Civil Rights Tour: Employment - Non-Partisan Council

961 Florida Avenue NW (Site)

In 1938, the National Non-partisan Council on Public Affairs (NPC), an outgrowth of the Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority, became the first organization devoted to lobbying the federal government to advance African American civil rights. The group initially focused on raising public awareness of police brutality against Black Washingtonians and advocating for DC home rule. Entirely funded by AKA, the group quickly expanded its mission to ensuring that African Americans benefited from New Deal jobs and entitlement programs such as Social Security, which then excluded domestic and agricultural workers. Along with the Washington Urban League, NPC also worked to abolish  the requirement that applications for federal government jobs include a photograph of the applicant, a practice that facilitated racial discrimination in hiring.

In partnership with the national AKA, led by Dorothy Ferebee, and chapters around the country, NPC lobbied successfully for the admission of African American women into the US Navy during World War II and for integrating the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps (WAC).

In 1948, AKA collaborated with several other Greek organizations to replace NPC with a larger organization, the American Council on Human Rights. Led by Elmer Henderson, the ACHR continued to carry out NPC's mission of ensuring fair employment and wages, advancing Black voting rights, and demanding access to decent, non-segregated housing. In DC, the group worked to desegregate places of employment and public accommodations, including federally operated facilities such as Anacostia Pool.

The Non-Partisan Council on Public Affairs was located at 961 Florida Avenue NW.