The Region I Office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) serves as an extension of the
National Office of the NAACP in the Western United States. Although branches of the NAACP had been founded in the West as
early as 1913
, they had little regular contact with the New York based national organization during its early history. In 1944, recognizing
the lack of nationwide structure in the organization, the National Office established seven regional offices to coordinate
and provide guidance and assistance to local branches. At the time of its founding, the Region I Office (herein referred to
as "the Office") coordinated the efforts of thirty-two branches in California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington and was referred
to as the West Coast Regional Office.1
Gloria Harrison, "The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in California" (Masters thesis, Stanford
University, 1949), 44.2
Albert S. Broussard, "In Search of the Promised Land: African American Migration to San Francisco, 1900-1945," in Seeking El Dorado: African Americans in California
, eds. Lawrence B. DeGraaf, Kevin Mulroy, and Quintard Taylor (Los Angeles: Autry Museum of Western Heritage, 2001), 190.3
Region I Annual Report 1965, Records of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Region I, BANC MSS
78/180 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.In 1944, Noah Webster Griffin moved from Florida to California to serve as the first Director of the newly established West
Coast Regional Office of the NAACP. A teacher by training, Griffin had become active in the NAACP while fighting for teacher
pay equity in Florida. Griffin was born in Lake City, Florida in 1896, to Gilbert Buchanan and Josephine Mills Griffin. He
earned his A.B. in 1923 from Fisk University and an A.M. from Iowa State University in 1926, after which he taught at various
colleges and universities in Missouri, Texas, and Alabama. In 1931, he married a fellow teacher, Terressa E. Ballou, with
whom he had two sons. Griffin returned to Florida in 1930 where he worked as the principal of Lincoln High School in Tallahasse
(1930-1933) and Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg (1933-1938). In 1938 he left Gibbs High School to serve as executive secretary
of the Florida State Teachers Association. It was at this time that he became interested in the pay scale of Florida teachers.
Discovering that white teachers received more pay than their black counterparts, Griffin began court action for pay equity.
The state courts ruled against him and both he and Terressa Griffin lost their jobs during the fight. The NAACP became involved
in the case and the national office hired Noah Griffin as a Field Secretary in 1944. Later that year he was assigned to open
and serve as the first director of a West Coast Region Office in San Francisco, California, a position he held until 1950.
Griffin continued to work with the NAACP and officially retired from the organization in 1961. Griffin remained in California
for the rest of his life. He passed away in 1974 at the age of 78.
Christian E. Burckel and James G. Fleming, eds., Who's Who in Colored America
(Yonkers, NY: Christian E. Burckel and Associates, 1950).A civil rights lawyer and prominent diplomat, Franklin Hall Williams was born in Flushing, New York in 1917. He earned his
A.B. at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1941 and three years later, in 1944, he married Shirley Broyard, with whom he
had two sons. Williams began his career with the NAACP shortly after graduating from Fordham University Law School in 1945.
At the NAACP's National Office, Williams worked closely with Thurgood Marshall, Special Counsel of the NAACP, on such notable
cases as Shepherd v. Florida
and McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, et.al.
Williams served as assistant special counsel until 1950 at which point he took over as Director of the Region I Office of
the NAACP. He served in that capacity until 1959 when he was appointed assistant attorney general for the state of California.
After the election of John F. Kennedy, Williams was called to assist Sargent Shriver in organizing the United States Peace
Corps. He served as Peace Corps Regional Director for Africa from 1961-1963. He then became the first African American appointed
an Ambassador at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, a capacity in which he served until 1965. It was in 1965 that Williams
was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, a position he held until 1968. Upon his return to the states Williams was chosen to
head a new Urban Center at Columbia University. In 1970, Williams was appointed president of the Phelps-Stokes Fund a position
he held until his death in 1990.5
William C. Matney, ed., Who's Who Among Black Americans, 4th ed (Northbrook, Il: Who's Who Among Black Americans, 1985).Tarea Hall Pittman was born in Bakersfield, California to Susan Pinkney and William Hall. Both her parents' families were
among the first African Americans to settle in California: her mother's family came from South Carolina in 1882 and her father's
from Alabama in 1895. Pittman's family members were leaders in the community, and the Hall brothers were the founders of the
Bakersfield Branch of the NAACP. In 1923, Pittman moved to Berkeley to attend the University of California. It was during
her time there that she met a young dental student, William Pittman, whom she married in 1927. After taking time off while
her husband finished dental school, Pittman returned to earn her B.A. in Social Service at San Francisco State University
and went on to earn a M.A. in Social Welfare at U.C. Berkeley.6
Tarea Hall Pittman, NAACP Official and Civil Rights Worker, an oral history conducted 1971-1972, Regional Oral History Office, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley,
1974.A native of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Leonard Houston Carter attended both the University of Minnesota and the University of
California, Los Angeles. In 1950, he helped organize the Dining Car Employees Union, Local #516, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Carter
was an active NAACP volunteer, serving as President of the St. Paul branch from 1958 to 1959. In 1960, Carter joined the staff
of the NAACP as a Field Secretary in the Midwest Region of the NAACP (Region IV). Carter was promoted to Director of Region
IV in 1964, directing the NAACP program in Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South
Dakota, and Wyoming. A year later, in 1965, Carter was named Director of the West Coast Region, a position he held until his
death in April 1974, at the age of 47. Carter was married to Virginia Robinson with whom he had five children.
"NAACP Regional Director, Leonard Carter, is Dead at 47," The Sacramento Observer, 24 April 1974.Virna Mae Dobson was born in Bridgeport, Oklahoma in 1921 to Eula Gross and William Dobson. She was raised in Lima, OK, an
all-black town, of which her father served as mayor. Both of her parents were schoolteachers: her mother taught home economics
and her father was a school principal. Canson graduated from high school in 1938 and went on to study at the Tuskegee Institute
in Alabama, where she studied home economics. It was there that she met her future husband, Clarence Bernard Canson, a native
of Sacramento, California. The couple married in 1940 and returned to California where they raised two children. It was in
California that Canson first became directly involved in the work of the NAACP. Upon the birth of her first child, Canson
became more concerned with the second class status of African Americans in California. She volunteered her time, working as
a youth advisor to the Sacramento Branch of the NAACP and helping African Americans gain employment. She worked at the Signal
Corporation while her husband served overseas during World War II. It was after Clarence Canson's return from the war that
he decided to pursue his law degree, graduating from the McGeorge Law School at the University of the Pacific in 1954. 8
Tarea Hall Pittman, "Waging the War on Poverty and Discrimination in California through the NAACP, 1953-1974," an oral history
conducted in 1984 in Citizen Advocacy Organizations
, 1960-1975, Regional Oral History Office, University of California, Berkeley, 1987.9
Canson was employed jointly by NAACP and California Committee for Fair Practices March-June 1967.