Fred Gray (1930 – ) was described by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as “the brilliant young negro who later became the chief counsel for the protest movement” (King, 41). He provided legal counsel to Rosa Parks, the Montgomery Improvement Association, and other civil rights organizations. Born in Montgomery, AL, Gray became a preacher when as a teenager. He was the youngest of 5 children. Gray received a bachelors degree from Alabama State College For Negroes in 1951; and an LLB from Case Western Reserve University in 1954. He was unable to attend law school in Alabama due to segregation. Returning to Montgomery after graduation, he began a private law practice, while also working as a minister at Holt Street Church of Christ.
Dr. King’s assassination was not the only tragedy to occur at the Lorraine Motel on April 4, 1968. After witnessing his assassination Lorraine Bailey, (wife of the owner) had a stroke and later died. She was also the switchboard operator. This is partially why there was a delay in getting an ambulance to the hotel. The motel was African American owned and operated and hosted many black celebrities and influential figures.
Today our nation celebrates the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday! To honor the legacy of Dr. King, we bring you another quote from Dr. King’s book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos Or Community. Published in 1967, it was Dr. King’s 4th book and the last one he wrote before his assassination in 1968.
In Where Do We Go From Here, King looks forward as the civil rights movement transitions into a new phase. King was certain that this new phase would also bring on new challenges as African Americans would expect to see the rights they had fought to achieve continue to remain enforced by the U.S. government. King also believed that the fight for equality would continue with the African American community continuing its struggle for living wages, fair housing, and education.
Our second quote being shared from Where Do We Go From Here is: “In the days ahead we must not consider it unpatriotic to raise certain basic questions about our national character.” -Dr. Martin Luther, King, Jr.,
In honor of the 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday commemoration Black Mail will be sharing a 3 part compilation of quotes from “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos To Community”. Published in 1967, Where Do We Go from Here was King’s evaluation of the state of race relations in the U.S. following ten years of the U.S. Civil Rights movement.
King wrote the final draft of the book while vacationing in Jamaica in January and February 1967. During this time King stayed in Ocho Rios, Jamaica where he rented a home with no telephone. This marked one of only a very few times when he was completely isolated from the day to day leadership of the civil rights movement. In this environment he was able to focus on completion of the book. 50+ years later, the book still holds some powerful parallels to our current political climate.
It is important for the liberal to see that the oppressed person who agitates for his rights is not the creator of tension….How strange it would be to condemn a physician who, through persistent work and the ingenuity of his medical skills, discovered cancer in a patient. Would anyone be so ignorant as to say he caused the cancer? Through the skills and discipline of direct action we reveal that there is a dangerous cancer of hatred and racism in our society. We did not cause the cancer; we merely exposed it. Only through this kind of exposure will the cancer be cured.”– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?
On June 15, 1953, the Baton Rouge Bus Boycott occurred. It was the first Black bus boycott in in the U.S. Years before the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the black residents of Baton Rouge took a stand against racism and segregation. In 1950, the city began to require all residents to use segregated public bussing. Prior to this, black residents utilized black-owned public transportation and required all residents to use the city’s public transportation which enforced segregated seating. Black residents had to sit at the back half of the bus or stand, even if seats in the “white” section were empty. Black passengers comprised 80% of bus passengers and were fed up with standing up on buses while “white” seats remained empty, particularly after the company had raised fares from ten to fifteen cents in January 1953. Continue reading “Before The Montgomery Bus Boycott There Was The Baton Rouge Bus Boycott”→
Founded in April 1960 the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was organized by African American college students to give younger blacks a stronger voice in the civil rights movement. Activist Ella Baker, who was a director with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was credited with organizing students to launch SNCC. Baker was concerned that SCLC, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was not in sync with younger blacks who sought faster progress in the civil rights movement. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others hoped that SNCC would serve as the youth arm of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). However, SNCC chose to remain independent of SCLC throughout its existence. Continue reading “2020 Marks 60th Anniversary Of Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)”→
Dr. Willa Beatrice Player (1917 – 2003) was an African American educator and civil rights, activist. She made history by becoming the first African American woman to lead a four year, fully accredited liberal arts college. Player took the helm as president of Bennett College for Women from 1956-1966.
