and in this Prologue article. Watch other Universal Newsreels in our research room, in OPA, and on this playlist.

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