Lulu Belle White née Madison was a civil rights activist in the 1940s and 1950s. She devoted most of her adult life to the struggle against Jim Crow in Texas. She campaigned for the right to vote, for equal pay for equal work, and for desegregation of public facilities.
Madison was born in 1900 in Elmo, Texas, to Henry Madison, a farmer, and Easter Madison, a domestic worker. She received her early education in the public schools of Elmo and Terrell, Texas. In 1928, she graduated from Prairie View College, where she received a Bachelor’s degree in English.
She married Julius White and taught school for nine years. However, she resigned her post to devote full-time service to the Texas National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which was campaigning to eliminate the state’s all-white Democratic primary.
In 1937, she became the director of Youth Council, and two years later, she became the acting president of the Houston branch of the NAACP. Under her leadership, Houston became the second largest NAACP chapter in the country. In 1946, she was named the director of the organization’s state branches for the state of Texas.
White led the fight to integrate the University of Texas by persuading Herman Marion Sweatt to become a plaintiff in the NAACP lawsuit. The case, Sweatt v. Painter, ended de jure segregation at the campus and established an important precedent for Brown v. Board of Education four years later.
In 1949, she resigned as executive secretary of the Houston chapter and became state director of the NAACP. She remained in the latter post until her death on July 6, 1957.