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National Advocacy on Behalf of the Poor: An Analysis of Organizational Decision-Making
Unformatted Document Text:  My findings indicate that despite such disincentives, both the NAACP and the National Urban League increased their anti-poverty activities during the War on Poverty, although each organization varied in its approach. In 1965, the NAACP Board decided that the organization should not become a prime contractor of the federal anti-poverty funding because such a commitment would compromise the organization’s ability to protect the rights of African Americans from the federal government. 10 The National Urban League, on the other hand, worked closely with the Johnson Administration on the drafting of the EOA, and eventually revised its organizational structure to be more amenable to War on Poverty grants. My findings indicate that each organization responded to the War on Poverty based on its conception of its role among civil rights organizations. Internal factors, such as rates of organizational growth, mediated how each group responded to external factors, such as perceived competition from other groups. In the next section, I present theoretical understandings of interest group decision- making. Secondly, I explain my approach to establishing organizational priorities. I then establish the level of attention that both groups devoted to anti-poverty policy during the War on Poverty. The NAACP and NUL increased their attention to the needs of the poor during this period, but with varying tactics and goals. Next, I present my findings as to why both organizations shifted their priorities during the 1960s. As I demonstrate systematically in this paper, the NAACP’s and NUL’s roles in the civil rights movement led each group to commit attention to anti-poverty issues, and to focus attention to grassroots organizing concerning the 10 NAACP, Board of Directors Meeting Minutes, April 12, 1965, Supplement to Part I, 1960-1965, Group 3, Series A, Box A-26. The National Urban League archives are housed at the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Washington, DC. All parts of the NUL’s national files were examined. All future references to National Urban League documents will be labeled “NUL”. 7

Authors: Paden, Catherine.
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My findings indicate that despite such disincentives, both the NAACP and the National 
Urban League increased their anti-poverty activities during the War on Poverty, although each 
organization varied in its approach.  In 1965, the NAACP Board decided that the organization 
should not become a prime contractor of the federal anti-poverty funding because such a 
commitment would compromise the organization’s ability to protect the rights of African 
Americans from the federal government.
  The National Urban League, on the other hand, 
worked closely with the Johnson Administration on the drafting of the EOA, and eventually 
revised its organizational structure to be more amenable to War on Poverty grants.  My findings 
indicate that each organization responded to the War on Poverty based on its conception of its 
role among civil rights organizations.  Internal factors, such as rates of organizational growth, 
mediated how each group responded to external factors, such as perceived competition from 
other groups.   
In the next section, I present theoretical understandings of interest group decision-
making.  Secondly, I explain my approach to establishing organizational priorities.  I then 
establish the level of attention that both groups devoted to anti-poverty policy during the War on 
Poverty.  The NAACP and NUL increased their attention to the needs of the poor during this 
period, but with varying tactics and goals.  Next, I present my findings as to why both 
organizations shifted their priorities during the 1960s.  As I demonstrate systematically in this 
paper, the NAACP’s and NUL’s roles in the civil rights movement led each group to commit 
attention to anti-poverty issues, and to focus attention to grassroots organizing concerning the 
10
 NAACP, Board of Directors Meeting Minutes, April 12, 1965, Supplement to Part I, 1960-1965, Group 3, Series 
A, Box A-26.  The National Urban League archives are housed at the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, 
Washington, DC.  All parts of the NUL’s national files were examined.  All future references to National Urban 
League documents will be labeled “NUL”.  
7


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