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”→
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.