The Spingarn Medal
The Springarn Medal was instituted in 1914 by the late J.E. Spingarn (then Chairman of the NAACP Board of Directors), who gave annually until his death in 1939, a gold medal to be awarded for the highest or noblest achievement by an American Negro during the preceding year or years. A fund sufficient to continue the award was set up by his will to perpetuate this award.
The purpose of the medal is twofold: first to call the attention of the American people to the existence of distinguished merit and achievement among American Negroes and secondly to serve as a reward for such achievement, and as a stimulus to the ambition of colored youth.
The medal is presented annually to the man or woman of African descent and American citizenship who shall have made the highest achievement during the preceding year or years in any honorable field of human endeavor. The Committee of Awards is bound by no burdensome restrictions, but may decide for itself each year what particular act or achievement deserves the highest acclaim. The choice is not limited to any one field, whether of intellectual, spiritual, physical, scientific, artistic, commercial, educational or other endeavor. It is intended primarily that the medal shall be for the highest achievement in the preceding year. If no achievement in one year seems to merit it, the Committee may award it for work achieved in preceding years, or may withhold it. The medal is usually presented to the winner at the annual convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the presentation speech is delivered by a distinguished citizen.