"We marvel at the differences between our world and the world as it was a century ago," said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
"We are the most responsible for those changes, and I don't think there would be a President Barack Obama without us," said Julian Bond, the chairman of the NAACP.
It was 1909 when lynchings, race riots, Jim Crow laws, and segregation spurred an interracial group of activists to found the NAACP. Their mission: real equality between the races.
Over the decades the NAACP helped knock down barriers and build up laws. Before he was the first black Supreme Court Justice, NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall won the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case, ending the doctrine of "separate, but equal."
"Today's opinion makes a clear-cut determination that the Negro schoolchildren must be given their rights," Marshall said.
Agents of change - from pressing presidents on civil rights, to pressing Hollywood to recognize black talent.
The country has changed so much, some wonder if there's still a need for the NAACP in the 21st century.
Columnist Clarence Page says they're out of touch.
"They're still dealing with problems they've essentially already solved," said Page, who is a syndicated columnist with the Chicago Tribune. "And when I say solved, I don't mean racism has disappeared, but it's less important to black life in America today than economics."
But the NAACP insists racism is the main reason so many black students languish in poor schools and why blacks - only 13 percent of the population - are 41 percent of death row inmates, and why black children were put out of a white swimming pool in Philadelphia just last week.
"They were like mad that black people were coming," said camper Marcus Allen.
Ben Jealous, 35, is the organization's new president.
"We're a place for people to come when they feel alone and picked on, and join with others and fight back and change that system," Jealous said.
The NAACP says many barriers have been crossed - but not the finish line.