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The Negro Sanhedrin was founded by Kelly Miller (1863-1939). The organization aimed to increase collaboration and unity among Black organizations in the United States. The “Sanhedrin” originally was a Jewish religious and legislative body of ancient Israel. It was comprised of leaders appointed to oversee each city of Israel. In Hebrew, the word means “sitting together, an assembly or council.” The term embodied what Miller envisioned, a national organization with a clear agenda and regional leadership in place across the United States. Miller’s singular focus on the condition of the Black community in the United States was different than that of other movements active at the time, including the Pan African Conference led by W.E.B. Du Bois, which focused on the global Black community. It also differed from the vision of Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association which focused on the emigration of Black Americans back to Africa.
Miller felt that black organizations often duplicated efforts and lacked clarity in addressing the priorities of the black community with a unified voice. Miller, a lauded sociologist, served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Howard University. He was highly respected and able to draw representation from sixty-three Black organizations to meet in Chicago for 5 days in 1924. Organizations included the National Association For The Advancement of Colored People, the Equal Rights League, the Race Congress, the International Uplift League, and the Friends of Negro Freedom. Miller also invited individuals of influence unaffiliated with a Black organization. The event drew approximately 300 delegates.Continue reading “The Negro Sanhedrin”