An atmosphere of hatred prevailed in America when the improbable alliance of black and white people, Christians and Jews, men and women, joined in 1909 to form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the NAACP.

Patricia Sullivan, author of Lift Every Voice: The NAACP and the Making of the Civil Rights Movement, will put the audience into history when she speaks on Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. at the Vineyard Haven Public Library.

Published in conjunction with the NAACP’s centennial anniversary and newly released in paperback, Ms. Sullivan’s book is a momentous history of the struggle for civil rights, told through the stories of men and women who fought racial barriers on the street, in the courtroom and in the halls of Congress, from the early 1900s through the 1960s.

Their goal was to stop the downward spiral of black life and race relations in the new century. They formed while the overwhelming number of American blacks lived in the South, where white supremacy was the rule; while in the North, specifically in the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, there was a two-day mob spree killing and wounding blacks, though 40 years had passed since the official end of the Civil War. Lynchings were not uncommon and segregation was legal.

NAACP branches mounted challenges to racial injustices in all parts of the country. In the South, attorneys worked closely with black communities in a grass-roots campaign against segregation that culminated with the 1954 Brown ruling and laid the foundation for the mass movement and civil rights victories of the 1960s.

Ms. Sullivan teaches history at the University of South Carolina and is a fellow in the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University. Her books include Days of Hope: Race and Democracy in the New Deal Era and Freedom Writer: Virginia Foster Durr, Letters from the Civil Rights Years. She lives in Columbia, S.C. and on the Vineyard.

After her talk, she will take questions, and there will be a reception in the main room of the library.