WALTER FRANCIS WHITE (1893-1955) was an African American civil rights activist. Born in Atlanta, he was raised by parents who attended Atlanta University, a historically black college. His mixed European and African ancestry frequently clashed with his physical appearance–despite being blond-haired and blue-eyed, he identified as black and frequently experienced prejudice in his youth. White learned to preserve himself through passing, which would aid him in times of danger during his career as an activist in the South. He graduated from his parents’ alma mater in 1916 and moved to New York City within a few years. White quickly worked his way through the ranks of the NAACP, eventually serving as the organization’s leader. From 1929 to 1955, he spearheaded the NAACP’s campaigns for desegregation and voting rights, gaining a reputation as a skilled orator and fierce advocate for civil rights. He lobbied the federal government for anti-lynching bills, conducted investigations of race riots around the country, and steered the NAACP through competition with the American Communist Party while consolidating the party against the black nationalism of Marcus Garvey. White was also a critically acclaimed author of novels and non-fiction. His novel The Fire in the Flint (1924) is recognized as an important work of the Harlem Renaissance.