White’s first major racial justice campaign effort in the national NAACP office came when he persuaded the Association to oppose the Atlanta Board of Education’s decision to eliminate seventh grade for African American students as part of an effort to finance a new high school for white students. Between 1918 and 1931, White built a national reputation both within and beyond NAACP circles. He authored a number of books, including Rope and Faggot: A Biography of Judge Lynch (1929), which became a major expose of lynching in the U.S.
At great personal risk, White used his fair skin, blue eyes, and other “white” features, to successfully infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist organizations. His clandestine surveys of these groups and their activities gave the NAACP first-hand knowledge of at least 40 murders of black people.
By 1931 White had become executive secretary, the highest position in the association. During his tenure, the NAACP led the fight for anti-lynching legislation, and initiated trailblazing legal battles to eliminate all-white primaries, poll taxes and de jure segregation.
Walter White served as the NAACP’s executive secretary until his death on March 21, 1955. White was 65. He was succeeded as executive director by Roy Wilkins.