In October of 1932, a group of 15 concerned citizens formed the Negro Citizens Committee. These citizens represented a cross-section of professions, yet they were joined through their sincere desire to make a difference in the lives of Black people living in Raleigh, North Carolina. By 1938, the organization had helped establish Tuttle Community Center, secure buses for students at Washington High School and fought discrimination against blacks at the old Fayetteville Street Theater.
During the 1940’s, though still young, the organization spearheaded a successful protest against a local bus terminal for discrimination against blacks. The 1950’s and 60’s brought a flurry of activity for the organization as it struggled to right injustices against Raleigh’s black citizens. It was during this period that the Raleigh Citizens Association brought national attention to itself and the City of Raleigh by filing a federal injunction against the Raleigh School Board for denying black students the right to attend Broughton High School. As its membership expanded to more than 60 citizens during this year, the organization revised its structure and its constitution and established standing committees including a political action committee, a housing committee and a legal committee. The Raleigh Citzens Association became a life member of the NAACP and continued to work for equality and civil rights using sit-ins, protests, boycotts and demonstrations.
The organization branched out in the early 1970’s to include citizens from all of Wake County, thus becoming the Raleigh Wake Citizen’s Association (RWCA). Political involvement became a key issue as the RWCA involved itself in local, state and national elections through voter registration awareness campaigns and get out the vote efforts. During the late 1970’s, the 80’s and 90’s a substantial number of African Americans were elected to political offices we had never held. Some of these were Wake county Sheriff, State Auditor, Speaker of the House of Representatives of North Carolina, Wake County Register of Deeds and Chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
Today, the RWCA is at the cutting edge of social and political action. Members are active in issues of immigration reform, homelessness, economic development, eliminating health disparities and advocating for high quality education for all children. The organization also continues to endorse in political races and educate voters, sponsor candidate forums, etc.
October, 2007, marks the 75th Anniversary of the RWCA. Since the beginning, this organization has taken the lead on issues effecting the minority citizens of Raleigh and Wake County, and has no plans to halt its rich Legacy of Advocacy.