Golden Asro Frinks (1920 – 2004) was a field secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and a civil rights activist. Frinks was born in Wampee, North Carolina but lived mainly in Edenton, SC where he resided since the age of 17. He was named, “Golden” by his mother because of a “golden text” of scripture that was read at a church service she attended on the day of his birth.
Frinks was an unsung hero of the civil rights movement for 30 years; leading countless youth and adults; many of whom were African American and Native American. He was arrested eighty-seven times for his civil rights activities. A veteran of the United States Army, he served during World War II as a staff sergeant at Fort McCullough, Alabama. After his military service, he returned to Edenton and married Ruth Holley. They had one daughter, Goldi Ann Frinks Wells.
Frinks became involved in civil rights activism and organizing in 1956 in an effort to desegregate restaurants, theaters, stores, and other public spaces. He also led the fight to end Jim Crow practices. He used many of the same nonviolent tactics of civil disobedience used by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. such as sit ins, demonstrations, protests, and marches. Frinks was selected by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr to become Field Secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC); a position he held until 1977.
His unorthodox style was extremely effective and earned him the nickname of “The Great Agitator”. Frinks lead over a dozen civil rights movements during his career as an activist; three of which were on par with movements led in Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama. His activism was not limited only to North Carolina. A great deal of the organizing for the civil rights organizing in Selma, Alabama was conducted in in Frinks’ home. He also assisted with organizing the March on Washington. Leading efforts to advocate on behalf of individuals experiencing racial discrimination was also a hallmark of Frink’s activism. Joann Little was one such individual. She was an African American woman accused of killing the jailer who had assaulted her while she was in prison in the 1970’s. Frinks also advocated on behalf of the Tuscarora Indians in 1973; marching to the state capital to support the group in gaining tribal recognition as well as representation on the Robeson County School Board.
Frinks is remembered as having some unorthodox ways; frequently dressing in a gold colored jumpsuit or sometimes a dashiki adorned with gold chains with a cross. To energize meetings, he might jump on a table. At one time, Frinks set a coop of chickens free around a courthouse building in Alabama to delay the start of a court hearing; a strategy he may have employed on more than one occasion.
He also played an integral role in advocating on behalf of four black teenagers in 1993. The teens were arrested after a fight at a bowling alley in Hampton, Virginia. Frinks became involved on behalf of the NAACP over concerns that the charges against the teens were excessive. One of the youths being charged, was a local football and basketball standout, Allen Iverson. Iverson maintained his innocence; stating that he left the area as the fight started. Iverson felt he was being targeted because he was a “star”. He had been sentenced to five years in prison. Frinks involvement was instrumental in bringing national attention to Iverson and the incident. 60 Minutes covered the story and Governor Douglas Wilder would eventually commute his sentence. Iverson was then able to attend Georgetown University and play basketball. He went pro just two years later and experienced great success as shooting guard in the NBA.
“If you want me to sing this Christmas song with the feeling and the meaning, you better see if you can locate that check.” -Mahalia Jackson
Mahaila Jackson (1927-1971) is celebrated as one of the greatest gospel singers of all time. She is referred to as “The Queen Of Gospel”. As a child, she shared a small “shotgun” house with 13 people. Raised by an aunt after the death of her mother, Jackson quit school in 4th grade to help out at home. Her amazing vocal skills were evident even when she was a young child. She moved to Chicago at age 16 looking for better opportunities. Instead, she found only low-income domestic work. While in Chicago she joined Greater Salem Baptist Church and began touring with the Johnson Brothers as a “fish and bread” singer (singing for donations). She would later sell 10 cent tickets for her performances and also found work singing at funerals and revivals. She promised to live a pure life and not use her vocal skills for secular entertainment….a promise she kept. Continue reading “Mahalia Jackson: Serious About Securing The Bag!!”→