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NEA and ATA Make Overtures to Unification

Beginning in 1945, the Joint Committee discussed plans for NEA/ATA unification. At the time, 16 states and the District of Columbia had separate associations for Blacks and Whites. Because some state laws prohibited Black teachers from joining White organizations, NEA affiliated 18 Black education associations as dual affiliates in southern and border states and the District of Columbia. The following year, NEA and ATA affiliates in Maryland and Missouri formed single state associations.

Still spearheading cooperation between the associations, the Joint Committee issued a 1949 report, "Growth Toward Full Opportunity for Every Boy and Girl," which called for every child to develop to his or her fullest capacity, equal educational opportunity for all, and a "special effort to bring up the lag wherever it exists."

That same year, 36 ATA delegates from states with segregated associations attended NEA's Representative Assembly. And still more progress was made. In 1951, John Warren Davis, a former ATA president and a board member of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, became the first Black chairperson of an NEA Commission when he took the helm of the Commission on the Defense of Democracy Through Education. In 1952, former ATA President George William Gore, Jr., was elected vice-president of the NEA, the first Black person ever to hold that office. And in 1953, the NEA RA in Miami Beach became the first fully-integrated convention held in the south by a major national organization.