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BlackFacts Details

Spingarn Medal

The Spingarn Medal is awarded annually by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for outstanding achievement by an African American.

The award, which consists of a gold medal, was created in 1914 by Joel Elias Spingarn, Chairman of the Board of the NAACP. It was first awarded to biologist Ernest E. Just in 1915, and has been given most years thereafter.

Well-known recipients of the award include: W. E. B. Du Bois, George Washington Carver, Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Sammy Davis, Jr., Alex Haley, Andrew Young, Rosa Parks, Coleman Young, Lena Horne, Bill Cosby, Jr., Jesse Jackson, Colin Powell, Alvin Ailey and Maya Angelou.

1916 Charles Young (U.S. Army officer)

1917 Harry T. Burleigh (composer, pianist, singer)

1918 William Stanley Braithwaite (poet, editor, literary critic).

1919 Archibald H. Grimké (U.S. Consul, president of American Negro Academy, president of D.C. Branch of the NAACP)

1920 William E. B. Du Bois (author, founder of NAACP)

1921 Charles S. Gilpin (actor)

1922 Mary B. Talbert (president, National Association of Colored Women)

1926 Carter G. Woodson (historian and founder of Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, editor of Negro Orators and Their Orations)

1928 Charles W. Chesnutt (author)

1930 Henry A. Hunt (high school principal)

1931 Richard B. Harrison (actor)

1937 Walter F. White (executive secretary of the NAACP)

1938 No award given

1942 A. Philip Randolph (labor leader)

1943 William H. Hastie (jurist and educator)

1945 Paul Robeson (singer, actor)

1947 Percy L. Julian (research chemist)

1949 Ralph J. Bunche (diplomat and Nobel laureate, 1950)

1952 Harry T. Moore (NAACP leader, martyr in the "crusade for freedom")

1954 Theodore K. Lawless (physician, educator, philanthropist)

1955 Carl J. Murphy (editor, publisher, civic leader)

1957 Martin Luther King, Jr. (activist and minister)

1959 Edward "Duke" Ellington (composer and pianist)

1969 Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr.