Search results for 'police brutality'

The D.C. black liberation movement seen through the life of Reginald H. Booker

28 Jan
Booker forcefully denounces D.C. freeway plan: 1970

Reginald Booker at a 1970 D.C. Council hearing.

By Craig G. Simpson

Reginald Harvey Booker was an activist and later a revolutionary leader of many social justice movements from the mid 1950s through the 1970s in the District of Columbia; involved in early desegregation struggles, the anti-Vietnam War movement, anti-freeway and pro Metro construction battles, black worker rights and anti-police brutality efforts, among a myriad of other rights battles.

He was the target of a CIA, FBI and District of Columbia police spying and disruption campaign from at least 1968 through 1972.

Booker is sometimes briefly credited for his work in the anti-freeway battles, but died with no fanfare in 2015. He had no Washington Post obituary and has no Wikipedia page, yet he played a vital role in many of the pivotal civil rights and black liberation struggles in the District of Columbia during that era.

Warning—This is a long post that runs over 100 printed pages.

Early Life

Southwest D.C. prior to ‘Negro removal:’ 1949

4th Street SW in 1949 near Booker’s childhood home before Southwest was razed for urban renewal.

Reginald Booker was born in Philadelphia, Pa. June 20, 1941 and his family moved to Washington, D.C. when he was nine years old to 360 N Street SW where he attended Bowen Elementary School. It was at this time that Booker became aware of racial discrimination and Jim Crow in the District of Columbia.[1][2]

“I didn’t know anything about segregated schools until our family moved to Washington, D.C….next door to me lived a white family that had a little boy. We used to play together,” Booker said in a 1970 interview.

“I began to realize when I got in the sixth grade that for whatever reason blacks and whites did not attend the same school.”[3]

Urban renewal in southwest Washington forced Booker’s family to move and they settled in a home at 459 Luray Place in the Parkview neighborhood a few blocks from the Washington Hospital Center.[4]

“When I was in the seventh grade I was attending Shaw Junior High School, I became acutely aware that blacks and whites did not attend the same schools because they claimed blacks were inferior or something like that,”

“This is where I really became socially conscious when I hit seventh grade at Shaw Junior High School. Because at that time I was at Shaw the Supreme Court handed down their ’54 decision. I remember teachers had reminded us how to behave; watch our manners when we went to an integrated school.”[5]

Adolescent Activism

Youth March on Washington for Civil Rights: 1958

The 1958 Youth March on D.C.

When he was 13, he attended his first demonstrations for rights when he walked from his house to a picket line protesting Jim Crow at a Woolworth’s lunch counter at 14th Street and Park Road NW.[6]

By the time he was 16, he joined national marches in the city led by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Dr. King used to make a lot of appearances in Washington speaking at rallies. I used to attend them,” Booker recalled.[7]

King led a series of national demonstrations beginning with the 1957 Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom that drew upwards of 25,000 people to call on President Dwight Eisenhower to enforce the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decisions finding segregated public schools illegal.

King followed up with the 1958 and 1959 youth marches for the same purpose and these run-ups to the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom cemented his national leadership of the civil rights movement and gained valuable experience staging mass demonstrations.

Booker also began reading and raising his consciousness.

“When I was in junior high school I read the Communist Manifesto. I have read it several times since then. I began to really become aware of what was going on. I’ve always been an avid reader,” Booker remembered.[8]

Booker graduated from Roosevelt High School in June 1961 where he played football as an offensive lineman.[9]

Critique of white supremacy at D.C. schools

Reginald Booker at Roosevelt High School: 1957

Reginald Booker (front row, far left) in 1957 at Roosevelt High School.

Booker spoke to Afro American reporter Chuck Stone by phone in December 1961 after an article on white supremacist practices in the District schools, including Roosevelt, was published in the Afro.

Stone interviewed Rosa K. Weiner, a white Fulbright Scholar and honors graduate of Radcliffe College, who had been a teacher at Western and Roosevelt high schools before resigning in protest of their racist practices.

Based on the interview, Stone wrote that “Several high school administrators repeatedly made derogatory statements about colored people, defended segregation in the District school system, called all colored students ‘potential criminals,” and referred to colored people as ‘coons,’” according to Weiner.

Booker, who had only graduated months before, confirmed the central charges made by Weiner.

School administrator accused of white supremacy: 1961

Vice principal Walter E. Horn.

Booker was quoted as saying, “Everything you wrote in that article was true. The white teachers at Roosevelt gave Miss Wiener a hard time because she treated the colored students decently. There were all kinds of racial segregation at Roosevelt because of [assistant principals] Mr. [Walter E.] Horn and Mrs. [Erna R.] Chapman.”

Stone said that Booker confirmed details of Wiener’s account including the barring black students from the stage crew and the refusal to permit black students to work in the school bank. “They let everybody work in the bank even Chinese, but no colored girls,” said Booker.

However, Stone said it was Booker who offered the sharpest indictment of the school system:

Vice principal accused of white supremacy: 1961

Roosevelt High School vice principal Erna R. Chapman.

“The basic track system operates. Even when colored students make “A’s” and “B’s,” they are still never promoted out of the basic track. Many white teachers are racially prejudiced against them and colored students just don’t have a chance to improve.”[10]

In perhaps his first public speaking engagement, Booker attended an April 9, 1963 hearing on reinstating corporal punishment in the schools and a policy permitting expulsion of students with disciplinary problems that was proposed by superintendent Carl Hansen.

Despite the overwhelming sentiment at the hearing in favor of the proposal, Booker testified against it, saying that Hansen’s plan “would only build resentment” among students.[11]

Booker joins CORE

Marchers demand job & housing equality in DC: 1963

A 1963 CORE demonstration in D.C.

After graduating from high school, Booker became involved with the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) that was then headed by Julius Hobson. CORE took direct action to break down segregation in this period prior to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

“CORE at that time was the only organization that was doing anything in Washington,” Booker said.[12]

In the early 1960s, there were few shopping areas outside of downtown Washington, D.C. The commercial district was concentrated along 7th Street NW and F Street NW where department stores like Woodward and Lothrop, Kann’s, Garfinkel’s, the Hecht Company and Lansburgh’s were located along with a host of specialty stores.

The lunch counters and restaurants downtown were mostly integrated for customers during the Mary Church Terrell-led picketing and lawsuit of the early 1950s,[13] but employment remained largely segregated with better paying jobs reserved for whites.

“CORE integrated all of the department stores downtown. As I remember we picketed all of the department stores.”[14]

CORE picked up in 1961-62 where a group of ministers had left off in 1959, putting pressure on selective downtown stores to do meaningful hiring and promotion of black workers, using tactics of picketing, boycotts and the issuance of a “Christmas Selective Buying List” that named stores that had meaningful de-segregation policies.[15][16]

The group had success reaching agreements with Hecht’s, Lansburgh’s, Woodward & Lothrop, Kann’s, Jelleff’s, Hahn’s Shoe Store, Bond Clothes, Raleigh’s Haberdasher, William Allen Shoes, among others.[17][18][19]

Lansburgh’s was among the toughest to crack and picket lines lasted several months. The downtown store employed 1,000 workers of whom about 200 were black, but only 11 were sales clerks and 17 were in clerical jobs at the time of the picketing and boycott.[20]

Hospital desegregation

Black doctors fight hospital discrimination: 1960

1960 conference on integrating District of Columbia hospitals.

CORE also turned its attention to desegregating hospitals and began its effort at the one that almost cast a shadow on Booker’s home.

“CORE broke up discrimination in the hospitals in the District of Columbia in terms of segregating patients by race in rooms. I remember very specifically we started in the Washington Hospital Center. They’d had an admission policy segregating black and white patients according to race.”[21]

Black doctors organized through the Medico-Chirurgical Society of Washington and the Imhotep conference had pushed for admitting privileges and integrating patients, but did not engage in direct action.[22] CORE protests began at the WHC June 11, 1964[23] and days later seven were arrested for staging a sit-in in the main lobby.[24]

Tim Coleman, a spokesperson for the hospital at the time, acknowledged the practice, “The Hospital does separate its patients by race when it creates an emotional environment that contributes to the recovery of the patient.”[25]

Within a few more days of picketing, the hospital gave in and reached a settlement with the NAACP, CORE and the Urban League to assign rooms without regard to race. The agreement was brokered by hospital trustee Gilbert Hahn and called for an end to picketing and the dropping of charges against the seven arrested.[26]

“Then the rest of the hospitals began to fall in line,” Booker said.[27]

CORE began picketing Casualty Hospital next and reached an agreement similar to the Hospital Center July 17th[28]. Columbia Hospital for Women voluntarily complied before picketing started.[29]

Hobson fired from CORE

Hobson seeks D.C. Delegate post: 1971

Julius Hobson in 1971.

Prior to the hospital pickets, Hobson had been pressuring the school system to improve education for black children and charged that 10 years after the Bolling v. Sharpe decision outlawing segregation in District public schools that black children were still segregated and getting inferior education.

In March 1964, he called for a one-day school boycott on April 30th and a week-long series of pickets and civil disobedience.[30] Almost immediately mainstream civil rights organizations condemned the boycott [31]

Hobson, after meeting with school Superintendent Carl F. Hansen, later called off the boycott saying that Hansen committed to 90 percent of what he [Hobson] was trying to achieve, but vowed to monitor school system progress.[32]

Hobson’s leadership at D.C. CORE had been under attack from a group of dissidents that accused him of “undemocratic procedures.” He had been re-elected the previous month to head the local group, but James Farmer, the national director, removed Hobson and placed the local CORE chapter in receivership during the time the hospital pickets were ongoing. For a brief time two groups claiming to be D.C. CORE were staging pickets.[33]

Booker on Hobson’s firing

CORE leader James Farmer: 1963 ca.

CORE national leader James Farmer in 1963.

Booker explained that he thought Hobson was expelled for stepping on the toes of powerful people that funded moderate civil rights organizations.

“Well, under the leadership of Julius Hobson—the reason I keep stressing Hobson’s name is because Julius Hobson was the only black person in Washington at that time who had the courage to do anything public and take what was then considered a radical or revolutionary position about the position of black people in this city.”

“CORE advocated a school boycott and at that time after CORE advocated a school boycott, and after CORE attacked the hospital policies here, for whatever reasons Julius Hobson was dismissed from CORE by James Farmer, who at that time was the national director of CORE.”

“A lot of people who sit on the board of directors of these hospitals are the big named people [who] are also involved in getting finances to CORE.”

“Also when CORE advocated a school boycott here it really scared a lot of people. You see it really speaks to whether or not at that time James Farmer or people like him were really sincere and committed to carry this struggle as far as it could go…”

Formation of ACT

Gloria Richardson Dandridge returns to Cambridge: 1967

Gloria Richardson Dandridge in 1967.

“[Hobson] subsequently formed a group called ACT, A-C-T. I went along with Hobson pretty well with Charles Cassell…who was also very active in CORE and very active in the group called ACT that we formed.”[34]

Direct action advocates such as Gloria Richardson from Cambridge, Md.,; Rep. Adam Clayton Powell (D-N.Y.); Jessica Gray of Harlem, N.Y.; Stanley Branch of Chester, Pa.; and activist comedian Dick Gregory all attempted to form a national ACT organization along with Hobson. Malcolm X sent a representative to the initial meeting.[35][36]

“So it was really the people who were really acting in terms of being publicly active in taking radical positions, or committing radical or revolutionary acts,” Booker said.[37]

ACT never really took off on a national level although Hobson continued to lead the organization for several years locally.

Booker explains his viewpoint on why civil rights organizations generally faltered in the wake of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the belief of many that demonstrations were no longer necessary.

“I really don’t think the civil rights bill did, for all practical purposes, didn’t help out the masses of black people.”

“I think there was a lot of publicity, a lot of fanfare surrounding the civil rights bill, because the people who pushed the civil rights bill, which the civil rights bill was a liberal piece of legislation—they wanted to make the black people believe that this was going to cure all, when in fact the civil rights bill hasn’t solved anything.”

“I don’t think there was a long rang perspective in terms of this being a protracted struggle, in terms of this being an international struggle.”[38]

First leadership role

District Action for Racial Equality (DARE): 1963

The Washington Post August 17, 1963.

In 1963 while still working with Hobson within CORE, Booker joined with other activists to form the District Action for Racial Equality (DARE) as a direct action civil rights group focused on issues east of the Anacostia River.

Booker would become chair of the relatively small group.

DARE was one of the few District rights groups that supported Hobson’s call for a school boycott {along with the local SNCC chapter and Americans for Democratic Action).[39]

The group targeted the American Security and Trust Bank for picketing August 16, 1963 charging that only 73 out of more than 1,000 employees were black and only 11 of the black workers were in jobs above the blue collar level.[40]

The group also intervened in a planned eviction of eight people from a Barry Farms apartment in August 1963 after the District Welfare Department withheld assistance checks. DARE won a delay in the eviction until the mother, daughter, her sister and five children could find another place to live. DARE also expedited the payment of the withheld checks.[41]

The younger woman’s welfare was cut off because of an alleged violation of the “man in the house rule” where it was then presumed that if a man lived in the house he was taking care of the children and welfare payments were cut off. In this case the man was not the children’s father and under no legal obligation to support them.[42]

Booker and another DARE member worked on this case and brought four other Barry Farms residents to the meeting with the Welfare Department to discuss the case and related grievances.[43]

The “man in the house rule” was particularly onerous because it forced families to make a decision between splitting up to receive assistance or going without food and housing.

DARE also joined with SNCC to hold a “freedom rally” at the St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church on Shannon Place SE in Anacostia where the organizers told residents to hold rent strikes and public demonstrations to begin to address the issues plaguing the community.[44]

The rally was, in part, designed to build for a January 31, 1964 rally at the District Building the next day where, “Some 70 singing, marching students picketed the District Building…and demanded a ‘War on Poverty—Not on the Poor,’” according to the Evening Star.[45]

The protesters, organized by DARE, CORE and the Non-Violent Action Group (the SNCC affiliate at Howard), issued a flyer demanding “The city must have rent control and must create jobs by building hospitals, schools and low-cost housing that are needed.”[46]

In response to a District Commissioners order against discrimination in the sale or rental of housing, speakers promised to utilize this order in their fight against evictions by threatening to take black residents evicted from their homes and relocate them to white areas [47]

Drafted into the Army

Fort Jackson recruits at boot camp: 1965 ca.

Army recruits at boot camp at Fort Jackson, S.C. circa 1965.

Booker was drafted into the U.S. Army in January 1965 where he was initially stationed at Fort Jackson, S.C.[48]

Booker was immediately faced with white supremacy in the service.

“Racism was very apparent, and very rampant in Columbia, S.C. for black soldiers… black soldiers could only go certain places in Columbia, S.C.”[49]

Booker went on to recount what led to a fight between black and white soldiers in his barracks.

‘They always had fights between black and white troops…see most of your non-commissioned officers in the army are white sergeants and a large percentage of them hail from the south. They still had their same rigid attitudes about black people, whether or not you were a solider.”

“I was involved in a race fight in our barracks where we lived then. I remember specifically, in the building that we lived we had approximately forty-four whites and we only had five blacks. Four brothers slept downstairs and one slept upstairs. One night the brother that was going upstairs was getting ready to go to bed, and they told him they didn’t want anymore ‘niggas’ sleeping upstairs.”[50]

After a few months at Fort Jackson, Booker was sent to Fort Hood, Texas.

“I was sent to Fort Hood, Texas; which is not too far from Dallas, Texas, which is notoriously racist. For example, right outside of the base at Fort Hood, Texas black soldiers could not go into certain restaurants…even though the Defense Department is supposed to put off limits, the establishment [that] does not serve all people.”[51]

After Fort Hood, Booker spent 18 months at Fort Sill, Oklahoma where he continued his civil rights activism as an active duty soldier.

Civil rights activist in the service

Protest amusement park that barred black soldiers: 1966

Protest at the Lawton, Ok. amusement park in 1966.

“After being stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, I was sent to Fort Sill, Oklahoma at which time I joined a local branch of the NAACP at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. Because in the town, which is called Lawton, Oklahoma, there was an amusement park that was segregated, and they refused to admit black people to the park, including black soldiers.”

“On this basis, we used to picket and demonstrate at the park, the local branch of the NAACP which I was a member of and which I participated in actively.”[52]

Refused to go to Vietnam

When orders came for Booker’s unit to go to Vietnam, Booker refused.

“I was in a company that was predominately black. It was called an Ammo Company, and was scheduled to go to Vietnam. As a matter of fact, the company did go, but I didn’t go because I refused to go to Vietnam.”[53]

Booker explains at length his opposition to the Vietnam War was based on the concept of self-determination of nations and his view that the U.S. waged war against peoples of color in some excerpts from the 1970 interview.

“I think the whole question of Vietnam beside from being [a] military question [is] the question of self-determination…It’s not up to the United States to decide who’s going to rule Vietnam.”

“I think the whole war in Vietnam is a racial war…but I think if we look at the war In Vietnam we can see American troops—black troops in the United States Army in Vietnam constitute approximately 11 percent of the combat troops. They constitute at least 45 percent of the combat deaths.”

“The war is a race war. When the United States invaded Cambodia it was on the first picture that went out on UPI [United Press International], the picture of black soldiers with weapons on the Cambodians. Those Cambodians looked a lot like you and I…That’s a classic example where the white man is pitting black people against black people.”

“I think just on the subject of warfare if we look at the last two wars this country has fought, or been involved in on a major scale, they’ve been against non-white nations.”

“If we go back to the Korean War that’s still not settled, because they’ve only reached a truce at the 38th parallel. Once again the United States against an Asian country. Once again the United States psychologically partitioned Korea and called one part North Korea and one part South Korea.”

“Psychologically in the minds of people the United States has done the same thing in Vietnam. They call one part…North Vietnam and one part South Vietnam, because the United States found out that after France was defeated at the battle of Dienbienphu that Ho Chi Minh who [would] have been the popular elected president of Vietnam, the United States didn’t want that because they want to control Vietnam economically and militarily.”

“Okay we go back to the Japanese-American War. The United States had already won the war against Japan. It was not necessary to drop the atomic bomb on Japan. The reason the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Japan was to tell the non-white world that we cannot be beaten; we are invincible.”

Fort Hood 3 announce refusal to go to Vietnam: 1966

The Fort Hood 3 publicly refuse orders for Vietnam-1966.

Booker explains why he thinks he was not disciplined for his refusal to go to Vietnam with his company.”

“So at the time I was in the Army this anti-Vietnam sentiment just began to surface in the Army. I don’t think they really knew how to deal with it. Plus the situation of the fact that soldiers were sort of touchy, they didn’t want to, at least on that level, do anything to the black solider that would sort of incite other black soldiers to take the same action.”

“After I got out of the service then they began to take a hard line…position. Then soldiers, both black and white, began to express their views more in terms of being opposed to the war in Vietnam.”[54]

Booker was honorably discharged in January 1967.[55]

School Boycott

D.C. School Superintendent Carl Hansen: 1961

D.C. school superintendent Carl Hansen in 1961.

Booker immediately thrust himself headlong into civil rights work upon his return to civilian life; rejoining ACT and Julius Hobson with whom he had corresponded during his time in the service.[56]

Hobson had not given up on driving Superintendent Hansen out of office and improving public education in the District of Columbia.

The D.C. Board of Education implemented two policies that Hobson targeted–an optional-transfer zones system and a track system that Booker had identified earlier.

The first gave residents “the option of transferring from nearby schools that were overcrowded and predominantly Negro to more distant schools that were integrated or predominantly white,” while the second placed students “in tracks or curriculum levels according to the school’s assessment of each student’s ability to learn.”[57]

Ability to learn was based on IQ tests and the recommendations of school personnel and which turned out later to be highly biased against lower socio-economic groups and against black students in particular.

If a student was placed in the “general” or “basic” track, they had no access to college preparatory courses.[58]

When Hobson’s daughter was placed in a “basic” track, he filed a class action suit against Hansen.[59]

While the suit was pending, the D.C. School Board re-appointed Hansen to another three-year term.

Booker to organize students

Booker organizer for student school boycott: 1967

The March 26, 1967 Washington Free Press lists Booker as organizer for the students.

ACT decided on a school boycott—the tactic that Hobson had been forced to abandon three years earlier by the opposition of other black leaders. Hobson appointed Booker as the organizer for student participation in the boycott.[60]

ACT held a meeting at the Bethlehem Baptist Church in Anacostia March 29, 1967 where Hobson held a boycott planning session for about 35 people.

Booker, who had six years earlier blown the whistle on the track system, led 20 participants to a meeting about the future of Shaw Junior High School to publicize the call for a May 1st boycott of classes.

Booker and his compatriots disrupted the packed meeting of 275 people that Hansen attended, passing out flyers that called for the boycott protesting the re-appointment of Hansen.[61]

School administrators retaliated by threatening students with expulsion according to student leaders. One student was prevented by police from distributing flyers at Amidon Elementary School.[62]

William Richmond, an Anacostia student who headed a newly formed student high school group charged school officials used “serious intimidation” to stop activities related to the boycott. Richmond said that “some of us who haven’t gotten our recommendations for college yet are pretty worried.”[63]

Just prior to the boycott, Hansen circulated a memo to teachers and parents “hinting that grades might be lowered if they skipped classes,” according to the Washington Post.[64]

On the day of the boycott, ACT broadcast a four-hour “Freedom School” TV program for elementary school students and held a rally at the Sylvan Theater attended by several hundred people who later picketed at Eastern High School.

School system supplied figures showed about 1,200 absences higher than normal, concentrated in the Shaw area.  Hansen celebrated the relatively low number, but his merriment was short-lived.[65]

Hobson studies landmark D. C. school ruling: 1967

Hobson studies Judge Wright’s decision with attorney Bill Higgs.

On June 19, 1967 Judge J. Skelly Wright ruled in Hobson’s favor finding that “the Superintendent of Schools and the members of the Board of Education, in the operation of the public school system here, unconstitutionally deprive the District’s Negro and poor public school children of their right to equal educational opportunity with the District’s white and more affluent public school children.”[66]

The school board declined to appeal. Hansen quit as superintendent and attempted to appeal the decision, but the courts denied the appeal. Hobson had won his greatest victory with Booker at his side.[67][68][69]

Anti-Vietnam War

Reginald Booker urges end to war in Vietnam: 1967

Reginald Booker speaking at a July 15, 1967 antiwar rally in D.C.

Shortly after the school boycott ended, the Washington Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam (MOBE) held a rally on the grounds of the Washington Monument July 15, 1967 where Booker was one of the speakers.[70]

From the beginning of the antiwar movement, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and other relatively radical black organizations participated jointly in the antiwar movement with white activists.

As late as May 16, 1967, SNCC Chair Stokely Carmichael spoke at a local MOBE rally at Lincoln Memorial Temple where he told the half black, half white crowd that he was going to “build a war resistance movement or die trying.”[71]

Booker took the stage on July 15th and urged black women to have as many children as possible because “so many good black men are being killed Vietnam.”[72]

“Have them legitimately, illegitimately, any way you can have them,” he said referring to his belief in the war being genocide against black men.[73]

However, as black nationalism gained sway within the civil rights movement, more radical black groups began shunning the predominantly white anti-war movement and staging their own anti-Vietnam War protests.

Booker views on war and protests

Howard Students Confront Draft Director in Viet Protest: 1967

Howard students confront Selective Service chief Lewis Hershey in 1967.

Booker was among those who came to advocate this path and explained his thoughts in these excerpts from a 1970 interview.

“I personally think that black people should not be involved in coalitions [with] white people against the war. I think if white people in their own community want to support projects within the black community, that’s up to them. White people can take parallel action.”

“I do think it’s politically incorrect for black people not to take a position against the war. See what’s happening in the black community is that black people got caught up not working with the white man. So they don’t want to be opposed to the war because they would have been identified with working with the white man.”

“I was looking at a story in the National Observer where it said black college students…were becoming more practical. We can’t be concerned about the war ‘cause we’re still having problems at home.”

“In fact the war is based on race, and when in fact the war is designed to take off a certain segment of the unemployed black male population as well as the employed black population. This includes brothers who are coming out of college.”

“So black people got trapped, with not working with the white man they got trapped in not taking a political position against the war. I’ve heard many African brothers say man, no, we can’t work with the white man. You don’t have to worry about him, man. Let’s take a unified position against the war in the black community.”

“Now you remember when Dr. King came out against the war Roy Wilkins and these other so-called status Negroes attacked Dr. King’s position against the war. Roy Wilkins told Dr. King that [he should be] concerned about civil rights matters in the United States, and don’t worry about getting involved in international politics.”

“Dr. King could see, and he was moving along on another level of being publicly opposed to the war because of race. Because Dr. King was such a popular leader he could have attracted a mass following, not only among blacks, but among whites to oppose the war.”

“That’s one of the reasons I contend that he was killed; that he was moving toward that level. The white man saw the danger of him taking a public position against the war, knowing that if the black community being more attuned to what was going on in Asia would fall in line behind Dr King.”[74]

Antiwar actions

Panther Donald Cox at WUST: 1969

Black Panther Donald Cox speaks at the Veterans Day 1969 black antiwar rally at WUST radio station.

On April 26, 1968 Booker, a steering committee member of the Black United Front, spoke before a rally at Banneker Field by the Washington Black Anti-War Anti-Draft Union and told the crowd, “Let’s not die in Vietnam. Let’s die right here and take some these crackers with us—a drop of blood for a drop of blood, a life for a life.”

“The Viet Cong never built segregated schools or blew up churches in Birmingham, Ala., or called me a nigger. So the Viet Cong is not my enemy.”

“They’ll say a lot of this talk is revolution, but back in 1776, the white man had his revolution, and he didn’t say no prayers or sing no songs—he just took up arms,” Booker said to applause.[75][76]

The group numbering between 150-250 high school and college students then marched to the Selective Service headquarters on F Street NW.

On July 27th Booker, speaking for the Black United Front, once again took the stage with white antiwar activists—this time with Marcus Raskin of the Institute for Policy Studies and Michael Ambrose of the Federal Employees for a Democratic Society.

The event was billed as an anti-Humphrey “speak-out” in advance of the 1968 Democratic Convention and the antiwar protests that took place there.[77]Humphrey, the presumptive Democratic nominee and Richard Nixon, the presumptive Republican nominee had virtually identical positions on the Vietnam War.

Vietnam Moratoriums

Black students clash with police at White House: 1969

Black students from Coolidge H.S. clash with police near the White House during the first Moratorium.

During the Vietnam Moratorium of October 15, 1969 that involved upwards of two million people in antiwar events across the country, Booker helped organize a separate black-oriented event where he joined fellow black activists Rev. Joe Gibson and John Carter at Montgomery College in Maryland for a panel discussion on the war.[78]

He took a leading part in the D.C. chapter of the Black Coalition to End the War in Vietnam rally at WUST radio station where he spoke before 400 black people on Veterans Day 1969 just prior to the second Moratorium.[79]

Booker told the crowd that the Vietnam War is “designed to kill off unemployed black males in this country.”

“Black people are losing their lives in a senseless war in Vietnam when they should be losing their lives in Watts, Harlem, and 7th Street and Florida Avenue,” Booker continued alluding to fighting for rights at home.[80]

In May 1970 after President Richard Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia and the subsequent shooting deaths of four students at Kent State University by the Ohio National Guard, Booker joined Julius Hobson and Rev. Joe Gibson to urge demonstrators pouring into town to be peaceful.

They noted that the demonstrators would be predominantly white while the city was predominantly black with Hobson saying “…if you don’t want martial law, and if you don’t want black people to suffer, I would urge you to try to keep this thing nonviolent.”[81]

Niggers, Inc.

Booker confronts pro-freeway speaker: 1968

Booker, representing Niggers, Inc., confronts Colclough March 13, 1968.

Sometime in 1967, Booker formed a small group to organize black Americans in Anacostia called Niggers, Inc.

He was introduced at the July 1967 antiwar rally on the Monument grounds by Herb Kelsey, another black man and director of the Washington Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam, as being from Niggers, Inc.[82]

By January 1968, the group was mentioned in the press.[83]

When Booker first began testifying at public hearings on transportation that were often conducted by white liberal officials, he seemed to take pleasure in watching their reaction when the name of his organization was announced.

It is said that he once baited Adm. O. S. Colclough, an executive committee member of the Downtown Progress business group that favored freeways; challenging Colclough to say the name of his group at a March 13, 1968 meeting.[84]

It was clearly part of Booker’s “in your face” style of confrontation politics after he was discharged from the Army.

The group probably gained more publicity than it had when it was active in the late 1960s when in 1975 it was revealed by the Rockefeller Commission that the four-member group was one of the targets of the CIA’s domestic spying and disruption campaigns of Operation Merrimack and Operation Chaos.[85][86]

Emergency Committee on the Transportation Crisis

Abbott hits highway hypocrisy: 1970

Sammie Abbott and Reginald Booker at a 1970 freeway hearing.

In the spring of 1967, Booker, a clerk with the General Services Administration, met Sammie Abbott, a white former labor organizer, Communist Party candidate for Congress, anti-nuclear activist and at that time an anti-freeway, pro-build Metro activist who was a founding member of an organization called the Emergency Committee on the Transportation Crisis (ECTC).

Bob Levey and Jane Freundel Levey, who interviewed Booker in 2000, wrote that the two met at a tenants meeting called to protest conditions.

“One night in the late 1960s, Booker went to visit a friend who lived in an apartment complex along Eastern Avenue in Prince George’s County. The friend asked Booker to go with him to a tenants’ meeting, where residents were planning a protest over living conditions.”

“Booker spoke at the meeting about the need to organize and stay organized, to be vocal and stay vocal.”

“Afterward, a short, slight man approached Booker, He had a tuft of white hair and looked a bit like Mr. Magoo. The man said, ‘I liked the way you handled yourself,’ Booker recalls. ‘He invited me to his house to meet his family.”[87]

In an interview 30 years earlier, Booker remembered meeting Abbott under different circumstances.

“I got involved in the Emergency Committee [on the Transportation Crisis] in April of 1967…I remember that because I spoke at a rally on the Monument grounds in support of Muhammed Ali; that’s when I met Sam Abbott.”

“He explained to me what the Emergency Committee was and what they were trying to do. Subsequently I attended meetings off and on.”[88]

Booker’s memory in the 1970 interview doesn’t match up the dates. The rally he spoke at occurred in July 1967, but both men have passed on, making it difficult to know which version is correct.[89]

Regardless, the two would soon become a formidable team that drove public opposition to plans for freeways that would have crisscrossed the District of Columbia, dividing predominantly black neighborhoods and condemning several thousand black-owned homes for destruction.

Booker had been forced to move as a child during the massive urban renewal (often dubbed “Negro removal” by black activists} of southwest Washington that replaced black homes with what were then luxury low and high rises and federal government buildings.[90]

Booker recalled later, “Our family had already been uprooted by something we had no control over. I wasn’t going to let it happen to others.”[91]

ECTC origins

Build Rapid Rail Transit 1965

Sammie Abbott (far right) at a 1965 ECTC protest.

Freeway plans had been on the books since the mid 1950s, but didn’t gain widespread publicity until Abbott learned of plans to run the North Central Freeway through his home.

The ECTC was formed by Abbott of Takoma Park, Simon Cain of Lamont-Riggs Citizens’ Association, Thomas and Angela Rooney of Brookland Neighborhood Association and several others in 1965 spurred by the proposal to run the North Central Freeway through their neighborhoods.

The group became outraged when they realized that other proposed freeway alignments through white neighborhoods had been largely dropped from plans, leaving only planned highways that would run mainly through black communities.[92]

The 1959 freeway plans included two inner beltways through the city, and connecting freeways that crosscut the city as well as a new bridge crossing the Potomac to bring Virginia residents into the city.

Planned freeways had names like Inner Loop Freeway, Southwest Freeway, Southeast Freeway, North Central Freeway, Northeast Freeway, Potomac Freeway, Palisades Freeway, K Street Freeway, Industrial Freeway, West Leg, North Leg, East Leg and Center Leg and Three Sisters Bridge.[93][94]

The group, unlike many “not in my backyard” freeway opponents, opposed all planned freeways and didn’t seek to simply move the alignment out of their neighborhood.

Thomas Rooney, one of the founders, testified for ECTC at a National Capital Planning Commission hearing in 1967 attended by 750 people saying, “We will not accept any freeways. They are being used as instruments of racial injustice.”[95]

Instead of freeways, ECTC pushed to build the planned Washington Metro system.[96]

Cain, a black man, was the first chair of the group with Abbott serving as publicity director.

On the legal front, the group enlisted Peter S. Craig, a highly skilled attorney and a veteran of freeway battles, as their attorney.[97]

Despite its theme of racial injustice and the involvement of several black community leaders, the group could only mobilize a predominantly white, middle income crowd at public hearings and protests.[98]

Booker chair of ECTC

Anti-freeway activist Cassell speaks at Eastern High: 1968

Booker recruited Charles Cassell as a vice chair of ECTC.

Booker recalls that when he ascended to chair of the organization, it was to bring more militant leadership.

“In February 1968 I was elected chairman of the Emergency Committee on the Transportation Crisis. Because it was at that time it was decided the Emergency Committee needed a different type of leadership, because the past leadership was so-called moderate leadership.”

“At that time we proceeded—to put the Emergency Committee on the map, so to speak.”[99]

Booker wasted no time. In his first public statement as chair, Booker hailed a decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals to issue a February 9, 1968 temporary injunction against all D.C’s freeway plans, including acquisition of land.

“The Emergency Committee on the Transportation Crisis hails this decision and will redouble its efforts to unite the citizens in this fight against unwanted freeways that the highway lobby and its political stooges want to shove down our throats,” Booker said in a release.[100]

Gregory Borchardt wrote in his thesis on the D.C. civil rights movement that the ECTC then broadened its base.

“Although Abbott remained the publicity director and an essential creative force for ECTC, Booker and he worked together to develop the message and plan the campaigns.”

“ECTC also approached Marion Barry Jr. of Pride, Inc. and Charles I. Cassell of the newly formed Black United Front to serve as vice chairmen. With more prominent black leadership, ECTC began attracting a significant number of black citizens from the communities threatened by the freeways by the late 1960s.”[101]

Dynamics of race

Booker recalled that Abbott understood the dynamics of race.

“Sam had tremendous political insight and instinct. He could build a superior organization, and he understood human nature.”

“He didn’t want people to feel that he was a white man manipulating a black man. He would always defer to me. There was one public spokesman, and that was me.”[102]

Their opponents were business interests, the appointed mayor and city council and Congress through William Natcher (D-KY) chair of the House Subcommittee on District Affairs—virtually all the white political and economic interests.

The Leveys wrote about a 1967 hearing on the East Leg of the Inner Loop  in The End of Roads:

“Abbott was quick to note that the white establishment supported every inch of the highway plan. Among those who testified in favor at the 1967 hearing were the American Automobile Association, the Greater Washington Central Labor Council, the National Capital Transportation Agency, the Federal City Council, the Washington Trucking Association and the local chapter of the Automotive Trade Association.”

“Meanwhile, the cement, steel, rubber and concrete lobbies were solidly lined up behind the proposal.”

“Abbott dubbed all of the organizations ‘stooges.” He noted none of their witnesses had black skin.”[103]

White man’s road through black man’s home

White Man’s Road Through Black Man’s Home: 1968

ECTC poster designed by Abbott with the slogan popularized by Booker.

In January 1967, Abbott used the words “a white man’s road…through black men’s homes,” in testimony before the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) on the North Central Freeway.

Abbott may have used the words first, but Booker turned them into a slogan that galvanized black opposition to new highways and put the issue in stark racial terms. Abbott, a graphic arts designer, produced the dozens of posters and flyers that featured it.[104][105]

Booker was convinced that race stood behind the decisions in a city that was governed by a presidentially appointed mayor and council and overseen directly by Congress.

“The whole freeway situation was predicated on race, economics and militarism.”

“Race because the freeway was designed to always designed to come through the black community.”

“Economics because it was designed politically and economically to destroy black communities, especially black home owners, where most black people invest most of their money into buying a home.”

“Military-wise, the freeway nationally are designed to ring the big cities with highways and freeways which makes it easier to bring troops into the big cities.”[106]

Booker was no pacifist and as the battle over freeways came closer and closer to a critical juncture, Booker echoed the language of the Black Panther Party at a hearing December 3, 1968 at Hine Junior High School at 335 8th Street SE.

After charging that the current freeway plan was racist and that the planning commission and the city council were “thieves,” Booker drew applause from the crowd of about 100 when he said, “Black people should take up arms to defend their community.”[107]

Booker and Abbott led a fierce, determined, militant, uncompromising opposition to freeways and for public transportation over the next few years involving literally hundreds of public hearings, city council meetings, protests, community meetings, press conferences and other events to galvanize public opinion.

Some of the key turning point battles included a protest of increased bus fares that morphed into a demand for public takeover of the city’s private bus company; their attempt to reclaim homes condemned for the North Central Freeway in the Brookland neighborhood; a city council meeting that erupted into a near riot when the city council moved to approve freeways; and a series of demonstrations at the site of the proposed Three Sisters Bridge.

Bus boycott and public ownership

O. Roy Chalk buys transit company in the District: 1956

O. Roy Chalk purchases the Capital Transit Co. in 1956 and renames it D.C. Transit.

The bus boycott of 1968 was a pivotal moment in D.C. public transit history and Booker and the ECTC were at the center of the storm.

Up until this point in time, transit advocates had largely confined themselves to calling for more service and lower fares on the existing privately-run D.C. Transit Co. system.

However, there had been periodic calls for public subsidy or government takeover, including calls by the advisory D.C. Citizens Council, an offer to sell by owner O. Roy Chalk himself and a study being conducted by the transit authority that was then planning to build the rail system.[108][109][110][111]

It was during this bus fare campaign the ECTC demands evolved until the number one demand was calling for a takeover of the system by Metro.[112][113]

The impetus for the protest began in August 1968 when D.C. Transit applied for an emergency bus fare cash increase from 27 cents to 30 cents—an 11 percent increase and tokens from 25 cents to 30 cents—a 20 percent increase. The proposed increase was the second in less than a year.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Commission nearly gave the increase to the company without public hearings, but elected to hold the public forums to hear “new facts.”

The company actually made two proposals, the 30 cent fare if approved without hearings and a 35 cent cash, 30 cent token and one cent transfer fee if hearings were to take place.

The Chair of the Transit Commission, George A. Avery, said at a news conference August 15, 1968 that an increase was needed because of losses in revenue due to the disturbances following the killing of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a week-long suspension of night service carried out by the transit union following the shooting death of operator John Earl Talley.[114] The company also blamed the Poor People’s Campaign’s two-months of protests.[115]

Public Hearings

Rev. Joe Gibson opposes bus fare increase: 1970

Rev. Joe Gibson at a 1970 bus fare increase press event.

The ECTC came to the first hearing at 1815 N. Ft. Myer Drive in the Rosslyn, Va. area on August 25th loaded for bear.[116] The hearing had scarcely got underway when both Booker and Abbott were ejected by police.

As Avery opened the meeting, Booker jumped up and demanded to be heard immediately. Avery told him to wait until the appropriate time.

“You listen—this is the appropriate time to hear from us. This hearing is a sham…This three member commission is racist,” Booker shouted.

The three-member commission was made up of representatives from the District, Maryland and Virginia and all were white.[117]

Booker continued that  the meeting should be held in the District of Columbia at night instead of in Virginia during the day.

Avery tried to stop Booker from speaking, but Booker continued and Avery warned him, “If you don’t want to go to jail…go out peacefully.”

But Booker refused to stop speaking saying, “You can’t decide fares for the black people of D.C.”

As Booker was hustled out by a police officer, Abbott stood up and continued where Booker left off.

“We don’t see a black sitting up there and a majority of bus riders are black.”

Avery threatened to hold Abbott in contempt, but Abbott kept talking saying, “You made up your mind in advance to give O. Roy Chalk (D.C. Transit’s owner) a fare raise.”

Abbott was then taken out.[118]

Rev. Joe Gibson, another ECTC activist who was pastor of the Nash Methodist Church in Brookland, waited his turn to speak and told the commission, “It is time for the government…to give us a say in what happens in our life.”

The Washington Post reported:

“Rejecting the idea that D.C. Transit should get its requested fare rise to 30 cents, either in cash or by token, in order to get out of the red, Mr. Gibson suggested that the privately owned bus company go out of business and let others take over.”[119]

When a second hearing was scheduled for the District Building on September 4th, the ECTC moved into action calling for a complete overhaul of the transit commission.

A flyer issued by the group called on District residents to “speak out against highway robbery by O. Roy Chalk” and called for a 15 cent cash fare, an unlimited $1.50 weekly pass and free school fares in order to restore bus ridership.

The Washington Post wrote, “The Committee’s (ECTC’s) main purpose, however, is to reform the Transit Commission by adding Negro representation from Washington and making better service and lower fares a principal aim of the agency, Abbott said.”[120]

Reginald Booker at an ECTC meeting: 1969 ca.

Reginald Booker at an ECTC meeting circa 1969.

When Booker stood and took the microphone at the hearing he said, “I’m going to be the first black person to lead the people on the bus and refuse to pay the fare.”

“I believe in a lot of action, I believe in resistance, and I believe in revolt and I believe in revolution,” he added speaking to the crowd of 350 that crowded the council chambers.

When Avery appeared to be laughing during Booker’s testimony, Booker said, “He’s laughing…We’ll deal with him on the street.”

Gibson added that he would lead a boycott and “we shall guarantee them a loss such as they have never seen before.”[121]

Booker’s and Gibson’s remarks were coupled with testimony that applauded the possibility of bankruptcy for the company, holding that would leave the door open for public takeover.[122]

Others echoed the ECTC’s militant testimony complaining of poor service, dirty buses and a lack of air-conditioning.[123]

As if Chalk could see the writing on the wall, D.C. Transit’s parent company Trans Caribbean Airways, divested itself of the company—making it an independent firm on September 5, 1968. Chalk’s predecessor, Louis Wolfson, made the same move with the old Capital Transit Company prior to be forced by Congress to sell the transit company.[124]

At the third and final hearing, D.C. Transit’s Harvey M. Spear testified that “as a private enterprise, we can’t be expected to carry the sociological and political obligations of the government.”

He further denounced the “shocking…threats and blackmail” of speakers at the previous hearings, cited financial figures on the company’s losses and urged quick approval of the fare increase.[125]

Jack Eisen, the Post’s transit beat reporter, wrote an analysis after the hearings that he saw a divide widening between the company and the transit commission on one hand and the general public on the other. He wrote, in part:

“If D.C. Transit is losing money, as its uncontested figures show, that’s plain tough luck, the refrain ran; let it continue to lose until it is forced out of business and a public authority takes over to run the buses as a public service.”

“There is plenty of respectable support for the idea that buses should be publicly owned  and subsidized to keep fares low. Some even hold that buses should be free.”

“But a wide gulf separates this theory from reality. There is nothing in sight to suggest that Congress will provide money for subsidies. Without them even a public bus line would have to raise fares.”

Congress rejected public takeover

Brookland operators on first day of strike: 1955

Congress rejected a public takeover of D.C. buses during the 2-month 1955 strike. Shown here is Brookland Division on the first day of the walkout..

Congress had previously rejected public ownership during the two-month 1955 strike by the transit union, instead revoking Louis Wolfson’s franchise and requiring a sale where Chalk ended up buying the company.[126][127]

Eisen pointed to one flaw in the system—the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Commission.

“It is squeezed…by the law under which it operates, which says it must consider traffic, patronage, costs and profits, but omits any mention of public opinion.”[128]

Avery, as chair of the commission, sought relief and wrote a letter to Mayor Walter Washington and city council chair John Hechinger appealing for a public subsidy to forestall fare increases.

He wrote that when rising costs push fares “to levels which are inconsistent with sound public policy then a portion of operating the system should be assumed by the community at large.”[129]

A fare increase was granted by the commission October 29, 1968 on a temporary basis.

The approved increase lowered slightly D.C. Transit’s request—30 cent cash fare, but kept a discount for tokens at $1.05 for four tokens. Maryland, interstate, and special route fares were also increased.

The commission approved the increases on a “no-profit” basis because of a pending decision on the so-called Bebchick suits. Bebchick, the attorney for a number of civic groups, sued the commission for approving prior fare increases that provided D.C. Transit with excessive profits. The appeals court ruled in Bebchick’s favor, but a Supreme Court appeal was pending and put the decision on excess profits on hold.[130][131]

Abbott denounced the commission for acting in “obscene haste” on the increase and pointed out that if Chalk dropped his appeal in Bebchick suit and re-paid excess profits, the fare increase could have been avoided.[132]

Bus boycott and demand for public takeover

Riders let buses go by; wait for alternative rides: 1968

Bus riders wait for private cars to pick them up during the 1968 bus boycott.

The ECTC planned their boycott for December 2nd and for the first time, the demand for public ownership of the bus system was front and center.

Booker told a boycott meeting of about 65 people at Nash United Methodist Church that the demand is for public ownership of the transit system “for the riding public and not for profit.”

Booker went on to say that “black people are going to determine their own destiny in terms of D.C. Transit by any means necessary. It has been the extreme people, the militant people of the world who have made the gains.”

The question of who will control the bus system—a private company or public ownership, “rests with we the people, said Booker. “In warfare, you either win or you lose, you either kill or be killed.”[133]

Like a successful 1966 boycott led by Marion Barry and SNCC in D.C. that halted a fare increase, the boycott centered on the H Street-Benning Road NE corridor where alternative transportation would be provided, but the call was also for a city-wide boycott.[134][135][136]

The slogan for the week of the transit action was “Protest the spending of hundreds of millions of dollars for unwanted freeways for the few—and nothing for mass transit for the many.”

The boycott slogan itself was a simple, “Erase Chalk”—a demand to end the private ownership by O. Roy Chalk.

The other demands were codified as:

  1. Free bus rides for all school children “the same way they do in suburbia.”
  2. Abolition of the scrip system because it forces poor people to take long rides to redeem the scrip.
  3. Return to a $1.50 weekly pass with unlimited rides.
  4. Abolition of the Washington Metropolitan Transit Commission because it is racist with no black members.

Day of the boycott

Alternate transportation during D.C. bus boycott: 1968

An auto with the “hitchhikers thumb” in the windshield carries bus boycotters along H Street NE.

On the day of the boycott, only 40 of about 200 private vehicles that were scheduled to provide alternative service were available in the Benning corridor—cutting the boycott’s effectiveness as riders waited for private vehicles, but ultimately had to give up and take the bus.[137][138]

Rev. Gibson, the ECTC member who chaired the boycott committee, said the during the afternoon of the boycott, “I know we made a dent in him (O. Roy Chalk).”[139]

Most areas were unaffected by the boycott but the bus company conceded that “transit drivers who work in the Benning Road area every day report that the load was lighter,” according to Thomas Trimmer, the company’s transportation director.[140]

However, the main victory in the effort was solidifying around the major demand—public takeover of the private bus company.

In December 1968, fares were raised again—the third time in a year.[141]

By March 1970, transit riders were plagued with deteriorating service due to mechanical problems. More than 100 were regularly out of service on any given day–sometimes rising to as high as 125–resulting in scheduled buses being cut. Only 80 buses could be crippled on any given day to avoid cutting bus trips.[142]

1970 refusal to pay full fare

Hobson arrested in bus fare increase protest: 1970

Julius Hobson is arrested for refusing to pay the full bus fare in 1970.

On July 11, 1970, another fare protest took place as the commission raised fares from 32 cents to 40 cents. This time Edell Lydia (later Kwame Afoh) chaired a group opposed to the hike and campaigned to have riders pay only 25 cents of the 40 cent fare.

At least 16 prominent supporters of the fare protest were arrested including Julius Hobson, Marion Barry, Rev. Joe Gibson and Sam Abbott.

The coalition estimated its more than half of the bus riders on the H Street-Benning Road corridor paid less than the full fare, although these figures were disputed by the company.[143]

Hundreds march against bus fare increase: 1970

Part of the crowd that marched to the Capitol during the 1970 bus fare protests.

Days later on July 14th, Rev. Walter Fauntroy; Hobson, Booker; and James Coates, chair of the D.C. Board of Education; led a march of more than 250 people without a permit from Lincoln Park to the east gate of the U.S. capitol where more than 500 rallied, protesting the fare increase and calling for public takeover.[144]

The Black United Front and others sued the transit commission for fare increase charging the commission granted excess profits to D.C. Transit in a suit similar to Bebchick’s previous legal efforts.

At the time, the U.S. Senate had approved a takeover bill and the House was considering legislation.[145]

By October 14, 1972, the U.S. House of Representatives reversed itself and approved a Senate measure to authorize the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to take over the four private bus companies operating in the Washington area.[146]

Metro takes over the buses

 President Richard M. Nixon signed the bill days later–ending 110 years of private ownership of transit in the city. On January 14, 1973 Metro acquired the D.C. Transit and the former WV&M system in Arlington.[147] The next month on February 4th, Metro took over the former AB&W garages in Alexandria and Arlington and the former WMA garage on Southern Avenue in Maryland.[148]

As a footnote, the so-called Bebchick suits were ultimately successful producing an award worth over $8 million and vindicating the ECTC’s claims of the transit commission permitting excess profits for the D.C. Transit system.[149]

The public takeover was a resounding victory for Booker and the ECTC that adopted the demand for public takeover in the course of the fight over the 1968 fare increase.

While it had been raised in earlier years by others, when the ECTC adopted it, it galvanized public transit advocates outside their own circle around a simple and easily understood demand.

The ECTC ultimately rejected other possible paths such as lobbying for a congressional subsidy, even though precedent had been set through a subsidy for school children’s fares[150] and abandoned their previous demands of providing more power to  the Washington Area Transit Commission and diversifying its membership. In doing so, they chose the path that produced the greatest opportunity for public input.

Booker and the ECTC can be given credit for being the spearhead responsible for the creation of the region-wide publicly-owned, non-profit Metrobus system.

North Central and Brookland homes

Transit Committee Rallies to Renovate Homes: 1969

Reginald Booker speaks from the porch of a Brookland home he intends to reclaim.

Perhaps their most successful protest in terms of direct results was an attempt to reclaim 69 homes in the Brookland section of the city in 1969 that had been condemned for the North Central Freeway, construction of which had been blocked for a year by a court injunction.[151]

In a letter to Mayor Walter E. Washington, Booker wrote:

“We can only conclude, after 18 months, that the city will not meet its responsibility to the community where these 69 homes lie in shameful and wasteful deterioration. We can no longer permit the irresponsible decay of this attractive residential community…”

“Therefore, citizens will address this urgent issue by removing the boarding from these decaying residences on June 21, 1969.”[152]

On the appointed day, about 100 people mobilized by ECTC showed up in front of a block of houses on 10th and Franklin Street NE.

Booker gave a speech from the porch of a vandalized house accusing the District government of a “brazen attempt to break up black peoples’ political power because black home ownership represents black political power in this community.”

Reginald Booker Placed Under Arrest at Brookland Home: 1969

Booker is led out of the Brookland home and arrested by D.C. police.

Following his speech, Booker took a crowbar and pried off the plywood in front of television cameras and news photographers. A number of people entered the home with Booker and attempted to begin rehabilitation of the home. They were followed by D.C. police who arrested Booker and four others for illegal entry.

Abbott was also later arrested as he tried to enter the paddy wagon to join the others.[153]

The stark images created intense political pressure on the city and a few days later Mayor Washington announced the city would rehabilitate the houses and invited ECTC to help find occupants.

ECTC had won an immediate battle, but also part of a larger war. The return of the homes to the community slashed the throat of the North Central Freeway, though it would take a bit longer for It to finally die.

Their victory, however, was followed immediately by another crisis.

D.C. Council approves freeways

Stop the North Central Freeway 1969 # 1

Protesters disrupt the Aug. 9, 1968 city council meeting where chair Gilbert Hahn intends to take a vote supporting the planned freeways. Booker is standing, third from left.

Rep. William Natcher (D-Ky.), House Appropriations Committee chair withheld funds to build the subway and demanded that construction begin on the Three Sisters Bridge before he would release the rail money. Natcher did this despite a court order to the contrary and a vote of the appointed D.C. Council to abandon the project.

The D.C. City Council reversed itself and voted on August 9, 1969 to comply with the Federal Highway Act of 1968, giving in to Natcher and effectively approving the Three Sisters Bridge, the North Central Freeway and other freeway portions in order to obtain Metrorail funding.[154]

The Leveys say that the action had the approval of the Nixon Administration and wrote:

“The [city] council meeting that night was described as a ‘riot’ by the Evening Star, a ‘melee’ by the Washington Post. Fistfights broke out. Chairs were thrown. An ashtray whizzed past the ear of Council Chairman Gilbert Hahn Jr. Fourteen people were arrested.”[155] Hahn claimed the ashtray hit him.[156]

Clash with police in council chambers: 1969

A melee erupts as Chair Gilbert Hahn orders the room cleared prior to approving the freeways.

Hahn had begun the meeting, but was quickly shouted down by the crowd that demanded their speakers be heard as was customary at the beginning of council meetings. After numerous attempts to regain control, Hahn ordered the room cleared of everyone except council members, staff and security.

Hahn then conducted the vote which went 6-2 to comply with Natcher’s demands.[157]

Booker, then living on the 1900 block of Savannah Street SE, and Dennis Livingston, of D.C. Newsreel, were charged with felony assault for their tussle with guards and police while the others were charged with disorderly conduct.,[158][159][160]

In the aftermath of the hearing the ECTC prepared for the next stage of battle by first sharpening their attack and raising the level of vitriol directed against city officials.

Borchardt wrote in his thesis:

“They criticized the city’s leaders for selling out District residents and giving in to the blackmail and empty promises of ‘Congressional overlords.’ ‘The D.C. ‘Government’ now stands naked as a sham,’ an ECTC flyer alleged.”[161]

Booker later wrote in an ECTC flyer:

‘Since last June when ECTC started to publish the sins of the city’s colonial government–pointing out how our puppet mayor and puppet city council were helping to run White men’s roads through Black men’s homes – the spiteful and petty little men who govern this great city of ours have lodged some 33 criminal charges against us.”[162]

Climax at 3 Sisters Bridge

Smash the 3-Sisters Bridge: 1969

A poster calls for a rally to ‘smash’ the 3-Sisters Bridge.

The ECTC campaign against freeways would climax in a seemingly unlikely location—the proposed Three Sisters Bridge connecting Arlington with Georgetown just north of the existing Key Bridge.

Much of Booker’s and ECTC fire had been directed at planned roads through black neighborhoods and the Three Sisters Bridge was not located in any residential neighborhood and in a nearly lily-white, wealthy area of town.

Besides their general opposition to freeways, stopping the bridge meant stopping the North Leg that continued to remain in freeway plans despite the city’s verbal opposition to that alignment.

Booker consistently pointed out that the planned North Leg was to connect with the planned bridge and run through the U Street-Florida Avenue corridor—the historic Black Broadway and an overwhelming black neighborhood at that time. Booker viewed the bridge as the key to halting freeway construction.[163]

At a September 13, 1969 press conference Booker declared “war” on the District government and stated that “every tactic in the book” would be used to block the building of the freeway along U Street – T Street corridor.

“Any struggle up here will be fought on the issue of black nationalism,” he continued.[164]

3 Sisters Bridge confrontations

Protesters delay work on 3 Sisters Bridge: 1969

Students stage a sit-in at the Three Sisters Bridge site.

Students of the Vietnam War era at George Washington, American and Georgetown universities were attracted to Booker and Abbott’s militant opposition to freeways and strident attacks on white supremacy and formed a group D.C. Student Committee on the Transportation Crisis (DCSCTC).

The student group was strongly influenced by the more radical elements of the recently fractured Students for Democratic Society and the Yippies.[165]

As the beginning of construction of the Three Sisters Bridge loomed, students occupied the three islands that comprised the “Sisters.”

Battle of the Three Sisters Bridge: 1969

A bloodied student protester is arrested at the bridge site by police.

Beginning on October 10, 1969 and continuing for the next two months, the student group and adults opposed to bridge staged rallies, civil disobedience, marches and pickets that sometimes briefly halted the construction work.

Some of the protests used civil disobedience where several hundred were arrested. A few protests erupted into clashes with police.

Booker led perhaps the largest demonstration against the bridge when he headed up a 75-car caravan “Stop the Freeway Parade” through the city that featured baton-twirling youths and that culminated in a rally of about 500 people at the bridge site October 19th.[166]

At another rally on the campus of George Washington University on October 22nd, Booker told the crowd of 200 that students could create “conditions that make it impossible” to build the bridge.

“The bridge is going to be smashed,” Booker said in prophetic words–though probably not in the way he envisioned.[167]

Abbott echoed Booker’s use of Black Panther slogans during a speech to a crowd of 500 people at Georgetown University November 16, 1969—the day after a large anti-Vietnam War march.

By any means necessary

Abbott blasts D.C. freeway construction: 1967

Sammie Abbott at a 1967 freeway hearing.

The Washington Post wrote,

“Sammie Abbott, publicity chairman of the anti-freeway Emergency Committee on the Transportation Crisis, said “any means necessary” should be used to stop construction of the bridge, but he added that he would draw the line at any action that would tend to “split the black and white communities.”[168]

After the rally, several hundred students blocked traffic access to Key Bridge, at times clashing with police in the streets of Georgetown.

Freeway opponents conducted their own referendum on the bridge when the D.C. Board of Elections refused to place the question on the ballot by placing citizens at most polling places in the city with paper “yes” or “no” ballots that was conducted at the same time as the city’s school board election.

The ECTC demonstrated the success of their tactics in turning public opinion against the bridge when The Washington Post reported that with 47 precincts counted, 11,945 were against the Three Sisters Bridge while 5,459 favored it.[169]

While Booker and the ECTC were using confrontation politics to turn public opinion against freeways, Craig was fighting on the legal front. Borchardt said in his thesis:

“Peter Craig…manipulated the court system to continually thwart the highway lobby’s efforts to commence construction of the highway system.”

“By making powerful allies, employing creative legal arguments, and consistently winning judicial injunctions to stop highway construction, Craig led a parallel anti-freeway crusade in the courtroom.”[170]

The End of the Bridge

Call for 3-Sisters Bridge celebration: 1971

Celebration of another court victory on the 3-Sisters Bridge in 1971.

On August 3, 1970 Judge Sirica announced his decision, holding that…

“The court finds that the present design of the bridge is so substantially different from that proposed in 1964 that the public should be given an opportunity to present their views on the project as presently planned.”

“Last but not least, the cost of the present project is estimated at $20 million as compared with an estimate of $6 million in 1964.”

Sirica also ruled that no Federal-aid highway funds could be used for preliminary construction work on the bridge until tests took place to determine whether the design was structurally sound.[171]

With Natcher holding on to subway construction funds and the bridge on judicial hold, political pressure grew on Congress to release the subway funds so that at least one transportation project could move forward in the city.

In December 1971, the House overrode Natcher and voted to release the District of Columbia ‘s Metro construction funds.

Subsequent legislation allowed states to spend urban interstate funds on mass transit system. The District of Columbia was one of the first jurisdictions to take advantage of the new laws, canceling the North Central Freeway and Three Sisters Bridge and increasing funding for the planned Washington Metro system.[172]

In June 1972 Booker’s prophesy came true when Hurricane Agnes swept away the piers that had been constructed for the Three Sisters Bridge, leaving the three small islands intact, but no trace of the planned bridge.[173]

While courtroom battles, occasional protests and lobbying would continue until 1977, the freeway and bridge plans were effectively dead. Metrorail opened its first segment in 1976, completing the system in 2004 with an additional  line in Virginia where the first segment opened in 2014.

Victory

Freeway opponents picket mayor’s home: 1968

Picketing appointed Mayor Walter Washington’s home in 1968.

Perhaps even more so than the public acquisition of the private bus companies, it was an almost unbelievable victory spearheaded by the tireless Booker, Abbott, the rest of the ECTC and Craig on shoestring budgets against adversaries where there was no local elected government or congressional representation to put pressure on.

Booker reflected back in his interview with the Leveys that he became involved back in 1967 as a moral issue and that meticulous preparation for each phase in the battle and unyielding resolve were keys to victory.

“I couldn’t imagine why District officials would allow this. I had a responsibility even as one person to oppose it. What motivated me was that it was a moral question of right and wrong.”

The Leveys said Booker told them that, “to a large degree, the protesters were victorious because they planned carefully.”

The Leveys wrote, “From 1968 to 1972, ECTC conducted more than 75 street protests. It was able to draw on the ranks of anti-Vietnam demonstrators (many of them local college students ) for manpower.”

“As a result, almost no ECTC demonstration was smaller than 50 persons, and all were carefully biracial. That assured television and newspaper coverage and suggested a relentless determination that Booker believes may have worn opponents down.”[174]

Construction workers task force

Booker: hiring plan an ‘insult’ to the black community: 1970

Booker speaks at the Labor Department denouncing the “Washington Plan.”

Booker scaled back his work with ECTC in early 1970, taking on the role of chair of the Washington Area Construction Industry Task Force, although he continued to serve as chair of ECTC.[175]

The Task Force, one of many organized by the Urban League to confront discrimination in the workplace, seemed like an unlikely fit for Booker.

Booker, generally seen as a firebrand within the black community, was joining with more conservative members of the task force that included civil rights organizations such as the NAACP and the Urban League, minority contractors, black business organizations and individuals.[176]

The task force sought to dramatically increase the number of black people working in the construction trades. Since the training and hiring on commercial and government construction was done primarily through the craft unions, this meant taking on organized labor as well.

The existing task force members must have thought that the confrontational tactics of ECTC may work for them as well.

Protest at Labor Department

Booker had his “coming out” when he staged a demonstration in front of the Labor Department on Constitution Ave. May 1, 1970 demanding 70-80 percent black workers on the Metro subway construction project. He was joined by his ECTC partner Abbott.

Booker pointed out to news reporters that 70 percent of the District’s population was black at that time while more than 40 people circled in front of the building.

The Labor Department was then in the process of developing a “Washington Plan” for minority hiring on all federally funded construction projects in the area.

The Department had earlier held hearings on developing the Washington Plan that Booker called a “sham,” because the task force was not allowed to question the witnesses.

Booker said the Labor Department had refused to take their demands seriously and promised to be back.

“This is just the beginning. Next time we’ll be back with 500 people…we want you to know we’re serious,” Booker told Labor Department officials during the demonstration.[177]

When the Washington Plan was announced, it set quotas of between 25 and 40 percent minority hiring for 11 skilled construction trades before the end of 1974 and lifted a freeze on Metro construction that had been in place because of the lack of black and other workers of color.[178]

Devoid of promise

Booker denounces Labor Department hiring plan: 1970

Plan is “devoid of promise.”

Booker immediately denounced the plan as “devoid of promise” and “wholly unacceptable” at a June 4, 1970 press conference at the Labor Department.

Specifically, the task force charged that the plan was diluted by including the predominantly white suburbs of Virginia and Maryland,

“It serves little purpose to offer an unemployed but eligible black construction worker residing in D.C. a job in Reston, Va. or some other remote construction site when in his own city the overwhelming majority of jobs will continue to go to whites,” the task force wrote in a letter to Secretary of Labor George P. Schultz.

The task force also blasted the Labor Department for excluding a number of crafts from the plan, including carpenters and operating engineers; for low quotas on unions like the sheet metal workers, for “discrimination committed over the years;” for “escape clauses” that make the plan unenforceable; and for not addressing the “restrictive” bonding and insurance requirements for federal contracts that are out of reach for most minority contractors.[179]

Booker explained in a 1970 interview that the task force was seeking an immediate overhaul of the whole union-sponsored apprenticeship program in order to rectify past and current discrimination.

Scrap apprenticeship programs

“We’re saying there’s no such thing as a minority hiring plan because politically we’re the majority of population numerically and otherwise [in the District of Columbia].“So we say our plan revolves around three things.”

“Number one, that we say that the government should scrap all apprenticeship programs and have specifically on the job training. Because if you have an unskilled black worker on the street, take him off the street and put him on a project and train him. The same way white immigrants got off ships and came here with no skills and now they’re owning and controlling construction industries.”

“Our plan also says that the jobs in Washington should be given out on the basis of percentage of blacks in the population; starting on every craft level. I mean the electricians, pipe fitters, steam fitters, etc., etc. This is the heart of our plan.”

“Now the government’s plan that they issued—we spoke to blacks having 80 to 90 percent of all the jobs on all construction projects with private or federal construction. The government’s plan speaks of 30 to 40 percent on a graduated scale over the years.”

“Strangely enough the government’s plan rewards the unions and the crafts that have practiced the most discrimination, with the least number of blacks being employed. They get to employ the least number of blacks.”

“On a legal level, we’re at the point of deciding whether or not to file suit against the federal government, which will probably happen in weeks to come, because even the government, as far as we can ascertain, has not lived up to its own plan. You can go now on the five biggest federal projects and they haven’t lived up to their plan.”[180]

Marxism and the black-white divide

Karl-Marx

Karl Marx circa 1870.

Booker, having studied Marx and incorporating a lot of Marxism in his outlook, felt that–contrary to Marxist beliefs–that black and white workers could never unite.

He viewed Marx as writing from and about Europe where there were not significant numbers of black workers at that time and thus he did not take into account contradictions between black and white workers.

“There cannot be coalitions between blacks and whites, because they have not solved the question of race,” Booker said.

“That’s why there can be no coming together of black and white workers because when everybody refers to Marx—when Marx wrote his dissertations on capitalism, he wrote it from a vantage point, at the time he wrote it in England, of looking at working class whites, both employed and unemployed.”

“He doesn’t speak to the issue of black workers—of black and white workers united. He just says workers unite. That ain’t gonna unite black and white workers.”

“It really boils down to the question of whether this is a struggle of race along class lines, as opposed to blacks and whites against all blacks and whites who are exploiting; or whether it’s a race struggle; black against white.”

“…during the civil rights movement I was involved with working with white workers, and they don’t see their plight. They don’t see themselves cooperating with blacks. White workers have been told that the black man is the cause of the fact that you don’t have a job; they’re the cause of all your ills..”

“I think that white people can educate white workers…It’s probably possible in their own community overall…could be educated about their situation in terms of the job, but they’re not going to be educated to the extent that it overcomes their racism. That’s what prevents uniting black and white workers.”[181]

Black and white workers can’t unite

White workers bar blacks from testifying: 1969

In 1969, Chicago white craft union workers bar blacks from testifying at a federal hearing.

Booker went further in response to an interview question and ruled out the possibility that black and white workers could ever unite.

“I’m saying under no circumstances will white workers ever see their interest with black workers, because of the fact at this particular time in this country the white workers are being organized by the government to move against the black community.”

“See this is why, for example, you had these hard hat marches [by construction workers in New York and elsewhere in favor of the Vietnam War]. This is the government’s fascist army and this Honor America Day is just an organizing tool for the federal government, to organize themselves against the black community. See the white workers interest, he feels himself being directly threatened by the black working man.”[182]

Community hearing

Community hearing told of construction job bias: 1970

Booker organized a community hearing to gain backing for sweeping changes.

Before the Labor Department released its “Washington Plan,” Booker pulled together a May 18, 1970 community hearing on discrimination in the construction industry that took testimony from groups and individuals on discrimination and solutions for the problem of black people getting skilled jobs in the industry.

Booker charged that unemployment among black laborers was “astronomical” while white laborers were brought in from as far as West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Construction Trades, Inc. chief Cordell Shelton told the group that bonding procedures effectively bar minority contractors, that existing training programs are useless and none employ blacks people as trainers or instructors. The panel then made its recommendations to the Labor Department.[183]

Booker followed up with another press conference held June 25, 1970 where he again attempted to ramp up the pressure on the federal government.

“The only thing the federal government understands is force and violence” and that soon “physical action” will be taken against construction projects that don’t meet task force goals.[184]

In November 1970 Booker was back in the news demanding that the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority revise its bonding and insurance requirements after a black trucking company failed to get an award despite being the low bidder. Metro agreed to study the requirements, but made no other commitment.[185]

The task force blasted President Richard Nixon’s suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act that guaranteed a “prevailing wage”—which at that time meant a union wage—on federal construction projects.

Booker said the suspension was a “racist blow” since most black construction workers were excluded from unions and would bear the brunt of the lower wages as non-union workers.[186]

But after a year Booker left the task force for another Urban League initiated task force–perhaps his tactics proving too confrontational for the coalition’s members.

Booker proved correct

Booker proved correct in his criticism of federal and Metro hiring plans.

The Washington Post reported in November 1975, a year after the Washington Plan hiring goals were to have been met, that black skilled workers still composed a small percentage of the construction crafts.

They ranged from 8.6 percent of elevator constructors to a high of 38.9 percent of operating engineers. However, even those figures are misleading because most minority workers were concentrated among trainees and apprentices and not among the highest paid journeymen.[187]

It didn’t get much better 10 years after the Washington Plan was put into effect. None of the craft unions met hiring goals. Only an average of 10 percent of all journeymen across all construction craft unions were from a minority group.

As Booker predicted, the federal government did not enforce the plan. The District’s mayor’s office found that more than 60 percent of all reviewed building sites in the city did not meet hiring guidelines, but only two of 1,000 contractors investigated on site were barred from doing federally assisted construction which was the ultimate penalty for non-compliance.[188]

GUARD

HUD employees protest white supremacy: 1970

Black employees at HUD begin a series of protests Oct. 9, 1970.

While heading the construction task force, Booker became involved with another task force advocating for black workers in October 1970 when he helped lead protests of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) workers against discrimination within the agency.

The Government Employees United Against Racial Discrimination (GUARD) task force at the agency, HUD Employees Task Force Against Racism, called for an end to “institutional racism” and developed three demands:

  • Upgrade employees in the comptrollers division
  • Training at government expense
  • Transfer of all comptroller division supervisors who were on duty in April 1970 when the group first charged discrimination.

The group found Secretary of HUD George Romney (former presidential candidate, former governor of Michigan, father of presidential candidate and current Utah U.S. Senator Mitt Romney) unresponsive to demands and called a protest October 9, 1970.

Led by Booker, Leonard Ball (an Urban League employee assigned to GUARD), and HUD task force leader Ronald Wallace, GUARD called a sit in outside of Romney’s office where 300 workers waited seven hours to present their demands to Romney.[189]

Confrontation with Romney

George Romney 1964 RNC 02746u (cropped1)

George Romney in 1964.

When Romney emerged from his office and saw Wallace, he told him “Get back to work” and headed for the elevator.

When the elevator didn’t immediately arrive, Romney sprinted down 10 flights of stairs with the 300 employees following behind attempting to present their demands along with a petition that 600 workers had signed.

While Romney was descending the stairs, the three GUARD representatives made repeated attempts to give Romney their written demands, but Romney refused to take them.

When Romney got to his waiting limo, Ball asked him when he was going to respond to the group’s previous letter. Romney called out “None of your business.”

Once again Ball tried to shove the petition and demand letter into Romney’s hands. Instead of taking the papers, Romney shoved Ball away from the car and shouted, “Get away from the car,” slamming the door after which his driver put his foot to the floor to escape the crowd spilling out of the building.[190][191]

Romney’s information office later denied reporters’ accounts saying that “Romney said he got on the elevator and they wouldn’t let the doors close. He fought his way out and went down the stairs. They followed him…shouting obscenities.”

“He got in the car and this man Ball wouldn’t let him close the door…and he was in real trouble. Romney was holding this man out and trying to get the door shut.”[192]

The group had earlier staged a rally inside the HUD conference room attended by about 350 workers where Booker took the microphone usually used by Romney and blasted HUD discrimination.

“Here comes someone from West Virginia with a 9th grade education, wearing cheap clothes, and they get a higher grade job. Then here comes a black person, high school education, all dressed up in mod clothes, the latest styles, and they get a grade 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5—the nigger grades…” Booker said.

About 443 of the employees in the 810 employee comptroller’s division were black—but most were concentrated in lower pay grades.[193]

Hitting at “token” black people in the agency, Booker continued:

“He’s got a bush, and he looks good and he tells you to cool it and don’t rebel because he knows how you feel.”

“How in the hell can he tell you how it feels when he’s got a GS-18 and he’s eating in the executive cafeteria while you’re downstairs eating hotdogs.”

Protests continue

Protests of racism continue at HUD: 1970

Protests against white supremacist practices at HUD continued into the spring of 1971.

Protests continued October 12th when about 200 workers staged a sit-in outside the personnel office where they demanded to see their records. By the end of the day, most were able to review their records.[194][195]

Meanwhile, HUD employee protest leaders Ron Wallace and Anne Hagar set up a meeting the same day where Romney addressed several hundred workers in the L’Enfant Plaza theater where he admitted a slow response to discrimination saying the department “hasn’t been as effective as it needed to have been” in dealing with bias.

“I will admit there have been legitimate grounds for complains. But we have taken steps and will take more to see that a true equal opportunity program is established. But we can only do it in an orderly manner.”

“From now on every employee will be made aware of our [training] programs, and all vacancies will be clearly advertised.”[196]

The following day, dissatisfied with Romney’s response, another sit-in was conducted by about 100 employees where Booker told them federal workers from around the city would join them for a demonstration on October 19th and promised to escalate tactics by organizing a work slowdown.[197]

On October 15th about 150 workers protested outside the HUD building before going to the cafeteria where they heard Booker tell them that on Monday, they needed to be “ready to fight” and that black employees are not going to tolerate any more “mistreatment from supervisors.”[198]

Protest continued October with a GUARD city-wide rally at HUD October 19th[199]and finally on October 29th HUD responded granting many of the task force’s demands.

The group, which had expanded their demands to 16 points, had HUD grant 12 of them and announced the promotion of 42 employees in the comptroller’s department by November 15th with a review pending on another 200 workers.

HUD refused to transfer the supervisors in the comptrollers department, upgrade all employees below grade 10 and establish a majority black panel to study promotions.[200]

An employee spokesperson told The Washington Post that most of the solutions were “acceptable” but that at least three needed more clarification, particularly one where the group was calling for amnesty for all employees involved in the three weeks of protests.[201]

But the protesting HUD employees quickly found out that the agreement was not what it seemed and 103 employees were docked one day of pay for the October 12th sit-in. The employees immediately appealed the discipline.[202]

Booker president of GUARD

Booker denounces freeways: 1968

Reginald Booker in 1968

In April 1971, Booker was chosen as president of GUARD–the city wide task force and took a paid position with Urban Law Institute—an organization that assisted GUARD with legal help.[203]

By then GUARD had expanded to 16 federal agencies and two District of Columbia Departments—sanitation and fire–and had about 1,500 dues paying members. About 1,100 of those were federal employees.

GUARD was organized by the Urban League in early 1970 with Robert White as its president. White was the local president of the National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees, the historic black postal union formed when the initial unions wouldn’t permit black people to join. When White was elected national president of NAPFE, Booker took the helm of GUARD.

Phillip Shandler wrote in his Washington Star Federal Spotlight column that “Booker has brought to GUARD a pungent style of leadership sharpened by several years of fighting freeways that threatened to displace black homes in the District.”

“Booker’s rhetoric is important in appealing to younger blacks not turned on by older union and civil rights leaders, says Leonard Ball, the GUARD coordinator on the staff of the Washington Urban League.”

“The GUARD task forces create and sustain pressure on agencies to upgrade blacks—either in direct response to GUARD demands or in negotiations with the union, Ball says.”[204]

Shandler reported that while few unions pressed discrimination vigorously, GUARD had good relations with the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) at the Office of Economic Opportunity, the Census Bureau, and the Departments of Health, Education and Welfare and Housing and Urban Development.[205]

Shortly after Booker took the helm of GUARD, the HUD task force staged a four-hour demonstration of about 160 employees May 13, 1971 outside the offices of Lester Condon, assistant secretary for administration. They were seeking an affirmative action plan that HUD officials had been promised to be ready the previous week.

Condon responded similar to Romney and refused to meet with the demonstrators telling them to get back to work, but the protesters refused.

Condon followed up by issuing one-day suspension notices to about 160 workers and five-day suspension notices to four of the leaders.[206][207]

Booker responded that the agency is violating something more important than a personnel regulation—the human spirit of its minority employees in the interview with Philip Shandler.[208]

EEOC rules in employees’ favor

EEO finds ‘pattern or practice of discrimination’ at HUD: 1971

HUD found guilty of racist practices–Oct. 1971.

In October, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued a decision on the original HUD suspensions for the October 13, 1970 sit-in and found a “historic pattern or practice of discrimination” that dated back to the agencies that preceded the formation of HUD.

While the findings were only recommendations, appeals examiner Julia P. Cooper recommended that discipline be set aside.

She further found that black employees were immobile in the lowest grade levels while whites moved ahead; that the department brought in black workers at the lowest hiring levels despite their experience or education; neglected to, concealed knowledge of or denied training opportunities to black workers; penalized those who complained of discrimination, and permitted white supervisors who committed these acts to continue in their positions for years.

Cooper said in her finding that testimony of the 88 witnesses “paints a picture of a waste of human potential—one totally out of focus with the trend of current law.”[209]

Further she found that HUD management made no changes until after the protests occurred.

“Other plans or minor changes were discussed or announced but it was not until the latter part of 1970, after the October 13th event here in question, that positive action to ameliorate the problems materialized,” she said.[210]

On the issue of discipline, Cooper found that that the lost pay or forced leave for participating in the protest was taken “under questionable circumstances and without fair warning and equitable application.”[211]

Cooper cited as examples of blatant discrimination a black female “of 28 years of service who reached the Grade 4 level after 18 years as a Grade 3” and Grade 5 after 10 years as a Grade 4.

Cooper cited another case of “a female with almost 30 years of government service who said she had trained many a white person, and they had gone on,” but she was not permitted to promote to supervisor.

Black workers with less service time were also affected according to Cooper. A black female with two years of college, two years of accounting, training in programming and clerical status was employed as a Grade 2 keypunch operator.

Cooper found that whites who were friendly with black workers were treated similarly where such “offending” whites received the discrimination usually reserved for black workers.[212]

Ronald Wallace, the chair of the HUD Task Force Against Racism, said his group was largely satisfied, but would continue to press “to get rid of racist supervisors.”[213]

However, Romney quickly denied the findings saying that his record “speaks for itself…”

“The percentage of minority citizens in our Washington offices has increased from 31.6 percent in 1969 to 40.5 percent at the present time.”

“The percentage of minority employees in grades 7 and above has increased from 14.3 percent in 1969 to 19.6 percent at the present time,” Romney said, perhaps not realizing he was touting incremental progress.[214]

Ironically it was Romney’s staff that initiated the hearing by notifying the Civil Service Commission of the October 1970 allegations against them. The Commission then notified EEO.[215]

The findings, however, vindicated GUARD, the HUD task force and Booker’s confrontational tactics.

Other GUARD work

Calvin Rolark, founder of United Black Fund: 1970 ca.

Calvin Rolark circa 1970.

Shortly after taking over as president of GUARD in 1971, Booker toured federal departments and agencies to rally black workers to fight against discrimination.

At a rally held in the Agriculture Department auditorium in June 1971, Booker told workers, “Don’t call that honkey boss ‘mister’ if he ain’t willing to give you the same courtesy.”

“And get his address—he’s got yours. We may have to visit him someday.”

Shandler reported that the audience “cheered appreciatively.”[216]

Booker boosted the United Black Fund (UBF) in 1971, which was only started the previous year, by pledging GUARD would be the “collecting arm” of the UBF.

The UBF was started by Calvin Rolark, a civil rights activist and publisher of the Washington Informer, in 1969 after he charged that the United Givers Fund was discriminating against black organizations.[217]

The UBF had only raised $6,000 the previous year, but in 1971 raised nearly $50,000 due in part to Booker’s drive among GUARD affiliates and a decision by the District government to permit payroll deductions.[218][219]

In August 1971, Booker denounced President Richard Nixon’s wage freeze and his pledge to reduce the government work force by five percent.

Booker said that black workers faced a “triple burden” under the freeze where wages would be frozen, they would be the first and perhaps only workers to be laid off since they were concentrated in the lower federal grades and that black workers would not be promoted and would be forced to fill in for other workers without additional pay.

Booker then led demonstrations at various departments and agencies against the freeze.[220]

The EEO hearing examiner’s findings on HUD promoted a rash of complaints to the D.C. Delegate to Congress Walter Fauntroy and he in turn held hearings on federal government discrimination.[221]

While Booker had by then moved on[222], GUARD mobilized task force affiliates to testify at the week-long hearings in September 1972 where task force members from the Government Accounting Office, Health Education and Welfare, Department of Agriculture and Department of Transportation, Commerce Department, and Walter Reed among others.[223][224][225][226]

As a result of the hearings Fauntroy sought congressional approval to give EEO the power to issue “cease and desist” orders against federal agencies instead of their advisory recommendations.[227]

MLK assassination ‘riots’

America on fire after King assassination: 1968

The District of Columbia is in flames after King is assassinated.

While Booker was engaged in the ECTC, the construction task force, and GUARD, he remained broadly active and often took a leading role in many different rights struggles through the late 1960s and through the 1970s.

He participated in street actions in the city following the murder of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in April 1968 and gave his thoughts in a May 1, 1968 hearing of the appointed city council at Eastern High School[228] on Rehabilitation of District of Columbia Areas Damaged by Civil Disorders that was later incorporated into congressional testimony on the issue.

Booker started off calling the disturbances a “revolution” and defended the property destruction and looting.

“The burning, the devastation, you can call it riots, you can call it looting. I know what black people call it and I know what I call it.”

“Any time oppressed people are so denied, and so oppressed, and the channels of the so-called usual mechanisms of dealing with these ills, if they cannot solve the problems, then black people and all other people have the right to burn and bring destruction if that alleviates their misery.”

“Does it take burning? Does it take looting? Of course, I know the people who were looting, they were only taking back what was theirs all the time.”

“I know they were taking back what was theirs because when the rebellion broke out, I was right out there in the street with my people.”

“Now, a whole lot of those hypocritical white folks, they said, ‘well, look they even burned down some of their own people so it couldn’t have been racial. They were just out to steal something.’”

“How can you steal from a crook?”

“It was pointed out recently, for example, that Safeway, on the day that welfare recipients receive checks, raise their prices.”

“Recently the Washington Post ran a series of stories on certain credit merchants on 7th Street, on how they exploit black people. How can you buy a TV that is worth $50 and end up paying $300-plus for it, and then if you don’t make all the payments it is repossessed and the man sells it over about 10 times again?”

Booker expounds on solutions

Howard students demonstrate after King’s murder: 1968

Howard students demonstrate the day after King’s murder.

Booker also called for radical change and called for a moratorium on re-building until the devastated areas could be rebuilt with black input and with black cooperative ownership.[229]

In the 1970 interview, Booker further explained his views on the prospects for black economic progress, holding that economic freedom for black people in the United States could only come through integrating a U.S. black economy with a unified African economy.

“In the first place, I am opposed to capitalism. The reason that I am opposed to capitalism, is because capitalism is based on the concept of so-called free enterprise, every man for himself.”

“It is based on—wealth for a few elite group of people and suffering for the masses of people—black people. I think the term black capitalism is a political term designed to slow down the thrusts of the black struggle. It is designed to sort of get a certain segment of black people into the so-called American mainstream.”

“If anybody understands capitalism you have to have—in order to be a capitalist you must own and control the means of production and distribution, and black people don’t own, control nor do they manufacture any goods. So according to the definition of economics that doesn’t make us black capitalist regardless of what the Nixon administration tells us.”

“I’ve heard a lot of talk about cooperatives and different economic ventures that’s really—as far as I can say—it’s really not the answer because cooperatives and things of this nature are still dependent upon the much larger white economic community.”

“I see as the only solution…unless we can own and control some means of production and manufacturing and distribution in our own community, we are still going to be tied to the white man’s economic system and exploited. That’s the root of it in terms of economics.”[230]

However Booker didn’t see the possibility of doing that solely within the United States and looked toward a broader, self-sustaining pan-African economy that black people in this country would be a part of as the solution.

Pan Africanism

MLK Jr. Assassination, 7th Street Damage: 1968 #2

7th & T Streets NW in April 1968. Booker opposed the Shaw Urban Renewal Plan as a land grab by whites.

“[In Africa] they’re not economically free, and a lot of the African nations aren’t politically free. Because the same black people have been trained at Oxford and those other universities to administer the colonies are still there.”

“If in Africa, if black people completely controlled the African continent, and relate what’s happening on the African continent here within the United States on an economic, military and political level in terms of actually working that the situation here could be changed.”

“But I don’t think unless the African continent is free economically, militarily and politically black people in this country are not going to be free.”

“As Malcolm X said, the revolution is fought over ownership and control of the land. We don’t have that within the United States.”[231]

Booker also made several specific proposals at the hearing on rebuilding after the King “riots.”

“I am asking that the District of Columbia City Council and the black members specifically, raise the question as to why the National Capital Housing Authority is the District of Columbia’s greatest slum lord?

“Why must we continue on with the usual concept of public housing by compounding all black people in the same area, and call it public housing, when in fact it is a concentration camp.

“I was reading in the paper recently where a police official admitted that in the police department recruitment efforts, very few black people were recruited. Well, I know one reason why very few black people were recruited and I am sure the black members are well aware, no black man wants to be put in the position of shooting one of his people, the so-called looting and rioting.”

But [in] this overall situation discriminatory practices in the police department in terms of promotions, in terms of everything else should be investigated.”[232]

When an urban renewal plan in response to the King disturbances was presented for the Shaw neighborhood in January 1969, it was generally applauded by business groups.[233]

However, while the plan didn’t call for massive relocation of black families and demolition of huge swaths like the SW urban renewal of the 1950s when Booker’s family was forced to move, it did call for the relocation of far more low income black families than it was replacing with low income housing in Shaw.[234]

The Washington Post reported that “R. H. Booker, speaking for the Black United Front, called land ownership in Shaw the key to ‘black revolution’ and urged residents to ‘take up arms’ to protect their property.”[235]

Black United Front

Carmichael announces return to D.C. – 1967

Shortly after this December 1967 speech at Howard University, Stokely Carmichael convened a United Black Front in the city.

On January 9, 1968 black power advocate Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture) called together more than 100 black leaders in the city to establish the Black United Front (BUF) designed to speak with one voice on African American affairs in the District.[236]

Carmichael had just returned from an international trip and had announced he intended to settle in the city.[237][238]

Most local black leaders were interested in the concept and Booker was quickly elevated to the steering committee[239] and at one point served as chair of the BUF.[240]

However Carl Moultrie president of the local NAACP chapter was told by the national organization to stay clear after attending one meeting and Sterling Tucker of the Urban League was told to hold off on any organizational affiliation.

The national organization briefly relented and  Tucker accepted a position on the steering committee before being barred by Urban League altogether. Tucker stopped attending meeting in July 1968 and was eventually expelled from the organization for deliberate non-participation.[241][242][243][244]

Formation of the BUF

Sterling Tucker of the D.C. Urban League: 1970

Sterling Tucker of the D.C. Urban League in 1970.

Booker talks about the formation of the BUF in a 1970 interview and concludes that powerful white forces attempted to split the organization.

“Stokely Carmichael which I met Stokely when he first started attending Howard several years ago [1961]. As you know he worked very actively in SNCC, or the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. They had a local action group at Howard University. It was called NAG, the Non-Violent Action Group.”

“So, you see, at that time in Washington [1968] you had a lot of different black groups, and they were involved and at various times and for whatever reasons attacking each other’s positions.”

“So when Carmichael came back from his world tour he organized what was called Black United Front, and it implied just that. Because it contained all black people in Washington of every political spectrum, economic [spectrum]—literally involved in the leadership of the Black United Front.”

“You have people like Sterling Tucker, Channing Phillips, Reverend Walter Fauntroy, David Eaton and Julius Hobson, myself, who are initially in the leadership of the front. In term they were on the steering committee.”

“See at that time the basis behind forming the Black United Front was to keep down political in-fighting in the black community, and let the black community speak with one united voice about whatever we wanted.”

“It succeeded for a while in terms of having it grow a spectrum of black people, but I think the established black organizations began to put pressure on their respective representatives.

“Like Sterling Tucker from the Urban League pulled out or was forced out; Carl Moultrie…from the NAACP pulled out or was forced out. These so-called established Negroes began to pull back.”

“Because, you see, then the white man, through his propaganda meeting [media?] began to ask questions of how could these so-called established Negroes sit in a room with Stokely Carmichael?”

“Once again using those same tactics of divide and conquer not realizing that whatever—whether you’re Roy Wilkins or Stokely Carmichael, you’re still black.”[245]

Booker also talked about the effectiveness of the BUF during that period of time, finding it the most strident advocate in the black community.

“The Black United Front invariably speaks for all the black people in Washington, D.C. You know, whether or not black people want—some black people don’t want to be identified with the Black United Front publicly or being a part of its membership, they still support the Black United Front.”

“It’s true the Black United Front at this point is the loudest thing out in the black community that speaks for the black community. It speaks through the aspirations of black people.”[246]

Police Shootings

Carmichael denounces killer cops: 1968

Stokely Carmichael denounces the D.C. police shooting death of Elijah Bennett in October 1968.

In one of his first actions as a member of the steering committee of the BUF, Booker led a protest of 50 people at the home of Mayor Walter Washington July 15, 1968 demanding three white officers be fired for the shooting death of Theodore Lawson by D.C. police.

Lawson was the 17th person killed by District police in the previous 18 months, of whom six were shot in the back. Another was killed point blank by a police shotgun that “accidentally went off” during questioning.

Lawson was shot while driving away after being questioned by police. They claimed Lawson tried to run them over while witnesses said the police were well clear of the auto.

Those returning from the Booker-led demonstration also staged an impromptu protest of a non-fatal police shooting near 14th & U Streets NW and returned the following day with a picket line in front of the Safeway on 14th Street where Lawson was shot.[247]

Another police shooting occurred in October 1968 whe 22-year-old Elijah Bennett who was slain by a police officer after being stopped for a jaywalking violation at 14th and & Streets NW. Following speeches in front of the New School for Afro American Thought, the crowd that numbered perhaps 200 marched to the intersection of 14th and T Streets where they engaged in jaywalking en masse.

Joined by a growing crowd, some threw bricks and bottles–breaking windows and clashing with police. Police dispersed the crowd by midnight.

The BUF followed up with demands for an elected “Citizen Selection and Review Board” in each police precinct. The board would appoint the precinct captain and officers, set standards for behavior and hear citizens’ complaints.

They also called for a second committee composed of the chair of all precinct boards that would recruit and hire all new police officers and act as a trial board for police accused of misconduct.[248]

Legislation was introduced in the city council to expand the existing precinct advisory boards duties, but to leave appointed representatives, drawing Booker’s ire at a hearing held November 25, 1968.[249]

The effort ultimately produced no major changes as police continued to be the sole body investigating and taking action, if any, on complaints despite a mayor’s complaint review board.[250]

Wilson appointed police chief

Mayor swears in Jerry Wilson as police chief: 1969

Mayor Walter Washington swears in Jerry Wilson as D.C. police chief in 1969.

Mayor Walter Washington decided to appoint Jerry Wilson as police chief and made an announcement to that effect on July 9, 1969.[251]

Wilson was well-known for leading assaults on protesters and was the first officer to fire tear gas on 14th Street after police cleared Resurrection City in 1968 and at Howard University student protests in 1969.[252]

He was also in charge of the police units that moved to quell disturbances in the city after the death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. where tear gas and mass arrests were used.[253]

During Washington’s announcement, Booker, speaking for the BUF, continually interrupted the mayor shouting out repeatedly, “Mr. Mayor, I have a question.”

When Washington finally told Booker he could ask one question, Booker said:

“I want to know how you had the audacity to appoint this person who in the Washington community was the first to shoot teargas and was the first to shoot his gun—how could you foist this man on the black community?”

Washington responded quickly, “The appointment is made.”

Senate District Committee

Joseph d tydings

Senator Joseph Tydings pushed the D.C. Crime Bill that became a model for mass incarceration.

When U.S. Senator Alan Bible (D.-Nevada) retired, U.S. Senator Joseph Tydings (D-Md.) ascended to chair the Senate District Committee that oversaw the city’s affairs through appropriations and legislation for that side of Congress.

Booker, along with 15 other community leaders, signed a letter blasting Tydings as a tool of the “lily-white suburbs” and “temperamentally unsuited to the objective where the perilous and desperate needs of the inner city poor living in the growing slums of the areas are concerned…”[254]

Tydings was given the post by Senate leadership anyway, but the letter’s warnings quickly proved correct.

Senator Tydings immediately shepherded President Richard Nixon’s D.C. Crime Bill through the Senate[255] that provided for “no-knock” police raids, “preventive detention” for suspects charged with violent crimes, provided for a “three strike” rule where someone convicted of three felonies would be sentenced to life in prison, increased prison time for other offenses and permitted 16 and 17-year-olds to be tried as adults for certain felonies.[256]

The D.C. Crime Bill provided a model for similar legislation enacted nationally and in localities across the country that resulted in mass incarceration, including a far disproportionate number of black people, in the United States. In 1970 the total number of U.S. prisoners was about 200,000. By 2010 it was 1.6 million—far outstripping population growth.[257]

Police shoot Gregory Coleman

Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba: 1960

Booker read a letter by Patrice Lumumba at Coleman’s funeral.

Booker remained active in protesting police brutality and criminal justice abuses through the rest of the decade, organizing protests in August 1972 in the wake of D.C. police officer Charles Pender shooting 16-year-old Gregory Coleman in the back as he rode away on a bicycle that had been planted by police.[258][259]

Booker read a letter written by slain black leader of the Congo, Patrice Lumumba, at Coleman’s memorial service.

“This letter embodies the hopes and aspirations of black people. When we walk out of the building, it could be all of us. The only criterion for what happened to Gregory L. Coleman is that he is black.”

“It is not just officer Pender who is to blame, but the whole police system. Chief Jerry Wilson is to blame and so is Mayor Walter Washington, because he has the power to remove these people and he has not. We should think about removing him,” Booker said.[260]

In September 1972, Booker and others organized a citizens tribunal to probe the Coleman shooting where a 17-member panel heard Lancelot Coleman, the youth’s father say, “as long as Nixon runs the city…and we have no voice, no home rule…it will go on and on.”

Booker, representing Government Employees United Against Racial Discrimination (GUARD), testified before the panel and blasted a proposal by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments to coordinate information among area police departments and use sophisticated equipment for surveillance.[261]

Pender was charged with manslaughter and other lesser charges and after two trials was acquitted of all charges in 1976.[262]

Subsequent brutality work

‘Antagonist to white power structure’ Charles Cassell: 1972

Charles Cassell, along with Booker, called for disarming security guards in retail stores.

Booker declared in July 1973 that “all private security guards in all retail establishments must be disarmed” in the wake of a fatal shooting by a security guard. Booker and Charles Cassell called for the District to immediately pass a law prohibiting guards from carrying weapons.[263]

In November 1973, Booker called on Mayor Washington to appoint a citizens panel to investigate the police slaying of 44-year-old Lucille Morgan and a grand jury investigation as well.

Morgan was shot after she allegedly lunged at a police officer with a pair of scissors following an unspecified disturbance at a grocery store. Booker was speaking on behalf of the Coalition of Black People United for Prison Justice.

In November 1976, after a prisoner was beaten by marshals and left for approximately 20 minutes in his cell died before being checked on, Booker called for a second grand jury investigation after the first failed to call key witnesses or examine all the evidence.

Speaking as chair of the Coalition of Black People United for Justice, Booker on November 14, 1976, said that the initial investigation was a “cover-up” and continued, “We have new evidence showing that Curtis Hoston was murdered.”

Booker continued, “We know that beating of prisoners by marshals is routine. In this case they just happened to kill someone.”

The coalition presented Paul Gray, who was being held on a traffic charge at the time of Hoston’s death, to news reporters. Gray said Hoston was handcuffed behind his back “when they stomped him, when they threw him down the stairs and when they threw him against a post.”

One of the marshals kicked Hoston “in the head” after he had been placed unconscious in his cell and that Hoston was left for 25 minutes before anyone checked on him.[264]

Gray was not called as a witness before the grand jury.

Booker at a press briefing November 29, 1976 provided a list of new witnesses and called Hoston’s death, “a vicious act of murder committed under the shield of the law.”[265]

A second grand jury called new witnesses, but again cleared the marshals of wrongdoing.[266]

Fauntroy for council chair

D.C. civil rights activist Rev. Walter Fauntroy: 1971

Rev. Walter Fauntroy in 1971.

Booker was involved in many other varied aspects of black liberation and civil rights work through the years.

Continuing his confrontational style on January 23, 1969, as a Black United Front representative, he occupied the D.C. city council’s chairman’s seat while other BUF members filled the other council seats.

When city council chair John Hechinger entered the room to convene a hearing on Shaw urban renewal, Booker convened his own meeting demanding that appointed city council member Walter Fauntroy be made chair of the council.

Hechinger quickly left the room and Fauntroy entered persuading Booker and the others to leave their seats.[267]

Fauntroy, a BUF member and vice chair of the council, never made chairman. He was not re-appointed by President Nixon to the then presidentially selected council.[268]

King holiday

Call for King holiday: 1969

A 1969 “Don’t Work” poster seeking to make April 4th, the day of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,’s assassination, a holiday.

A rally in Malcolm X Park sponsored by the SCLC and the Metropolitan Community Aid Council (along with 3 other rallies at other parks) was held April 4, 1969 marking the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s slaying.

Booker addressed the crowd and urging them to put aside a debate over tactics in advancing black liberation after a group of young men seized the microphone and called for revolution.

“We should not stand here in an open forum and talk about the revolutionary struggle. If you’re talking about a revolutionary struggle you’re talking about an armed struggle.

Booker continued that with all the “FBI, CIA and other undercover agents” around “it doesn’t make sense to discuss the tactics of revolution in an open park—and let’s don’t fool ourselves brothers, that’s what all this talking is about.”

“Let’s get on with the program.”

The regular program then resumed.[269][270]

A follow-up April 17thmeeting at the District building sponsored by the Free Peoples Council drew 200 people that called for making April 4th a national holiday honoring Dr. King.

The early call for a holiday was for it to be celebrated on the date of his death rather than the date of his birth. Booker told the crowd that the only way black people can get the holiday is “to take it.”[271]

Seizure of Howard University

Howard students abandon building takeovers: 1969

Howard students end their occupation of Douglass Hall in 1970.

Howard University students escalated their protests that had been intermittently going on for almost two years in May 1969 and seized most buildings on the campus and held an effective class boycott calling for more student say over curriculum, student discipline, integrating the school with the community and general campus affairs.

Booker played the role of mediator, talking to both students and city officials in an attempt to avert a bloodbath.

After Howard obtained an injunction against the occupying students, more than 100 U.S. Marshals swept the campus arresting 20 students.

The city coordinated the sweep from a command center where Mayor Washington, Police Chief John Layton and Deputy U.S. Attorney Richard G. Kleindienst directed authorities.

Booker and Rev. Joe Gibson entered Douglass Hall as the marshals broke down the barricades and met alone with 16 students locked in a third floor room. They marched out with Booker unhandcuffed and raising their fists in black power salutes as they walked to the detention bus.

A crowd gathered around the bus and began battling marshals with rocks and bottles—later doing the same with D.C. police.[272] [273] [274]

Black Panther Party

Black Panthers seek white D.C. allies: 1969

A Black Panther flyer advertising actions in the D.C. area in the wake of the Chicago police murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.

In December 1969 after the police murder of Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton and member Mark Clark, rallies were held around the country to protest the police and FBI’s targeting of the group.

At least three separate rallies were held in Washington, D.C. including one December 21st at All Souls Church where Booker told the interracial crowd of 200 that black people “stand on the threshold of genocide.”

“Any black man in America in 1969 who does not possess a gun is not intelligent,” Booker said.

“The first task of black people is to collectively arm ourselves for self-defense [because] Nixon, the House of Thieves (Representatives), and the dirty dozen (Nixon’s cabinet) has declared war on us.”[275]

“Anyone who advocates social change stands to be killed because we are all revolutionaries” he continued.

The meeting also called for raising funds to establish a free breakfast for children program in conjunction with the Black Panthers who had not yet established a chapter in the city.[276]

Booker believed in defending the Panthers against attacks, but didn’t agree with their analysis.

“I support the Black Panthers because they are black people [but] I think an ideology which is based on class struggle is incorrect for the black community. I think an ideology based on the fact that our struggle is a race struggle is the correct position.”

Booker conceded there is a struggle within the black community involving class, but held that all black people have a common bond against white supremacy—and that is primary.

“You have this class antagonism within the black community based on economics…Now if two black people are sitting in a room and one has a PhD and one has a fifth grade education and we both walk out the door to face the line of white policemen armed with shotguns, they gonna shoot us both,” Booker said in a 1970 interview.[277]

Other activism

Public Domain: Nixon with Mayor Walter Washington by Jack E. Knightlinger, February 1973 (NARA)

President Nixon congratulates Walter Washington at his swearing in as appointed Mayor of the city in 1973.

Booker was part of a number of other rights actions through the years including testifying against a parking plan in April 1969 where he charged, “The parking bill is part and parcel of the freeway struggle and the urban renewal struggle which is the reclaiming of land for white America and the displacing of black people.”[278]

He was part of a June 1970 effort to urge President Nixon to appoint a member of a minority group to the Federal Communications Commission. Booker was a member of the local chapter of the Black Efforts for Soul in Television that sent a letter to Nixon.[279]

In August of the same year he denounced the appointed mayor and council when Home Rule bills for the District were being considered saying that Mayor Washington was “simply placed there to act as a buffer against angry blacks.”

“In that job, he has conducted himself commendably. But putting in people like the mayor only serves to temporarily forestall the revolution.”

“He does not represent the interests of the masses. He was put there by the White House and the Board of Trade,” Booker continued.”[280]

In September 1970, Marion Barry, Booker, Julius Hobson and the Rev. David Eaton led a march by 80 people to three embassies (French, Italian and Turkish) that they lambasted for importing drugs into the black community.[281][282]

Also in September 1970, he blasted the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for “white supremacy and racism” among its white collar employees. He charged that black people were concentrated in clerical jobs where few were in managerial positions.[283]

He was involved in an effort in early 1971 to bring the first Ali-Frazier fight to RFK stadium for $5 per seat (instead of $15 charged in other commercial venues) in an attempt to provide a low cost event and keep black dollars in the black community. The effort was ultimately unsuccessful for what was later dubbed “The Fight of the Century.”[284]

In April of 1973, Booker was involved in the first Black Assembly in the District and spoke to the gathering that was an offshoot of the national Black Assembly held in 1972 in Gary, Indiana.[285]

Booker joined an effort in 1974 to change the D.C. Charter. He was a member of the group OPEN—Organization for Political Equality Now—headed by Charles Cassell.

The group made three main criticism of the charter: presidential appointment of city judges, presidential authority to take over the city police in an “emergency,” and the prohibition against a commuter tax.[286]

Booker was one of the leaders of three days of demonstrations by Federal City College students in 1974 protesting a $1 million cut in the school’s budget by the city council.

Booker led a demonstration of more than 100 students to the D.C. Council chambers where he had been promised a meeting of the council to hear students concerns. However councilmembers did not show up and Chair John Nevius called off the meeting.

“The verdict of the people at FCC is that they (council members) pulled a Watergate,” said Booker.[287]

Barbara Sizemore

Educator Barbara Sizemore: 1970 ca.

Barbara Sizemore opposed standardized testing as biased against black children.

In 1975, Booker, who always held education close to his heart, joined the effort to protest the impending firing of school superintendent Barbara Sizemore. The activists were led by an impromptu coalition of the Black United Front, the Black Assembly and RAP, Inc., among others and headed up by Washington Informer publisher Calvin Rolark.

They charged that the closed hearings of the school board were an attempt by the white powers to remove Sizemore..[288]

Sizemore was the first black woman to head a major school system when she was appointed superintendent in Washington, D.C., from 1973 to 1975. She was ultimately fired for abolishing standardized tests. Sizemore was an opponent of standardized tests, but when they became entrenched she urged teaching students the analysis, synthesis and inference skills needed to pass them.[289]

At a city council hearing on police intelligence operations in July 1975, Booker charged that Project Progress, a federally funded community relations project, engaged in spying by monitoring political demonstrations during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Booker went on to say that the members received military training, carried weapons and that he personally witnessed Project Progress workers acting as provocateurs, throwing rocks at U.S. Marshals during the May 1969 campus takeover by students at Howard University.

John Staggers, who was head of the program, admitted that Project Progress workers attended an Army camp, but denied military training. He also admitted that the workers attended meetings of dissident groups, but denied they passed the information on to police. He also admitted they were at Howard during the disturbances, but said they were there to act as a buffer and denied they threw any rocks.

Booker said his information came from sources in the Office of Economic Opportunity that funded the program..

In 1976 Metro held hearings on terminating bus service at Anacostia Station and forcing people to ride the subway to come across the Anacostia River thereby increasing their fares and travel times.

Booker, representing the Black United Front, joined with dozens of other community activists to oppose the plan.[290]

Marion Barry

Future mayors confer at freeway hearing: 1968

ECTC vice chair Marion Barry confers with Sammie Abbott during a D.C. Council freeway hearing in 1968.

When Marion Barry was running the first time for mayor of the city in 1978 and was denounced by some of his former activist colleagues, Booker came to his defense.

“Marion has been able to do what few other grassroots political activists have done. He has made the transition from street activism to electoral politics. Some people criticize him and say he’s sold out, but he’s just changed his tactics and strategies. He has a view from the outside and the inside,” Booker told the Washington Star.[291]

Representing the Black United Front again, Booker in April 1978 blasted a proposed rate increase by Pepco, joining other community activists at a hearing.

Booker testified, “We all had these same issues in 1976. Citizens shouldn’t have to be technical experts…we pay the commissioners to be the experts.”

“The commission is not going to respond to us today because we didn’t put them there. They respond to the pressure of those (elected officials) who answer to commercial and utility interests,” Booker continued.[292]

Booker’s reported and unreported activities is much longer and wider than described here, but aforementioned give an overview of the breadth and depth of his involvement in civil rights and black liberation struggles from the mid 1950s through the end of the 1970s.

Electoral Efforts

Hobson seeks D.C. Delegate post: 1971

Julius Hobson told Booker he would never win “Man of the Year” for his uncompromising militant activism.

Booker quoted Julius Hobson as once having told him, “Reginald, you will never win Man of the Year Award for what you’re doing.”

Hobson’s prediction proved accurate. Booker tried to enter politics like other activist contemporaries of his such as Marion Barry, Charles Cassell, Hobson, Sammie Abbott, Douglas Moore, Hilda Mason and Walter Fauntroy who all won local offices at one point or another.

However his radical, uncompromising approach did not serve him well in electoral politics.

While transportation, employment and police brutality comprised most of his aggressive activism, he never forgot his initial experiences in the D.C. education system as a student thrown into the “general” track or his early efforts to change the school system for the better.

He first sought to run for D.C. school board in 1968 from Ward 8. However his friend Albert Whitaker, who was supposed to deliver the nominating petitions before the board of elections deadline, failed to show before the board’s doors were locked.

At a hearing September 24, 1968, Whitaker testified he had car trouble on the Suitland Parkway that prevented him from arriving on time. The board of elections denied Booker a spot on the ballot.[293]

This was at the height of Booker’s prominence as he was in the middle of both the bus boycott and the freeway fight and it was an open seat. It was probably his best chance winning an election, but fate turned another direction.

Booker was expected to run a strong race in 1969 from Ward 8 against the incumbent James Coates and said he was “90 percent sure” he would run.[294]

“Mr. Coates is a middle class minister who is unrepresentative of an area where most of the people are poor.” Ward 8 covered far southeast and southwest, including Anacostia and Congress Heights where most of the city’s public housing projects were and still are located.[295]

Booker predicted he would “bury Coates” in the election.[296]

However Booker did not file for this election. “Booker said yesterday [September 21, 1969] he decided ‘at the last minute’ that his commitments to ECTC and other groups would not allow him to run,” wrote the Washington Post.[297]

In 1971, Booker joined the effort to elect Marion Barry to the school board in Barry’s first electoral effort.[298] Barry won the seat by a 10,000 vote margin over incumbent Anita Allen[299] and was selected as chair of the board when it met in 1972.

In 1976, Booker ran as a write-in candidate for city council against Rev. Jerry Moore, but his vote totals were so low they were not reported with the election results.[300][301]

Booker runs for school board

Booker’s last run for school board: 1994

Booker’s last run for school board got him the most votes but the same result.

Booker took a run at school board again, this time in 1979 in Ward 1 while he was living at 2120 16th Street NW.[302] In that election incumbent Frank Smith was running with Marion Barry’s support and there were a number of other challengers.

Booker took aim at the school system “for producing high school graduates who, fundamentally, have no skills.”

The Washington Star reported, “Booker said he would like to have the curriculum re-examined and to have basic subjects such as reading, writing , speech and mathematics emphasized.”

“The school system has all resources it needs, but it needs aggressive leadership,” Booker added.[303]

Booker finished in last place of the five candidates in the balloting behind winner Frank Smith. Smith won with 1,782 votes while Booker polled only 141.[304]

Booker took one more shot at school board in 1994, this time in Ward 2 and won the largest number of votes in his electoral efforts through the years.

The Washington Post wrote that “R. H Booker, a staff member at the nonprofit United Black Fund Inc., said he is running because his 14-year-old daughter attends Jefferson Junior High and he wants ‘to see all of the schools equal in terms of money spent, facilities, teachers, materials.’”

“Booker said the first task the board should tackle is educating parents about their rights and how the board operates. He said that the school system’s payroll is ‘bloated’ and that the board should consider eliminating positions that are not relevant to classroom instruction.”[305]

Booker again finished last, this time in eighth place with 415 votes compared to winner Ann Wilcox’s 4,619.[306]

Views on women

Black liberation leader Gwen Patton: 1980 ca.

Black liberation leader Gwen Patton critiqued male supremacy among some male black nationalists.

Booker viewed the white, often well-off women who regularly spoke for the women’s liberation movement at the time as irrelevant to the black community. He further dismissed black women’s efforts and saw any uplifting of black women as downgrading black men—a view that was not uncommon among male black nationalist activists of the era.

“I think the woman’s liberation movement is a phenomenon among middle class white women who want to do what they want to do.”

“The women’s liberation movement doesn’t relate to the black community. Because a black woman’s problems, or ills, result from her oppression, and discrimination and the economic lynching of the black male; which places the black woman in a situation in some cases of having to take care of her family, if she’s on public subsidy where the man has to leave the house in order for her to get the money.”

“Or in a lot of instances there are black women who make more money than their husbands because of the fact that the white man sees it feasible, number one, he can try to use the black woman for his own personal purposes.

“That’s why I can notice, for example, in the federal government where most of the black women who are secretaries keeps the black woman right next to the white man. Then where for an example, in the federal government, some of the top positions that are held by black women, which keeps the black males down. In private industry it’s the same way.”[307]

Moynihan’s theories on the black family

DanielPatrickMoynihan

Daniel Patrick Moynihan said that the black family was “pathologically” matriarchal that in turn caused black male ineffectiveness.

Gwen Patton, a rights activist and black liberation leader of the same generation as Booker, critiqued this viewpoint of some male black nationalists—finding that it originated with Daniel Moynihan, a white sociologist who held reactionary views on black families and later became a U.S. Senator.

Patton also did work in the District of Columbia, including working with Mary Treadwell at Pride, Inc. During an interview with Against the Current published in its September-October 2008 issue, Patton said:

“I had the Black Women’s Committee incorporated — I knew this was important for tax-exempt status. [The Black Women’s Liberation Committee, formed by women in SNCC, was a forerunner of the later Third World Women’s Alliance (TWWA) — eds.]”

“Early on, black women and black men were on a par. I was the first Student Body President elected at Tuskegee since it had become a co-ed school….I didn’t see all this division.”

“But Moynihan called black women Amazons and said we castrated our men. Some of our men bought into that, and then we saw the beginning of all this heavily male-dominated cultural nationalism.”

“I began to talk about the need to have a women’s perspective. There’s a terrific concept, which was formulated by SNCC’s Fran Beal — women’s “triple jeopardy” in confronting racism, sexism and class. This wasn’t in “reaction” to anything — in fact we discussed that, and reactive politics didn’t accomplish anything.”[308]

While there is not a record of Booker changing his views after 1970, he would have had a difficult time reconciling them with the black women who took leading roles within GUARD while he was president of that organization.

Booker was fighting side-by-side with black women to obtain higher pay, open up more professional jobs for women and to get rid of white supervisors who were biased against them for being black and a woman.

CIA, FBI & D.C. police spying

CIA, FBI, D.C. police surveillance of Reginald H. Booker: 1968-72

The 1975 Rockefeller Commission report on CIA activities in the U.S. revealed that Booker’s Niggers, Inc. was under surveillance.

When Rockefeller Report on CIA domestic activities was released in June 1975, buried within it on page 154 was an obscure reference to “Niggers, Inc.”—the small, four-member group that Reginald Booker led in 1968.

It turned out that Booker and the group were the subject of the CIA’s “Operation Chaos” that tracked dissidents in the United States, but had a particular focus on the Washington, D.C. area and was run through the CIA’s Office of Security.[309]

Though ostensibly concerned with the security of CIA agents and installations, the “’assets’ reported regularly, usually in longhand. The reports were not confined to matters relating to intended demonstrations at government installations.”

‘They included details of the size and makeup of the groups and the names and attitudes of their leaders and speakers.”

“In some instances, the agency identified leaders or speakers at a meeting by photographing their automobiles and checking registration records. In other cases, it followed them home in order to identify them through the city directory. Photographs were also taken at several major demonstrations in the Washington area and at protest activities of the White House.”

“Assets were instructed to include within their reports the details of meetings attended, including the names of the speakers and the gist of their speeches, any threatening remarks against United States government leaders, and an evaluation of attitudes, trends, and possible developments within the organization.”[310]

Other D.C. groups targeted

Women reject HUAC, march on White House: 1962

Women’s Strike for Peace, shown marching in 1962, was among D.C. groups target by. the CIA.

Other local groups targeted included the Mayday Tribe, Women’s Strike for Peace, the Washington Peace Center, the Congress of Racial Equality, the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, The Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the New School of Afro American Thought, the Washington Ethical Society, The Black Panthers, American Humanist Association, The War Resisters League, the Black United Front, Urban League, Washington Mobilization for Peace, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, and the Nation of Islam.

The spying by the CIA began in late 1967 and continued through 1972, although intelligence gathering was turned over to the District of Columbia police in December 1968 who continued to forward reports to the CIA.

Booker’s group was first added to the list of organizations to track in August of 1968. A minimum of 12 agents, and often more, tracked the activities of groups and individuals in the District of Columbia.[311]

In 1975, the Senate “Church Committee” also investigated FBI, CIA and NSA surveillance of American citizens and further information was revealed on domestic spying activities and disruption activities in the Washington, D.C. area.

Lawsuit against D.C. police and FBI agents

Reginald Booker Arrested for Fixing Up Brookland Home: 1969

Booker is frisked when he arrested for ‘liberating’ a home in Brookland during the North Central Freeway actions.

In July of 1976 seven individuals and two organizations sued the five FBI executives in charge of a widespread spying and disruption program here and nine city police officers that they identified.

Those suing were Booker; Hobson (and his wife Tina Hobson after he passed);  Rev. David Eaton, pastor of All Souls Church; Arthur Waskow of the Institute for Policy Studies; Sammie Abbott who was by then mayor of Takoma Park; Abraham Bloom, a longtime local peace activist; and Richard Pollock, a freelance writer. The organizations were the Women’s Strike for Peace and the Washington Peace Center.

It represented the first political action damage claim for invasion of privacy from the Vietnam era.[312]

During the discovery phase, the few FBI documents released showed that Abbott, Booker and the ECTC were under surveillance at George Washington University, city council chambers, 14th and & U Streets NW and at the Three Sisters Bridge site, among other places.

A Booker speech at George Washington University during the Three Sisters Bridge demonstrations October 22, 1969 was included in the documents.

Booker began the speech, “Before we get started…I would like to acknowledge the presence of FBI agents and undercover people…Report back to the Nixon people that the bridge will be smashed.”

The documents showed that Booker was listed in the FBI’s “agitator index” and “rabble-rouser index.”

When the case went to trail in 1981, there was testimony and evidence presented that the FBI and D.C. police went far beyond surveillance.

Seeking to drive a wedge between black activists and the peace movement, the FBI created a flyer from the BUF demanding reparations from a peace group sponsoring a demonstration asking for $1 per demonstrator for “safe conduct” in the city and then issued a racist “response leaflet” showing monkeys and bananas saying “Give them bananas.”

Booker testified that while working for the Black United Front a man working as his aide was identified as an undercover D.C. police officer.

Sammie Abbott testified that while speaking at a rally near the Three Sisters Bridge he warned the crowd that police and undercover agents were prepared for any confrontation and attempted to warn the crowd against marching on the bridge site.

He testified someone in the crowd shouted “sellout” and “coward.” A confrontation between police and demonstrators later occurred, resulting in a number of arrests. Abbott testified the heckler matched the description of an undercover D.C. police officer.[313]

The suit sought $1.8 million in damages.[314] After 25 hours of deliberation the jury agreed with the plaintiffs that federal agents and police had not only spied, but circulated deliberately false information and attempted to instigate violence in order to discredit them and their political activities.

The jury found most of the defendants had violated the rights of most of those who sued and awarded a total of $711,937.50 in damages on December 23, 1981.

The total was split up among the defendants in varying amounts, depending upon how much damage the jury thought the defendants did to each plaintiff. Booker was awarded about $80,000.[315][316]

Personal life

Booker turns his back on council ‘criminals’: 1968

In 1968 Booker turns his back on the D.C. Council and says, “I’m going to face the people—not some of those criminals who sit on the city council.”

Booker lived in various places throughout the city and appears to have lived in each quadrant for at least part of his life.

He paid a personal price for his activism. While working at the General Services Administration, he was told to quit his job or be fired.

The Leveys wrote:

“One day, after he referred to the D.C. Council on television as ‘President Johnson’s ranch hands,’ Booker was called into the office of the GSA administrator.”

“He was told that his picture would henceforth be posted in the GSA security office so guards would know who he was. He was criticized for ‘embarrassing the president.’ The administrator, Lawson B. Nott Jr., suggested that Booker might be ‘happier elsewhere.’”[317]

Booker resigned.

After he learned of FBI officials and the District of Columbia police officers spying on him and conducting provocative actions infringing in his First Amendment rights, he told The Washington Star newspaper that the authorities made his personal life more challenging in those days.

He said that friends started to shun him because of FBI questioning, that agents questioned his girlfriends and neighbors, and that the surveillance caused him difficulties landing a job and getting good credit.[318]

He worked at various jobs including construction, the General Services Administration, the Youth Division of the United Planning Organization, the Urban Law Institute, and the Black United Fund as well as working as an independent contractor on employment law. He completed at least three years at the University of the District of Columbia majoring in economics.[319][320][321]

Booker had three children: Jaha Booker, Jamal Booker and Daniel Gayden.

Reginald H. Booker died at age 74 on July 19, 2015.[322]

Discussion

Kwame Afoh and Reginald Booker at bus protest: 1970

Edell Lydia Jr. (later Kwame Afoh) and Reginald Booker at a 1970 bus fare protest press conference.

Reginald H. Booker was a unique black nationalist who had a direct impact across racial lines through the anti-Vietnam War movement and his lasting work with the ECTC that resulted in a public transportation system that is superior to most in the U.S. and that continues to define the District of Columbia today.

The fights he waged through CORE to improve District of Columbia education, with the Black United Front against police brutality, and with the construction task force to increase the number of black workers in the trades were on the right side of justice, but are unfortunately still unresolved today.

His early warnings against urban renewal that displaces working class black people went unheeded, and has over time resulted in an increasingly unaffordable city for the laboring class, low level professionals and for those who seek to raise a family.

While issues of discrimination and bias are still more widespread than they should be in the federal government, his work with GUARD produced tangible results in making gains for black workers in the public sector.

Women’s rights

He was not a perfect person–no more than any of us are. His views on women were lamentable. He was right that much of the media representations of “women’s liberation” in the late 1960s dealt with upper class white women.

But he attributes the oppression of black women to the subjugation of the black man and finds that a situation where a black woman makes more money than a black male unsavory.

For all his analysis of white supremacy, he somewhat surprisingly missed the discrimination that affects black women directly. While he noted the debilitating effects of the “man in the house” rule he fails to note many other aspects where white, male supremacy both oppressed and exploited black women.

A few that he doesn’t speak to that were front and center issues of the time included the ability of black women to move into traditionally male jobs, women’s pay compared to men, affordable day care and pre-K, abortion rights, pension rights, women’s inequality within the family–all of which hit black women hard. And that doesn’t mention the black women that played leadership roles in movements for social change.

Solution to black oppression

Announce construction of new black capital city: 1971

Imari Obadele (center) at a Republic of New Africa press conference in 1971.

The question of how to guarantee black rights in the United States has vexed black revolutionaries for a long time.

The Communist Party of the 1920s and early 30s and the later Republic of New Africa led by Imari Obadele argued that a black nation should be established in a geographic area that spanned parts of five states in the southern United States.

Marcus Garvey argued that black people should ultimately return to Africa and give up on the U.S. Garvey sold shares in his companies to raise black capital for black enterprises in the U.S. and vehemently opposed socialists and communists. Others before Garvey attempted re-settlement in Liberia.

Booker and many of his pan-Africanist contemporaries did not advocate this, but instead held a view that African economic and political unity, under an afro-socialist system, held the best promise for black people in America because an economic system based in Africa could be extended into predominantly black areas in the United States thereby freeing black people from white economic domination.

Marxists of various stripes advocate socialism to overcome capitalist exploitation and oppression and have generally upheld some version of self-determination or community control in the black communities in the U.S. However, they don’t see self-determination as meaningful under capitalism, don’t see a separate land-based nation within the United States as a workable solution and don’t believe that a pan-Africanist economic system extending into the U.S. is feasible.

Role of whites

Activist Reginald Booker: 1968

Booker testifying in 1968

While not compromising on his nationalist and pan-Africanist views, It seems later in life Booker reconsidered some of his more strident rhetoric about those whites supporting black liberation and about the issue of working with whites in coalition.

Booker’s experience with white workers at the time of his 1970 interview was largely confined to his experience with workers in the building trades—the most conservative elements within the labor movement. However, his experience at GUARD where a number of white workers and government union locals supported black demands may have modified his views.[323][324]

During his 1971 interview with Shandler during his time at GUARD, Booker drew a distinction between the “honkies” who suppressed black people and those who supported the cause of black liberation. “Polarization between the races would be debilitating,” he said.[325]

When he was interviewed by the Leveys in 2000, he recognized the strength of black and white people working together in coalition, each based on their own interest, pursuing a common goal when he reflected back on his work with the ECTC.

“The whole theory was to appeal to homeowners, no matter what race they were. Our movement was unique. It was black and whites in a common effort, an integrated group, working in their own interests. That was the significant thing. It was an issue that united people.”[326]

Courts vs. Activism

There is often a false divide between the use of courts, lobbying, elections or activism to achieve a social goal. But Booker’s experience in the ECTC points to a different conclusion. Despite oaths and teaching that judges must uphold the law and not allow other considerations to come into their decisions, there’s often quite a bit of latitude within the law and public opinion plays a large role in determining what ruling a judge will make. The example of the ECTC’s confrontational tactics turning public opinion against new freeways in the District can be seen as the impetus behind much of the courts’ decisions to halt freeway work in the city–a lesson that contemporary activists should pay attention to.

Characterizations of Booker

The few descriptions of Booker are more patronizing than complimentary. Gilbert Hahn, an attorney active in the Board of Trade, an appointed chair of the D.C. Council and a frequent target of Booker’s ire over the freeway issue called him a “very nice African American man.”[327]

Hahn’s description reeks of white supremacy, belittles Booker and discounts his conviction. Booker was an intelligent, tenacious, forceful, in-your-face, unrelenting, passionate advocate for African Americans and cannot be simply dismissed as “nice.”

The Leveys paint a sympathetic picture of Booker and include an anecdote about Booker dining in Abbott’s home and the two going out for ice cream.

While the anecdote is undoubtedly true, it paints the same picture of Booker as “nice” in a more subtle way because the Levey’s long Washington Post article “The End of Roads” includes only hints of Booker’s revolutionary core.[328]

Ranking among local black leaders

Rights leader Davidson named to D.C. real estate board: 1963

Eugene Davidson of the New Negro Alliance and the NAACP in a 1963 image.

When considering his place among the most effective black activist leaders in the District of Columbia in the 20th Century who never held elected office in the city, Mary Church Terrell (though she did serve on the appointed school board) would probably have to rank first.

But Booker should rank alongside Francis Grimke, an early D.C. NAACP leader; Rev. William Jernagin, whose rights leadership in the city began at the turn of the last century with the National Race Congress and didn’t end until 50 years later; John P. Davis, the executive secretary of the National Negro Congress who took an active role in District affairs against police brutality and for integrating the defense industry and schools; Marie Richardson Harris, a labor organizer who became the first black woman to hold a full time position in a national labor union and later served as executive secretary of the local National Negro Congress, Oliver Palmer who led 5,000 overwhelmingly black cafeteria workers out of poverty to living wages with health insurance and retirement benefits; Gardner Bishop, who led a student strike for better schools for black children in 1947 and was the force behind the 1954 Bolling v. Sharpe decision that ended legal segregation of District public schools; and Eugene Davidson who headed both the New Negro Alliance of the 1930s and 40s and the D.C. NAACP of the 1950s.

Scant Recognition

New city council member Hilda Mason with husband: 1977

Hilda Mason and her husband Charles upon her election to the city council in 1977.

Booker didn’t expect public adulation for his work and when he reflected back, he was happy with his choices.

“I’m personally satisfied. I saw this as my social responsibility. It was just a natural thing for me to do,” said Booker to the Leveys.[329]

The Leveys wrote:

“On the day that the U Street-Cardozo subway station opened in 1991, D.C. Councilmember Hilda Mason invited Booker to attend a ceremony. She asked him to stand. She told the small crowd that Booker had been a leader to bring the subway to Washington. There was brief applause, but nothing more.”

“It is the only public recognition Reginald Booker has ever received.”[330]

Author’s Notes

I decided to write this when I looked for Reginald Booker’s obituary and couldn’t find one, nor any write up anywhere except the short ones in our photo descriptions on the Washington Area Spark Flickr site, a recent brief one at an online tour, African American Civil Rights, D.C. Historic Sites, and a mention of his death on the Trip Within the Beltway blog about a year after he passed.

It made me angry that no one recognized his greatness. I didn’t really know him, although I saw him speak once or twice in my early activist days–and he was larger than life then.

But somehow we had forgotten him and he died in obscurity. I hope that others will explore his rich life deeper than I have. He is deserving of far more accolades than I can ever give him.

About the Author

The author was an activist for 50 years in the Washington, D.C. area.  He attended the University of Maryland, is a graduate of the National Labor College, the former secretary-treasurer of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 and former executive director of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 400. In addition, worked for the Metropolitan Washington Council AFL-CIO and Progressive Maryland. He is also a former bus operator for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and currently resides in North Carolina. He can be contacted at Washington_area_spark@yahoo.com

Footnotes

[1] Interview with Reginald H. Booker, Robert Wright, July 24, 1970, Ralph Bunche Oral History Collection, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University, Washington, D.C.

[2] The Insane Highway Plan That Would Have Bulldozed DC’s Most Charming Neighborhoods, Harry Jaffe, Washingtonian, October 21, 2015, HTTPS://WWW.WASHINGTONIAN.COM/2015/10/21/THE-INSANE-HIGHWAY-PLAN-THAT-WOULD-HAVE-BULLDOZED-WASHINGTON-DCS-MOST-CHARMING-NEIGHBORHOODS/, accessed January 2, 2020.

[3] Op. Cit., Interview.

[4] Hearings on Integration in Public Education Programs, Committee on Education and Labor, March 1962, Government Printing Office, 1962.,

[5] Op. Cit., Interview

[6] Civil Rights Tour: Protest – Reginald Booker, Anti-freeway activist, https://historicsites.dcpreservation.org/items/show/996, accessed January 2, 2020

[7] Op. Cit., Interview

[8] Op Cit., Interview

[9] Swift Backs Expected to Pace Roosevelt, The Washington Star, September 11, 1959, page D4.

[10] Op. Cit., Hearings on Integration in Public Education Programs.

[11] Chastisement in Public Schools is Endorsed at Board Hearing, Susanna McBee, The Washington Post, April 9, 1963, page B-1.

[12] Op. Cit,, Interview

[13] Just Another Southern Town, Joan Quigley, Oxford University Press, 2016.

[14] Op. Cit, Interview

[15] Group demands change, Edward Peeks, The Afro American, May 13, 1961, page 20.

[16] DC CORE issues guide in ‘selective buying’ bid, The Afro American, December 22, 1962, page 16.

[17] CORE keeps marching in merit hiring drive, The Afro American, March 17, 1962, page 8.

[18] Hahn Stores Reach Pact with CORE, Jean White, The Washington Post, July 30, 1961, page B-1.

[19] CORE Battles D.C. Job Bias, New Pittsburgh Courier, December 8, 1962, page 23.,

[20] Clerics with CORE in store boycott, Edward Peeks, The Afro American, February 3, 1962, page 20.

[21] Op. Cit., Interview.

[22] Black doctors fight hospital discrimination: 1960, Washington Area Spark,https://www.flickr.com/photos/washington_area_spark/49230008013/in/photolist-2i1hEeB, accessed January 3, 2020.

[23] Hospital Settles Racial Dispute, The Washington Post, June 19, 1964, page B-1.

[24] 7 Arrested In Sit-In At Hospital, The Washington Post, June 15, 1964, page B-1.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Op cit., Hospital Settles Racial Dispute.

[27] Op. cit. Interview.

[28] Race Policy Agreement Set at Casualty Hospital, The Washington Post, July 17, 1964, page B2

[29] Columbia Ends Racial Barriers, The Washington Post, June 25, 1964, page D20.

[30] D.C. School boycott Set, The Baltimore Sun, March 9, 1964, page 9.

[31] 11 Negro Leaders Hit School boycott Plan, The Washington Post, March 11, 1964, page C-1.

[32] School Head Meets with Core Chief, The Washington Post, March 24, 1964, page B1.

[33] Hobson Expelled by National Core, The Washington Post, June 21, 1964, page A6.

[34] Op. Cit., Interview.

[35] Rights Leaders Form New Group, The Baltimore Sun, April 17, 1964, page 48.

[36] Op. Cit., Interview.

[37] Op. Cit., Interview

[38] Op. Cit., Interview.

[39] Op. Cit., D.C. School Boycott Set.

[40] DARE Pickets Bank Here in Jobs Protest, The Washington Post, August 17, 1963, page C4.

[41] DARE Stalls Eviction of Family of 8, The Washington Post, October 19m, 1963, page D13.

[42] Civil Liberties Battle Mother’s Welfare Rights, The Evening Star, October 29, 1963, page A-8.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Negroes Urge Rent Strikes, The Washington Post, January 20, 1964, page A7.

[45] District Building March Demands Home Rule, The Evening Star, February 1, 1964, page A-5.

[46] Ibid.

[47] Ibid.

[48] Op. Cit., Interview.

[49] Op. Cit., Interview.

[50] Op. Cit., Interview.

[51] Op. Cit., Interview.

[52] Op. Cit., Interview.

[53] Op. Cit., Interview.

[54] Op. Cit., Interview.

[55] Op. Cit., Interview.

[56] Op. Cit., Interview.

[57] Hobson v. Hansen: The De Facto Limits on Judicial Power, Beatrice A. Moulton, Stanford Law Review 20 (1968): 1252, accessed January 3, 2i020.

[58] Hobson v. Hansen, 269 F. Supp. 401 (D.D.C. 1967), Justia US Law, https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/269/401/1800940/, retrieved January 2, 2020.

[59] Julius Hobson Sr. Dies, Cynthia Gorney, The Washington Post, March 24, 1977.

[60] May Day Boycott Scheduled for D.C., The Washington Free Press, March 26, 1967, page 5.

[61] Shaw School Site Debated, The Washington Star, March 29, 1967, page C-1.

[62] Boycott Supporters Claim Intimidation by School Officials, The Washington Post, April 28, 1967, page B-1.

[63] Hansen, Critics Poised for D.C. School Boycott, The Washington Post, April 30, 1967, page A-1.

[64] Ibid.

[65] Attendance Cut Slightly in School Boycott Here, Susan Filson, The Washington Post, May 2, 1967, page A1.

[66] Op. Cit., Hobson v. Hansen.

[67] “Wright Edict Upheld on All Major Points,” Thomas W. Lippman, The Washington Post, January 22, 1969

[68] “Wright Lets Foes Fight His Ruling.” David Jewell, The Washington Post, February 20, 1968.

[69] The Courts and Social Policy, Donald L. Horowitz, (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1977), page 115.

[70] Ali Still a Champ at Rally, Willard Clopton Jr., The Washington Post, July 16, 1967, page A11.

[71] Antiwar walk with Stokely Carmichael flyer: 1967, Washington Area Spark, https://flic.kr/p/2ejrz9e, accessed January 3, 2020.

[72] Op. Cit., Ali Still a Champ at Rally.

[73] Ibid.

[74] Op. Cit., Interview.

[75] Negroes Protest War at Capital Draft Site, The Baltimore Sun, April 27, 1968, page A-2.

[76] 150 Demonstrators March on District Draft Offices, Paul W. Valentine, The Washington Post, April 27, 1968, page B-2.

[77] Anti-Humphrey Rally Today, The Washington Free Press, July 27, 1968, page 6.

[78] Moratorium Activities for D.C. Area Listed, The Washington Post, October 15, 1969, page A12.

[79] U.S. Is Planning Other Wars, SCLC Leaders Tell D.C. Rally, Michael Anders, The Washington Star, November 12, 1969, page B-1.

[80] Vietnam War Denounced by Blacks, Ivan Brandon, The Washington Post, November 12, 1969, page A-7.

[81] White House Cordoned, Paul W. Valentine, The Washington Post, May 7, 1970, page A-1.

[82] Memorandum for: Chief, SR Staff – Subject Project Merrimack, Central Intelligence Agency, August 8, 1967, http://www.aavw.org/special_features/govdocs_cia_abstract01_full.html, accessed January 4, 2020.

[83] National Hotline, Diggs Dalrooth, Chicago Daily Defender, January 20, 1968, page 2.

[84] Booker confronts pro-freeway speaker: 1968, Washington Area Spark Flickr, https://flic.kr/p/2iiTdfR, retrieved January 26, 2020.

[85] Commission Rejects Any suspicion of CIA Involvement in JFK Death, Thomas O’Toole, The Washington Post, June 11, 1975, page 1.

[86] Foes of Freeway Dogged by FBI Activist Charges, Alan Frank, The Washington Post, April 4, 1977, page D-14.

[87] End of the Roads, Bob Levey and Jane Freundel Levey, The Washington Post, Nov. 26, 2000, page SMB 10.

[88] Op. Cit., Interview.

[89] Op. Cit., Ali Still a Champ at Rally.

[90] Op. Cit., The End of Roads.

[91] Op. Cit., Civil Rights Tour: Protest – Reginald Booker, Anti-freeway activist.

[92] Op. Cit. End of the Roads.

[93] The D.C. Freeway Revolt and the coming of Metro, Richard F. Weingroff, Federal Highway Administration, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/highwayhistory/dcrevolt/, retrieved January 4, 2020.

[94] Op. Cit. End of the Roads.

[95] Making D.C. Democracy’s Capital: Local Activism, the ‘Federal State’, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Washington, D.C., Gregory M. Borchardt, Doctor of Philosophy  dissertation, George Washington University, August 31, 2013, pp 212-214.

[96] Ibid.

[97] Ibid..

[98] Ibid.

[99] Op. Cit., Interview.

[100] Court Blocks All D.C. Action On 4 Freeways, Lee Flor, The Washington Star, February 10, 1968, page A-3.

[101] Op. Cit., Making D.C. Democracy’s Capital: Local Activism, the ‘Federal State’, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Washington, D.C.

[102] Op. Cit., The End of Roads.

[103] Op. Cit., The End of Roads.

[104] Op. Cit., The End of Roads.

[105] Op. Cit., Making D.C. Democracy’s Capital: Local Activism, the ‘Federal State’, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Washington, D.C.

[106] Op. Cit., Interview.

[107] Fauntroy Seeks ‘Out’ On Freeways Order, Roberta Horning and Lee Flor, The Washington Star, December 4, 1968, page D-4.

[108] Public Control of Transit Eyed, The Washington Post, June 8, 1968, page B-2.

[109] D.C. Heads’ Letter on Transit Seizure, The Washington Post, July 19, 1955, page A-9.

[110] Citizens Council Asks City to Purchase D.C. Transit, Jack Eisen, The Washington Post, December 17, 1966, page C-1.

[111] Area Board Urged to Buy D.C. Transit, Jack Eisen, The Washington Post, June 21, 1968, page A-1.

[112] Bus Protesters See Rigged ‘Fare Game,’ Jack Eisen, The Washington Post, September 7, 1968, page B-1.

[113] After 25 Years of Building, Metro Nears the Finish Line, Stephen C. Fehr, The Washington Post, September 23, 1995, page B-1.

[114] New Bus Fare Rise Is Expected Soon, Jack Eisen, The Washington Post, August 16k,1968, page A-1.

[115] Bus Fare Hearing Ejects Two Critics, Roberta Hornig, The Washington Star, August 26, 1968, page A-2.

[116] Ibid.

[117] Two Ejected at Hearing on Bus Fares, Jack Eisen, The Washington Post, August 27, 1968, page B-1.

[118]Op. Cit., Bus Fare Hearing Ejects Two Critics.

[119] Op. Cit., Two Ejected at Hearing on Bus Fares.

[120] Foes of Fare Hike Plan for Bus Hearing, Jack Eisen, The Washington Post, September 3, 1968, page B-2.

[121] Militant Action Threatened if Bus Fares Rise, Lee Flor, The Washington Star, September 5, 1968, page B-1.

[122] Op. Cit., Bus Protesters See Rigged ‘Fare Game.

[123] Op. Cit., Militant Action Threatened if Bus Fares Rise.

[124] D.C. Transit to Drop Tie to Its Parent Firm, Jack Eisen, The Washington Post, September 6, 1968, page B-1.

[125] Hearings End on D.C. Transit Bid for Fare Rise, Jack Eisen, The Washington Post, September 14, 1968, page D-30.

[126] Op. Cit., D.C. Heads’ Letter on Transit Seizure.

[127] President Signs Curb on Wolfson, Alvin Schuster, The New York Times, August 15, 1955, page 34.

[128] Op. Cit., Bus Protesters See Rigged ‘Fare Game.

[129] Avery Hits Bus Firm For Refusal to Cut Its Fare Demands, The Washington Post, October 26, 1968, page B-1.

[130] Bus Fares Go Up Thursday; Cost of Tokens is Higher Now, Jack Eisen, The Washington Post, October 30, 1968, Page A-1.

[131] Bus Showdown: Boycott, Fare Rise, Jack Eisen, The Washington Post, November 30, 1968, page A 14.

[132] Op. Cit., Bus Fares Go Up Thursday; Cost of Tokens is Higher Now.

[133] D.C. Boycott Plan Aims at Full Takeover, Chris Wright, The Washington Star, November 12, 1968, page B-2.

[134] SNCC Claims Bus Boycott Was a 90 Per Cent Success, Richard Corrigan, The Washington Post, January 25, 1966, page C-1.

[135] Further Local Boycotts Are Considered by SNCC, The Washington Post, January 28, 1966, page C-1.

[136] Op. Cit., D.C. Boycott Plan Aims at Full Takeover.

[137] Bus Boycott Response Is Less Than Expected, George Davis, The Washington Post, December 3, 1968, page C-1.

[138] Impact of Bus Boycott Described as Not Heavy, Lee Flor, The Washington Star, December 2, 1968, page B-3.

[139] Ibid.

[140] Op. Cit. Bus Boycott Response Is Less Than Expected.

[141] D.C. Transit Fare Raised to 30 Cents, Jack Eisen, The Washington Post, December 24, 1968, page A-1.

[142] Bus Service is Near Normal, Jack Eisen, The Washington Post, March 31, 1970, page C-1.

[143] Fares Go Up, But Protesters Continue fight. The Washington Post, July 11, 1970, page A-4.

[144] Bus Fare Protests Directed at Capitol Hill, Walter Taylor, The Washington Star, July 15, 1970, page B-1.

[145] Bus Fare Protests Directed at Capitol Hill, Stephen Green, The Washington Star, July 15, 1970, page B-1.

[146] D.C. Bus Bill Is Approved, Goes to Nixon.

[147] No Fanfare Marks Bus Line takeover, Jack Eisen, The Washington Post, Jan 14, 1973, Page A-6.

[148] AB&W and WMA Become Metrobus Divisions today, Jack Eisen, The Washington Post, February 4, 1973, page M-1.

[149] Court Puts Land Deal in Limbo, Lisa Fine, The Washington Post, June 23, 1997, page MD-18.

[150] School Fare Subsidy: Margin of Profit, Jack Eisen, The Washington Post, November 3, 1970, page A-9.

[151] Op. Cit., Making D.C. Democracy’s Capital: Local Activism, the ‘Federal State’, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Washington, D.C.

[152] Freeway Protesters to ‘Reclaim’ Houses, Richard E. Prince, The Washington Post, June 18, 1969, page C-2.

[153] House is ‘Reopened’ in Freeway Protest, Phillip D. Carter, The Washington Post, Jun. 22, 1969, page D=1.

[154] Op. Cit., The End of Roads.

[155] Op. Cit., The End of Roads.

[156] Notebook of an Amateur Politician and How He Began the D.C. Subway, Gilbert Hahn, Lexington Books, New York, 1985.

[157] Op. Cit., Making D.C. Democracy’s Capital: Local Activism, the ‘Federal State’, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Washington, D.C.

[158] “Fists Fly at Voting on Roads: Bridge Foes Erupt as City Bows to Hill,” Jack Eisen and Ina Moore, The Washington Post, Aug. 10, 1969, page A-1.

[159] Congressional Record – House, September 18, 1969, page 47.

[160] ECTC Plans New Actions, Quicksilver Times, January 19, 1970, page 7.

[161] Op. Cit., Making D.C. Democracy’s Capital: Local Activism, the ‘Federal State’, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Washington, D.C.,

[162] Ibid.

[163] Defeat of Freeway Claimed by Group, The Washington Post, November 11, 1969;

[164] Booker Calls for War on Freeways, The Washington Post, September 14, 1969, page A-20.

[165] ECTC Plans New Actions, Quicksilver Times, January 19, 1970, page 7.

[166] Bridge Foes State Biggest Protest, The Washington Star, October 20, 1969, page B-1.

[167] Bridge Protests Dwindle Again, The Washington Star, October 23, 1969, B-2.

[168] Police, Militants Skirmish, The Washington Post, November 17, 1969, page B-1.

[169] D.C. Voters Oppose Bridge in Poll, Paul W. Valentine, The Washington Post, November 5, 1969, page A-12.

[170] Op. Cit. Making D.C. Democracy’s Capital: Local Activism, the ‘Federal State’, and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Washington, D.C.

[171] Ibid.

[172] Ibid.

[173] The Great Society Subway, Zachary M. Schrag, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006.

[174] Op. Cit., The End of Roads.

[175] Freeway Foes Join Jobs for Blacks Drive, Stephen Green, The Washington Star, May 2, 1970, page A-20.

[176] Government to Enforce Hiring Plan, Timothy S. Robinson, The Washington Post, June 10, 1978.

[177] Op. Cit., Freeway Foes Join Jobs for Blacks Drive.

[178] U.S. Sets Quotas for Area Jobs, Leonard Downie Jr., The Washington Post, June 2, 1970, page A1.

[179] Blacks Group Denounces Washington Plan on Jobs, Eugene L. Meyer, The Washington Post, June 5, 1970, page C-1.

[180] Op. Cit., Interview.

[181] Op. Cit., Interview.

[182] Op. Cit., Interview.

[183] Equal Jobs Plan Urged for District, The Washington Post, May 19, 1970, page C-5.

[184] Warning Hurled, The Washington Post, June 26, 1970, page C-3.

[185] Black Firms Win Metro Contracts, The Washington Post, November 13, 1970, page C-2.

[186] Black Group Hits Building Pay Decision, The Washington Star, March 1, 1971, page B-4.

[187] Building Trade Unions Still Lag in Fair Hiring, Paul Valentine, The Washington Post, November 3, 1975, page A-21.

[188] 10-Year Effort Fails to Alter Racial Ratio In The Trades, Courtland Milloy Jr., The Washington Post,, March 10, 1981, page A-1.

[189] Employees Are Outrun by Romney, Joseph D. Whitaker, The Washington Post, October 10, 1970, page B-1.

[190] HUD Black Group in Sit-In Chases Romney to His Car, Leon Coates and Harvey Kabaker, The Washington Star, October 10, 1970, page A-18.

[191] Op. Cit., Employees Are Outrun by Romney.

[192] HUD’s  Romney runs away from anti-bias petition, The Afro American, October 17, 1970, page 1.

[193] HUD Gives Promotions to 42 Aides, Joseph D. Whitaker, The Washington Post, October 29, 1970, page B-5.

[194] Black Employees Protest at HUD, The Washington Star, October 14, 1970, page C-4.

[195] Employee Protests Heard by Romney, Alex Ward, The Washington Post, October 13, 1970, page B-1.

[196] Ibid.

[197] Black Employees Protest at HUD, The Washington Star, October 14, 1970, page C-4.

[198] Protest Charging HUD Bias Continues, The Washington Post, October 16 1970k page D-2.

[199] Protest Rally Slated at HUD, The Washington Star, October 16, 1970, page B-4.

[200] Black Employees of HUD Granted Most Demands, Jackie Truscott, The Washington Star, October 29, 1970 B-4.

[201] Op. Cit., HUD Gives Promotions to 42 Aides.

[202] Racist Policy in Personnel at HUD Cited, Nick Kotz, The Washington Post, October 22, 1971, page A-1.

[203] Black Workers Unite to Press Their Cause, Phillip Shandler, The Washington Star, June 6, 1971 page A-2.

[204] Op. Cit., Black Workers Unite to Press Their Cause.

[205] Ibid.

[206] 160 Black HUD Employees Face Suspension for Protesting, Eugene L. Meyer, The Washington Post, May 27, 1971, page A-5.

[207] HUD May Suspend 156 For Protesting at Work, The Washington Star, May 27, 1971, page B-4.

[208] Op. Cit., Black Workers Unite to Press Their Cause.

[209] H.U.D. Is Charged With Racial Bias, Paul Delaney, The New York Times, October 22, 1971, page 11.

[210] Ibid.

[211] Ibid.

[212] Op. Cit., HUD Discriminates New Study Finds.

[213] Op. Cit., H.U.D. Is Charged With Racial Bias.

[214] HUD is Free of Race Bias, Romney Says, Associated Press, The Washington Post, October 23, 1971, page A-5.

[215] Op. Cit., H.U.D. Is Charged With Racial Bias.

[216] Op. Cit., Black Workers Unite to Press their Cause.

[217] Contributions Drive is Launched by UBF, The Washington Post, September 2, 1971, page C-2.

[218] United Black Fund Gives $30,000 to Agencies, The Washington Post, May 25, 1972, page B-2.

[219] Op. Cit., Contributions Drive is Launched by UBF.

[220] Black Workers Ask Exemption of Freeze, Bay State Banner, August 26, 1971, page 5.

[221] Fauntroy Slates Bias Probe, Walter Taylor, The Washington Star, September 10, 1972, page D-6.

[222] HEW Job Spur Plans Assailed at Hearing, Kiki Levathes, The Washington Star, September 22, 1972, page B-5.

[223] Citizens’ Advocate Charges GAO Bias in Job Practices, Claudia Levy, The Washington Post, September 21, 1972, page C-2.

[224] Lag in Curing HEW Job Bias Cited, Claudia Levy, The Washington Post, September 22, 1972, page C-6.

[225] Op. Cit., HEW Job Spur Plans Assailed at Hearing.

[226] Fauntroy Studies Testimony on Federal Bias, The Washington Star, September 24, 1972, page B-4.

[227] Cease and Desist, The Washington Star, September 22, 1972, page A-6.

[228] Hearings Held on Rebuilding D.C.,, Irvin Ray, The Hilltop, May 3, 1968k page 3.

[229] Rehabilitation of District of Columbia Areas Damaged by Civil Disorders, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Business and Commerce,  Government Printing Office, 1968.

[230] Op. Cit., Interview.

[231] Op. Cit., Interview.

[232] Op. Cit., Rehabilitation of District of Columbia Areas Damaged by Civil Disorders, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Business and Commerce.

[233] Citizen Groups Endorse Urban Renewal Plans, The Washington Post, January 23, 1969, page B-9.

[234] Shaw Stalled In Two Areas, Eugene L. Meyer and J. Y. Smith, The Washington Post, February 23, 1972, page C-1.

[235] Op. Cit., Citizen Groups Endorse Urban Renewal Plans.

[236] D.C. Negro Leaders Work to Maintain Uneasy Coalition, Robert C. Maynard, The Washington Post, January 12, 1968, page B-1.

[237] Op. Cit., Interview.

[238] 100 Rights Leaders Attend Carmichael Meeting on Unity,” Paul Hathaway, The Washington Star, January 10, 1968, page C-1.

[239] Op. Cit., Interview.

[240] Radical Chic of Yesteryear Stays in Fashion for Barry, Robert Pear, The Washington Star, page A-8.

[241] Op. Cit., D.C. Negro Leaders Work to Maintain Uneasy Coalition.

[242] Urban League Wary of Black United Front,, Robert Maynard, The Washington Post, January 18, 1968, page A-1.

[243] Black Front Says Tucker Was Ousted, Robert Hinton, The Washington Post, February 18, 1969, page C-1.

[244] Young Gives Qualified Okay to Carmichael’s United Front, Paul Hathaway, The Washington Star, January 12, 1968, page B-3.

[245] Op. Cit., Interview.

[246] Op. Cit., Interview.

[247] Police Probing Shooting Are Confronted by 100, The Washington Star, July 16, 1968, page B-1.

[248] Black Front Presents Police Control Plan, Robert G. Kaiser, The Washington Post, October 18, 1968, page B-1.

[249] Fight Disrupts Police Control Hearing, Chris Wright, The Washington Star, November 26, 1968, page B-1.

[250] Police-Community Relations Still A Major Problem in D.C., Peter Braestrup, The Washington Post, November 12, 1969, page C-1.

[251] Wilson Picked to Head Police, Is Challenged, The Washington Star, July 8, 1969, page A-1.

[252] Wilson Favored for Position, Stephen D. Issacs, The Washington Post, July 5, 1969, page D-1.

[253] Wilson Leads in Race for Police Chief, John Matthews, The Washington Star, July 4, 1969, page A-4.

[254] Immer Group Zeros in on Tydings, William Grigg, The Washington Star, January 11, 1969, page A-22.

[255] Democrats Believe Tydings May Be In Trouble, Martha Angle, The Washington Star, July 28, 1970, page A-1.

[256] Nixon signs stiff D.C. crime bill, The Afro American, August 8, 1970, page 19.

[257] The History of Mass Incarceration, James Cullen, The Brennan Center for Justice, July 20, 2018, https://www.brennancenter.org/our-work/analysis-opinion/history-mass-incarceration, retrieved January 9, 2020.

[258] Youth’s Friends Consider Suing Police, Louise Lague, The Washington Star, August 21, 1972, Page B-4.

[259] Slaying of Youth on Bicycle: ‘It Was Like a Nightmare,’ B. D. Colen, The Washington Post, August 15, 1972.

[260] Op. Cit., Youth’s Friends Consider Suing Police.

[261] Black Group’s Tribunal Probes Boy’s Shooting, Lurma Rackley, The Washington Star, September 24, 1972, page B-7.

[262] Pender Cleared in Bike Slaying, Stephen Green, The Washington Post, January 28, 1976, page B-1.

[263] Metro Notebook, District, The Washington Star, July 2, 1973, page 25.

[264] New Probe of Court Death Asked, Calvin Zon, The Washington Star, November 14, 1976, page D-2.

[265] Death Probe May Reopen, Silbert Says, Jacqueline Bolder, The Washington Star, November 30, 1976, page D-1.

[266] Probe of Prisoner’s Death Again Clears U.S. Marshals, The Washington Post, January 14, 1977, page C-20.

[267] BUF Usurps Council Seats at Hearing, Vincent Cohen, The Washington Post, January 24, 1969, page A-18.

[268]Fauntroy Sees Gains From Council Service, Irma Moore, The Washington Post, February 24, 1969, page B-1.

[269]Memorial Rallies Urge Rededication to King’s Dream, The Washington Post, April 5, 1969, page A-10.

[270] Solemn Rallies and Services Honor Memory of Dr. King, John Matthews and Barry Kolb, The Washington Star, April 5 1969, page A-1.

[271] Citizens Weigh Dr. King Holiday, The Washington Star, April 17, 1969, page B-4.

[272] 20 Arrested at Howard As Campus Siege Ends, C. Gerald Fraser, The New York Times, May 10, 1969 page 14.

[273] Howard U. Campus Cleared, The Washington Post, May 10, 1969, page A-1.

[274] Boycott Cripples Howard U., The Washington Star, May 7, 1969, Page A-1.

[275] D.C. Activists Are Marked, Pro-Panther Rally is Told, Michael Anders, December 22, 1969, The Washington Star, page B-1.

[276] Black Panthers ‘Suppression’ Protested, The Washington Post, December 22, 1969, page B-2.

[277] Op. Cit., Interview.

[278] Council to Step Into Parking Jam: Solution is Still Down the Road, Eugene L. Meyer, The Washington Post, April 5, 1970.

[279] Bid Black Named Member of FCC, The New York Amsterdam News, June 6, 1970 page 23.

[280] District Mayor-Council Set Up Held not Bad but Not Enough, Richard E. Prince, The Washington. Post, August 9, 1970 page D-1.

[281] Drug Foes Stage Protest, Aaron Latham and B. D. Colen, The Washington Post, September 10, 1970, page B-1.

[282] D.C. Drug Protest Hits Offices of 3 Nations, The Washington Star, September 10, 1970, page B-4.

[283] Racism Charged to Subway Unit, The Washington Star, September 22, 1970, page B-4.

[284] Franchise attempt fails; Ali/Frazier fight still $$, Danny Simms, The Hilltop, February 19, 1971, page 1.

[285] Black Assembly Meets, Corrie M. Anders, The Washington Star, April 29, 1973, page B-6.

[286] Charter Foes Press their Fight, Lynn Dunson, The Washington Star, April 14, 1974, page B-1.

[287] Council Fails to Meet with City College Students, The Washington Star, May 11, 1974, page A-6.

[288] Tactics of 60s Revived, Paul W. Valentine, The Washington Post, May 6, 1975, page C-1.

[289] Barbara Sizemore: Advocate for Disadvantaged Students in Public Schools, Ervin Dyer, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 28, 2004, https://www.post-gazette.com/news/obituaries/2004/07/28/Obituary-Barbara-Sizemore-Advocate-for-disadvantaged-students-in-public-schools/stories/200407280153, retrieved January 13, 2020.

[290] City Aide Scores Plan to Halt Bus Routes at Metro Stops, Jack Eisner, The Washington Post, November 5, 1976, page C-4.

[291] Radical Chic of Yesterday Stays in Fashion for Barry, Robert Pear, The Washington Star, September 6, 1978, page A-8.

[292] Pepco Rate Rise Request Draws Fire at Hearing, Joanna Omang, The Washington Post, April 23, 1978, page B-2.

[293] Booker Bid Rejected in School Race, The Washington Post, September 25, 1968, page F-1.

[294] Coates Decides to Seek School Board Re-election, The Washington Star, September 16, 1969, page B-1.

[295] Booker Plans to Run for School Board, The Washington Star, July 27, 1969, page E-5.

[296] Op. Di5., Coates Decides to Seek School Board Re-election.

[297] D.C. Elections Board to Push Voter Registration, Richard E. Prince, The Washington Post, September 22, 1969, page C-2.

[298] Barry Expected to Seek D.C. School Board Seat, Lynn Dunson, The Washington Star, August 22, 1971, page B-3.

[299] Mrs. Allen, Allies Lose D.C. Vote, Richard E. Prince, The Washington Post, November 3, 1971, page A-1.

[300] D.C. Will Try Out 36 New Voting Machines Nov. 2, Philip Shandler, The Washington Star, October 17, 1976l, page B-4.

[301] Maryland, Virginia, D.C. Election Charts, The Washington Post, November 3, 1976, page A-18.

[302] District Voters Guide, The Washington Post, November 1, 1979, page DC A-1.

[303] Ward One School Board Race Takes Several Directions, The Washington Star, October 22, 1979, page B-1.

[304] District School Board Elections, The Washington Post, November 8, 1979, page C-2.

[305] Without Hall, Race is Wide Open: 8 Seek War 2 Seat on School Board, Valerie Strauss, The Washington Post, October 27, 1994, page J-2.

[306] Local Races; District, The Washington Post, November 10, 1994, page C-12.

[307] Op. Cit., Interview.

[308] Interview with Gwen Patton, Against the Current, September-October 2008.

[309] Report to the President by the Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States, U.S. Government Printing Office, June 1975.

[310] Op. Cit., Report to the President by the Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States.

[311] Ibid.

[312] Jury Weighs 1.8 Million Damage Claim by 7 Activists in Capital, Ben A. Franklin, The New York Times, December 18, 1981, page A-32.

[313] D.C. Jury Hears Activists’ ’76 Suit on Rights Issue, Laura Kiernan, The Washington Post, December 13, 1981, page B-1.

[314] Op. Cit., Jury Weighs 1.8 Million Damage Claim by 7 Activists in Capital.

[315] Jury Awards $711,937.50 to Demonstrators, Laura A. Kiernan, The Washington Post, December 24, 1981, page A-1.

[316] Hobson v. Wilson, 556 F. Supp. 1157, (D.D.C. 1982), District Judge Louis Oberdorfer, United State3s Court of the District of Columbia, June 1, 1982,

[317] Op. Cit., The End of Roads.

[318] Foes of Freeway Dogged by FBI, Activist Charges, Allan Frank, The Washington Star, April 4, 1977, page D-14.

[319] Op. Cit., The End of Roads

[320] Op. Cit., Ward 2.

[321] Op. Cit., Black Workers Unite to Press Their Cause.

[322] Reginald Harvey Booker, Legacy.com, https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/name/reginald-booker-obituary?pid=175367734, retrieved January 16, 2020.

[323] Op. Cit., Black Workers Unite to Press Their Cause.

[324] Op. Cit., H.U.D. Discriminates New Study Finds.

[325] Op. Cit., Black Workers Unite to Press Their Cause.

[326] Op. Cit., The End of Roads.

[327] The Notebook of an Amateur Politician, Gilbert Hahn, Lexington Books, Lanham, Md., 2002.

[328] Op. Cit., The End of Roads.

[329] Op. Cit., The End of Roads.

[330] Op. Cit., The End of Roads.

Five million photo views…what’s next for Washington Area Spark?

20 Nov

Read the story and view the images of a 1936-41 D.C. battle against police brutality.

 

We’ve now topped five million image views of nearly 4,000 images plus thousands of document downloads and close to 100,000 views of our blog posts. Interest in the history of social change-makers and would-be social change-makers keeps growing.

Whether you’re an activist seeking to hone your skills, a history buff, a researcher, looking up your family history or a student doing a term paper, the Washington Area Spark can get you started down a fascinating road.

What do we have? Digitalized images, documents and blog posts on the struggles for social and economic justice and against U.S. imperialism in the greater Washington, D.C. area that occurred prior to the advent of the Internet.

What’s coming

In the coming months we hope to publish three blog posts now being researched:

  • An unsung woman who was a heroine of the D.C. civil rights movement
  • A woman who led a militant union and fought for equality for women in the 1940s
  • The transformation of the U.S. National Student Association from a CIA-funded organization to a CIA-spied upon organization.

In addition, we hope to upgrade our website further by providing links on the blog post guide, image guide and documents pages so you can more quickly get to the categories you are interested in—rather than scrolling all the way down the page.

Our images

DC area SDS: 1963-69

See photos and read the stories of the legendary Students for Democratic Society (SDS) in action in the D.C. area.

And, as always, we will continue to upload new images and documents to our Flickr site and our documents archive of struggles for social and economic justice and against U.S. imperialism abroad that occurred prior to 1990.

Images

Browse our images for what’s interesting to you:

Our blog posts

Our blog posts can also be accessed a number of different ways. Features located on the right side of the website (at the bottom of the page on mobile) include links to:

  • Recent posts (newest to oldest)
  • Top posts and pages (recently popular)
  • Archives (select decade of interest
  • Search (enter a keyword for the subject you’re interested in)
  • Additionally, you may browse by subject in the Navigation tab at the top of the page (subjects are listed alphabetically).

TDA–The Day After the Chicago 8/7 conspiracy trial verdict: 1970. See all documents.

Our documents

Our documents can be accessed on the Documents tab at the top of the page. They are listed by subject alphabetically and within each subject by date. See local alternative newspapers and newspapers, including the vintage Washington Area spark, and a few rare national alternative newspapers by scrolling all the way down the documents page.

Where did the name come from?

We’ve gotten a few inquiries about the origins of the Spark name. The original Montgomery Spark name was a confluence of three influences:

  • The Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin published a paper called Iskra (Spark) and this was known to the Montgomery College students who started the paper, but this was not the prime reason for the selection of the name.
  • The University of Maryland Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) had published a student newsletter called Spark that influenced some of the Montgomery College students.
  • Lastly the Chinese revolutionary Mao Zedong had penned an essay entitled “A single spark can start a prairie fire.” Mao borrowed an old saying for his essay, but it had a dual meaning for anti-establishment Montgomery Spark. A single copy of the newspaper could influence someone to spark societal change and the paper newspaper could also literally be set afire to wreak havoc in the turbulent early 1970s.

Want to use an image?

Our most common inquiry is the use of images posted. All images are marked on the individual image page as “all rights reserved,” “non-commercial use permitted with attribution” or “public domain.” Most have the identification of the original source of the photograph or image at the end of the photo description. If you wish to use an image marked “all rights reserved” or seek a for-profit use of a “non-commercial use permitted,” you will need to contact the holder of the rights to the image.

Do you have images or documents?

Spark is a way to make images and documents from past activism available to all. If you have mementos of past activism in the greater Washington, D.C. area such as photos or flyers or alternative newspapers from events or times prior to 1990 and would like to add them to the Spark site, please contact us.

If you’d like to donate them, we’ll be glad to make arrangements. We can scan them for our site and arrange to donate them to a library. If you’d like to keep your mementos, we can scan them and return them to you.

If you have questions or need assistance, contact us at Washington_Area_Spark@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

Image Guide

30 Jan

Our images are housed on Flickr and can be accessed it a number of different ways: Albums (images that are related or of the same event), Camera Roll (in the order of the date of the image), Photostream (in order of the date the image was uploaded), and by using the search feature at the top of the Flickr page.

Image Albums by Subject

Mayday: May 3, 1971

Mayday, May 3, 1971

 

Quick links by subject

Anarchism

Emma Goldman

Abbie Hoffman in D.C.

Cathlyn Platt Wilkerson

Jerry Rubin

Sacco & Vanzetti: 1920-27

D.C. Weather bombings: 1971-7

Big Bill in DC: 1915

First Red Scare: 1919-25

Antiwar

(See Vietnam War for Indochina conflict)

Amnesty for Political Prisoners: 1918-23

Daniel Berrigan

Phillip Berrigan

Dagmar Wilson

Women’s Strike for Peace

Anti-Korean War: 1950-53

Hit and stay: 1967-75

World Citizen: 1948-49

War against Iraq: 1991

Student Peace Union: 1958-67

Debs in DC: 1921

Antiwar: 1917

Women against war: 1920-81

Jeanette Rankin: 1914-40

Women’s International League: 1915-90

No forced ROTC: 1930-70

Anti-draft protests: 1947-80

Youth Congress: 1934-41

Pre-war peace pickets: 1941

No nukes: 1950-85

Harrisburg 7: 1971-72

Civil Liberties

Amnesty for Political Prisoners: 1918-23

Civil Rights Congress: 1940-46

DC Democratic Action: 1940-46

George E. C. Hayes

Freedom House: 1969

Annie Lee Moss

Clifford and Virginia Durr

William Worthy

Chicago 8/7 conspiracy: 1968-70

Cafeteria Local 471

Madalyn Murray O’Hair: 1963

First Red Scare: 1919-25

DC Red Scares

Marie Richardson remembered

Police raid Progressives: 1948

No-Knock: 1970

Free Press battle: 1969

Surveying police surveyors: 1971-73

Catholic U strike: 1967

Civil Rights and Black Liberation before 1955

Civil Rights Congress: 1946-46

NAACP in D.C.

‘Young Thurgood’ Marshall

Frank D. Reeves

E. B. Henderson

Va. Klan

The Klan in D.C.

Marian Anderson in D.C.

Walter White

George E. C. Hayes

Eugene Davidson

John Preston Davis in D.C.

Charles Hamilton Houston

Clifford and Virginia Durr

A. Phillip Randolph in D.C.

W. E. B. Du Bois in D.C.

Oliver Palmer

“Marc” Marcantonio in D.C.

Pauli Murray

William L. Patterson

David Levinson

Paul Robeson in D.C.

Ex-slave convention: 1916

Capitol cafes: 1934-90

Safeway Jim Crow: 1935-41

Black postal clerks: 1868-1971

Frederick Douglass: 1818-1895

Cafeteria Local 471

Laundry strike: 1937

Interracial dance: 1929

Adam Clayton Powell in DC: 1940-70

Jim Crow at U.S. Engraving: 1947-50

Anti-lynching action: 1934-35

Maryland lynch mobs: 1930-40

DC’s fighting barber: 1947-54 (Gardner Bishop)

DC parks & pool integration: 1949-54

DC New Negro Alliance: 1934-43

DC National Negro Congress: 1936-55

Mary McLeod Bethune

Truman at NAACP: 1947

African American GAR: 1900-35

Youth Congress: 1934-41

For fair employment: 1941-50

Abolish poll taxes: 1940-48

Gone with the Wind: 1940

Interracial strike: 1937

Georgia lynching protest: 1946

DC Scottsboro action: 1932-35

Free Willie McGee: 1945-51

Bilbo has got to go: 1945-46

Mary Church Terrell: 1863-1954

Martinsville 7: 1951

No police brutality: 1941

No police brutality: 1936-40

No VA Jim Crow?: 1946

DC Jim Crow Theaters: 1922-54

Anti-lynching campaign: 1922

MD crab strike: 1938

Marie Richardson remembered

Fighting Capital Transit racism: 1941-55

Civil Rights and Black Liberation after 1955

Wilmington 10: 1971-80

Jesse Jackson in D.C.

AKA in D.C.

Plasterers’ Union: 1964

NAACP in D.C.

Hosea Williams in D.C.

‘Young Thurgood’ Marshall

RAP: 1970-79

Rufus “Catfish” Mayfield

Frank D. Reeves

E. B. Henderson

Coretta Scott King in D.C.

L. D. Pratt: 1965-67

Va. Klan

The Klan in D.C.

Howard Cook

Rev. Douglas Moore

Gwendolyn Britt (Greene)

No. Va. civil rights: 1938-68

D.C. food deserts: 1965-1990

Eugene Davidson

A. Phillip Randolph in D.C.

W. E. B. Du Bois in D.C.

Cleveland Sellers

Julius Hobson

Angela Davis in D.C.

Stokely in the DMV

Gloria Richardson Dandridge

Rap Brown in the DMV

Overturn Bakke: 1977

Police brutality: 1966-72

King in DC: 1956-68

VA school segregation: 1954-66

Youth march: 1959

Adam Clayton Powell in DC: 1940-70

Malcolm in DC: 1961-63

NoVa theater Jim Crow: 1962-63

Goodman, Schwerner, Chaney: 1964

Wallace in MD: 1964-72

MD school segregation: 1954-74

Rats cause riots: 1967

Poor People’s march: 1968

20th Anniversary march: 1983

Giles-Johnson: 1961-67

King holiday: 1968-86

DC civil rights: 1965-70

DC civil rights: 1960-64

Bowie State: 1968

UMD Black Student Union: 1968-75

Stadium pickets: 1963-90

Terrence Johnson: 1979-80

March on Washington: 1963

Laurence G. Henry: 1960-61

March on DC: 1958

Cambridge, MD rights: 1963-67

DC Selma reaction: 1965

Prayer Pilgrimage: 1957

Demand open housing: 1963-67

MD civil rights: 1960-68

MLK assassinated: 1968

Glen Echo picket: 1960

Rockville, MD sit-in: 1960

Homes not roads: 1969

100 hour Hiser picket: 1960

DC rights warrior: 1960

Resistance to the Klan in MD:

African Liberation: 1972-86

DC Black Panthers: 1969-74

VA restaurant sit-ins: 1960

Racism at the Library of Congress: 1971-73

Children’s march for survival: 1972

Communists

Patrick B. “Paddy” Whalen

William Remington

George A. Meyers

Fidel in D.C.

Martin Chancey

End war; jobs now: 1971

Laundry strike: 1937

Cafeteria Local 471

Federal workers school

Interracial Dance: 1929

Communist Assn.: 1944

Anti-Deng protests: 1979

May Day: 1935

MD crab strike: 1938

Seamen march on DC: 1937

Md.-D.C. communists: 1920-65

Release John Porter: 1928

Bicentennial protests: 1976

Hunger Marches: 1931-32

Immigration rights: 1930

Rosenberg execution: 1953

Celanese strike: 1936

Passaic strike: 1926

Madalyn Murray O’Hair: 1963

DC unemployed protest: 1930

DC Red Scares

Marie Richardson remembered

Sammie Abbott appreciation

DC Scottsboro action: 1932-35

No police brutality: 1936-40

Police raid Progressives: 1948

Spanish Civil War: 1936-39

First Red Scare: 1919-25

D.C. Area Miscellaneous

DC Democratic Action: 1940-46

Price protests: 1946-73

Henry Wallace in D.C.

Anti-Semitism in the DMV

RAP: 1970-79

Ralph W. “Petey” Greene

Sam Smith

D.C. alternative periodicals

D.C. food deserts: 1965-1990

Charles Cassell

Jerry Wilson 

J. Brinton “Brint” Dillingham

Radical bank robbery: 1971

Prince George’s protest: 1971

No freeways; build Metro: 1964-74

No fare hike: 1966-72

Protest election: 1968

CCNV: 1973-1990

D.C. voting rights: 1932-73

Group Health: 1959

Hit and Stay: 1968-75

Police raid Progressives: 1948

Sammie Abbott appreciation

Free Press battle: 1969

Surveying police surveyors: 1971-73

Fight Against Fascism

Spanish Civil War: 1936-39

Wallace in MD: 1964-72

Responding to the right: 1940-85

Liberation of Dachau: 1945

Off to fight fascism: 1942-45

Anti-fascist protests: 1930s

Resistance to the Klan in MD:

Housing

Homes not roads: 1969

D.C. area housing: 1944-70

Immigrant Rights

Sacco & Vanzetti: 1920-27

Anti-deportation: 1940

Immigrant rights: 1977

Mt. Pleasant riot: 1991

Immigration rights: 1930

Meeting at Central Presbyterian: 1973

LBGT

Kameny in D.C.

Pauli Murray

LBGT rights: 1975-90

DC LGBT rights: 1965-74

MoCo gay teacher fired: 1972-73

Labor Movement

Machinist Union

Electrical workers (IBEW)

Bakers Union Local 118: 1971-74

Plasterers’ Union: 1964

Patrick B. “Paddy” Whalen

Construction unions: 1939-46

Union representation elections: 1937-80

International Women’s Day: March 8th

Postal pay disputes: 1934-81

Washington Teachers Union: 1967-68

Walter Bierwagen

Craig Simpson

George A. Meyers

Phillip Murray

A. Phillip Randolph in D.C.

Joseph Beirne

Oliver Palmer

Gloria Richardson Dandridge

Mary Gannon

David Levinson

Va. public workers: 1970-90 

Telephone Traffic Union: 1944-47

Capitol cafes: 1934-90

Prince George’s strike: 1980

Railroad workers: 1877-1990

Benefit reductions: 1970-901944-47

Nurses strike: 1978

Labor law reform: 1947-78

Safeway Jim Crow: 1935-41

Black postal clerks: 1868-1971

Government union: 1934

Patco strike: 1981

Laundry strike: 1937

Cafeteria Local 471

Federal workers school: 1937

Big Bill in DC: 1915

Price controls: 1946

Navy Yard wage cuts: 1921

Jim Crow at US Engraving: 1947-50

Tom Mooney in DC: 1939

Release John Porter: 1928

John L. Lewis in DC: 1935-69

Postal employees: 1934

Terrence Powderly: 1849-1924

Group Health: 1959

Debs in DC: 1921

Hotel workers: 1930-90

Celanese strike: 1936

DC truck strikes: 1938-50

Transit strike: 1955

Transit strike: 1951

Samuel Gompers: 1850-1924

Passaic strike: 1926

Solidarity Day: 1981-82

Stadium pickets: 1963-90

D.C. Labor meetings

Government workers: 1928

Communications workers: 1940-80

ATU 689 birth: 1916-17

D.C. area strike wave: 1945-46

Capital Transit strikes: 1945

Mother Jones 1837-1930

Taft-Hartley protests: 1947

Seamen march on DC: 1937

WPA protests: 1936-40

Interracial strike: 1937

DC streetcar women: 1943-61

MoCo teachers strike: 1968

MD crab strike: 1938

Marie Richardson remembered

Fighting Capital Transit racism: 1941-55

Post busts pressmen’s union: 1975

News workers: 1949-75

K. Graham burned in effigy: 1975

DC Metro wildcat strikes: 1978

Farmworkers Safeway boycott: 1973

Transit strike: 1974

Confrontation at Mineral Pigment: 1973

On the job murder at Metro: 1974

Racism at the Library of Congress: 1971-73

Terps at issue in hotel fight: 1974

Union fight at Lanham hotel: 1974

Hotel workers hit GOP: 1974

Say no to Rhodesian chrome: 1973

Caucus pickets steel talks: 1977

Farah boycott: 1973

May Day picket: 1974

Teamsters strike Safeway: 1969-74

Meatcutters strike betrayed: 1973

Retail clerks: 1960-79

ATU Local 689-No Service: 1974

Union staff strike NEA union: 1974

Peoples Drug strikes: 1960-74

Fairfax Hotel strike: 1974

Painters union: 1937-40

Longshore battle: 1951-54

Wartime strikes: 1941-45

First Red Scare: 1919-25

Marijuana

Narcs off campus: 1974

Honor America Day: 1970

Yippie smoke-in: 1973

Legalize pot: 1979

Miscellaneous

National alternative periodicals

Revolutionary culture

Random radicals

Statement flags: 1930-75

National Liberation & Anti-Imperialism

(For Indochina War, see Vietnam War)

Peace Corps critics: 1966-73

Puerto Rican sedition trial: 1954-55

Fidel in D.C.

British out of Ireland: 1969-98

GW Sino Soviet: 1969

DC Area SDS: 1963-69

War against Iraq: 1991

Spanish Civil War: 1936-39

NSA-CIA to NLF: 1967-71

Palestine protest: 1971

Puerto Rican nationalists: 1950-54

Irish republicans: 1919-21

No to imperialism: 1920-90

African liberation: 1952-86

Free 12 Iranian artists: 1973

Say no to Rhodesian chrome: 1973

CIA out of Greece: 1974

Down with the Shah: 1974

Keep out of Mideast war: 1973

Antiwar: 1917

Native Americans

Long Walk for Survival: 1980

Clash at the BIA: 1971

Longest Walk: 1978

Trail of Self Determination: 1976

BIA takeover: 1972

Native American miscellaneous

Prison Rights

Rebellion against system: DC jail 1972

DC Women’s Detention Center: 1973

Tear the walls down: 1973

DC jail uprising trial: 1974

Slave Resistance/Revolts/Military Action

Harriet Tubman

Escape from slavery: 1853-58

Frederick Douglas: 1818-1895

Fight for freedom: 1861-65

MD slave revolt: 1845

African American GAR: 1930-35

Christiana Riot: 1851

Socialism

Debs in D.C.: 1921

People’s Party: 1972

Students

Marc T. Miller

American University strike: 1970

Freedom House: 1969

Cathyln Platt Wilkerson

Narcs off campus: 1974

Catholic U strike: 1967

Youth Congress: 1934-41

Anti-deportation: 1940

NSA-CIA to NLF: 1967-71

DC area SDS: 1963-69

No forced ROTC: 1930-70

GW Sino Soviet: 1969

Bowie State: 1968

UMD Black Student Union: 1968-75

Howard U protests: 1967

U of MD ignites: 1970

Cutbacks and layoffs must stop at the U. of MD: 1973

ROTC off campus: U of MD 1971

U of MD antiwar protests: 1972

Terps at issue in hotel fight: 1974

MoCo teachers strike: 1968

Rennie Davis at Montgomery College: 1973

Transit in the D.C. Area

Hattie Sheehan

Frances Lewis

O. Roy Chalk

Walter Bierwagen

Group Health: 1959

No fare hike: 1966-72

Exact bus fare: 1968

D.C. streetcar women: 1943-60

Transit strike: 1974

ATU 689 birth: 1916-17

On the job murder at Metro: 1974

ATU Local 689: No Service 1974

Fighting Capital Transit racism: 1941-55

Transit strike: 1955

Transit strike: 1951

Capital Transit strikes; 1945

DC Metro wildcat strikes: 1978

U.S. National Domestic Politics & Issues

Farmers’ protest: 1969-85

No social security cuts: 1981

Earth Day: 1970

Price protests: 1946-73

Townsend pension plan: 1936

Bicentennial protests: 1976

Chippewas protest on the Mall: 1970

Throw the Bum Out: 1973-74

Wanted: William E Colby 1973

Madalyn Murray O’Hair: 1963\]

Unemployed

Jobs march: 1980

Mr. Zero in DC: 1921-32

Hunger marches: 1931-32

Bonus Army: 1932-34

Coxey’s army: 1894-44

Jobless: 1949

Youth Congress: 1934-41

D.C. unemployed protest: 1930

WPA protests: 1936-40

Unemployed League: 1934

Workers Alliance: 1935-40

Cutbacks and layoffs must stop at the U of MD: 1973

No cuts in jobless benefits: 1975-77

Veterans

Bonus Army: 1932-34

Dewey Canyon III: 1971

African American GAR: 1930-35

Vets march on the White House: 1974

Servicemen demand bonus: 1973

VA target of vets picket: 1974

Vets hit military court: 1974

Demanding justice at Justice: 1974

Vietnam War

Dr. Spock in D.C.

Rennie Davis in the DMV

Abbie Hoffman in D.C.

Dagmar Wilson

Jerry Rubin

Feds for Peace: 1969-72

End war; jobs now: 1971

Protest election: 1968

S. Viets protest U.S: 1954-75

DC area SDS: 1963-69

Antiwar: 1967

DC antiwar: 1971

DC antiwar: 1970

NSA-CIA to NLF: 1967-71

Dewey Canyon III: 1971

Chicago 8/7 conspiracy: 1968-70

DC Weather bombings: 1971-75

DC Anti-Vietnam War: 1968

DC Anti-Vietnam War: 1966

Hit and stay: 1967-75

Largest Anti-Viet War protest: 1971

Moratorium: Oct. 1969

Anti-draft protests: 1947-72

Howard U protests: 1967

Moratorium: Nov. 1969

Mayday: May 5, 1971

Honor America Day: 1970

DC anti-Vietnam War: 1965

Mayday: May 4, 1971

Mayday: May 3, 1971

Mayday: May 2, 1971

Mayday: May 1, 1971

March on Pentagon: 1967

Republican convention: 1972

Rennie Davis at Montgomery College: 1973

U of MD ignites: 1970

Counter-Inaugural: 1969

Inauguration protest: 1973

ROTC off campus: U of MD 1971

DC Anti-Vietnam War: 1972

U of MD antiwar protests: 1972

Final march: Vietnam War 1975

March on the Pentagon: 1972

Wanted: William E. Colby: 1973

Harrisburg 7: 1971-72

Women’s rights

Hattie Sheehan

Frances Lewis

Emma Goldman

International Women’s Day: March 8th

Angela Davis in D.C.

Dagmar Wilson

Pauli Murray

Gloria Richardson Dandridge

Mary Gannon

Washington Telephone Traffic: 1944-47

Nurses strike: 1978

Abortion rights: 1989

Green Guards: 1940

Women’s vote: 1910-20

Women against war: 1920-80

Jeanette Rankin: 1914-40

Women’s International League 1915-90

Universal childcare: 1971

DC streetcar women: 1943-60

Women’s rights: 1969-81

MD crab strike: 1938

Marie Richardson remembered

Washington Area Spark Historical

Washington Area Spark

Spark and On The Move mastheads

Photographers of Spark & On the Move

Images published in Spark

Images published in On The Move

Spark and On The Move in action: 1973-74

Spark and On The Move trivia

Two children at Spark house: 1972

Mike Quatro concert: 1972

Craig Simpson

Sue Reading

Robert “Bob” Simpson

Laura Bigman

Alex Ajay

Washington Area Spark – Flickr photo collection guide

4 Oct

Cold winds blow on DC cafeteria workers: 1948

1948 cafeteria strike

by the administrator

For updates to this post, see the image guide tab above or the individuals tab above.

The Spark collection is now approaching 3,000,000 photo views on our Flickr site with 2,700 images in 265 different albums, so we’re adding a research guide to help you find images of interest.

Further, our collection of images of struggles for freedom, economic and social justice, against imperialist war, for liberation is growing. We collect, research and publish these images from the pre-Internet era in the hope of connecting the struggles today with those of yesterday.

Hundreds attempt escape at makeshift jail: Mayday 1971

1971 Mayday detainees

The following are broad categories to help you find images. The image albums are not listed in any particular order within the broad categories.

Categorizing these albums within broad categories inevitably leads to disputes. Please accept these categories as finding aids instead of viewing them as political statements.

African American parents picket & boycott DC schools: 1947

1947 DC school boycott

Within Flickr, you may also browse albums (collection of related photographs and images), the photo stream (images by date uploaded) or by camera roll (by date of the image). You may also use the search feature at the top of any Flickr page by entering your own search terms. We strongly urge researchers to use search terms since an image contained in an album may relate to your area of interest even though the album is about a different issue.

As you view these images, we hope you will gain a greater appreciation of these agents of change and learn from their sometimes brilliant and sometimes disastrous strategy and tactics.

Image Albums:

Anarchism and Syndicalism

Sacco & Vanzetti: 1920-27

D.C. Weather bombings: 1971-75

Big Bill in DC: 1915

First Red Scare: 1919-25

Antiwar

(See Vietnam War for Indochina conflict)

World Citizen: 1948-49

War against Iraq: 1991

Student Peace Union: 1958-67

Debs in DC: 1921

Antiwar: 1917

Women against war: 1920-80

Jeanette Rankin: 1914-40

Women’s International League: 1915-90

No forced ROTC: 1930-70

Anti-draft protests: 1947-72

Youth Congress: 1934-41

Pre-war peace pickets: 1941

No nukes: 1950-85

Harrisburg 7: 1971-72

Civil Rights & Black Liberation Struggles before 1955

Safeway Jim Crow: 1935-41

Black postal clerks: 1868-1940

Frederick Douglas: 1818-1895

Cafeteria Local 471

Laundry strike: 1937

Interracial dance: 1929

Adam Clayton Powell in DC: 1940-70

Jim Crow at U.S. Engraving: 1947-50

Crime conference: 1934

Maryland lynch mobs: 1930s

Parents League: 1919

DC’s fighting barber: 1947-54

DC swimming pool integration: 1949-54

DC New Negro Alliance: 1934-43

DC National Negro Congress: 1936-55

Mary McLeod Bethune

Truman at NAACP: 1947

African American GAR: 1900-35

Youth Congress: 1934-41

For fair employment: 1941-50

Abolish poll taxes: 1940-48

Gone with the Wind: 1940

Interracial strike: 1937

Georgia lynching protest: 1946

DC Scottsboro action: 1932-35

Free Willie McGee: 1945-51

Bilbo has got to go: 1945-46

Mary Church Terrell: 1863-1954

Martinsville 7: 1951

No police brutality: 1941

No police brutality: 1936-40

No VA Jim Crow?: 1946

DC Jim Crow Theaters: 1922-54

Anti-lynching campaign: 1922

MD crab strike: 1938

Marie Richardson remembered

Fighting Capital Transit racism: 1941-55

Civil Rights & Black Liberation Struggles after 1955

King in DC: 1956-65

VA school segregation: 1957

Youth march: 1959

DC civil rights: 1966

Adam Clayton Powell in DC: 1940-70

Malcolm in DC: 1961-63

NoVa theater Jim Crow: 1962-63

Goodman, Schwerner, Chaney: 1964

Wallace in MD: 1964-72

MD school segregation: 1954-74

Rats cause riots: 1967

Poor People’s march: 1968

20th Anniversary march: 1983

Giles-Johnson: 1961-67

King holiday: 1968-86

DC civil rights: 1962-64

Bowie State: 1968

UMD Black Student Union: 1968-75

Stadium pickets: 1963-90

Terrence Johnson: 1979-80

March on Washington: 1963

Laurence G. Henry: 1960-61

March on DC: 1958

Cambridge, MD rights: 1963-67

DC Selma reaction: 1965

Prayer Pilgrimage: 1957

Demand open housing: 1963-66

MD civil rights: 1960-68

MLK assassinated: 1968

Glen Echo picket: 1960

Rockville, MD sit-in: 1960

Homes not roads: 1969

100 hour Hiser picket: 1960

DC rights warrior: 1960

Resistance to the Klan in MD:

African Liberation: 1972-86

DC Black Panthers: 1969-74

VA restaurant sit-ins: 1960

Racism at the Library of Congress: 1971-73

Children’s march for survival: 1972

Communists

Laundry strike: 1937

Cafeteria Local 471

Federal workers school

Interracial Dance: 1929

Communist Assn.: 1944

Anti-Deng protests: 1979

May Day: 1935

MD crab strike: 1938

Seamen march on DC: 1937

Md.-D.C. communists: 1920-65

Release John Porter: 1928

Bicentennial protests: 1976

Hunger Marches: 1931-32

Immigration rights: 1930

Rosenberg execution: 1953

Celanese strike: 1936

Passaic strike: 1926

Madalyn Murray O’Hair: 1963

DC unemployed protest: 1930

DC Red Scares

Marie Richardson remembered

Sammie Abbott appreciation

DC Scottsboro action: 1932-35

No police brutality: 1936-40

Police raid Progressives: 1948

Spanish Civil War: 1936-39

First Red Scare: 1919-25

D.C. Area Miscellaneous 

CCNV: 1973-1990

D.C. voting rights: 1932-64

Group Health: 1959

Hit and Stay: 1968-75

Homes not roads: 1969

Police raid Progressives: 1948

Sammie Abbott appreciation

Free Press battle: 1969

Surveying police surveyors: 1971-73

Fight Against Fascism

Spanish Civil War: 1936-39

Wallace in MD: 1964-72

Responding to the right: 1940-85

Liberation of Dachau: 1945

Off to fight fascism: 1942-45

Anti-fascist protests: 1930s

Resistance to the Klan in MD:

Immigrant Rights

Sacco & Vanzetti: 1920-27

Anti-deportation: 1940

Immigrant rights: 1977

Mt. Pleasant riot: 1991

Immigration rights: 1930

Meeting at Central Presbyterian: 1973

LBGT

LBGT rights: 1975-90

DC LGBT rights: 1965-74

MoCo gay teacher fired: 1972-73

Labor Movement

Safeway Jim Crow: 1935-41

Black postal clerks: 1868-1940

Government union: 1934

Patco strike: 1981

Laundry strike: 1937

Cafeteria Local 471

Federal workers school: 1937

Big Bill in DC: 1915

Price controls: 1946

Navy Yard wage cuts: 1921

Jim Crow at US Engraving: 1947-50

Tom Mooney in DC: 1939

Release John Porter: 1928

John L. Lewis in DC: 1935-69

Postal employees: 1934

Terrence Powderly: 1849-1924

Group Health: 1959

Debs in DC: 1921

Hotel workers: 1930-49

Celanese strike: 1936

DC truck strike: 1940 ca.

Transit strike: 1955

Transit strike: 1951

Samuel Gompers: 1850-1924

Passaic strike: 1926

Solidarity Day: 1981-82

Stadium pickets: 1963-90

D.C. Labor Meetings

Government workers: 1928

Communications workers: 1940-80

ATU 689 birth: 1916-17

D.C. area strike wave: 1945-46

Capital Transit strikes: 1945

Mother Jones 1837-1930

Taft-Hartley protests: 1947

Seamen march on DC: 1937

WPA protests: 1936-40

Interracial strike: 1937

DC streetcar women: 1943-61

MoCo teachers strike: 1968

MD crab strike: 1938

Marie Richardson remembered

Fighting Capital Transit racism: 1941-55

Post busts pressmen’s union: 1975

Post printers lockout: 1973

K. Graham burned in effigy: 1976

DC Metro wildcats strikes: 1978

Farmworkers Safeway boycott: 1973

Transit strike: 1974

Confrontation at Mineral Pigment: 1973

On the job murder at Metro: 1974

Racism at the Library of Congress: 1971-73

Terps at issue in hotel fight: 1974

Union fight at Lanham hotel: 1974

Hotel workers hit GOP: 1974

Say no to Rhodesian chrome: 1973

Caucus pickets steel talks: 1977

Farah boycott: 1973

May Day picket: 1974

Teamsters strike Safeway: 1974

Meatcutters strike betrayed: 1973

Retail clerks lose strike: 1974

ATU Local 689: No Service 1974

Union staff strike NEA union: 1974

People’s Drug strike: 1974

Fairfax Hotel strike: 1974

Painters strike: 1937

Longshore battle: 1951-54

Wartime strikes: 1942-45

First Red Scare: 1919-25

Marijuana

Honor America Day: 1970

Yippie smoke-in: 1973

Legalize pot: 1979

Miscellaneous

Revolutionary culture

Random radicals

Statement flags: 1930-75

National Liberation & Anti-Imperialism

(For Indochina War, see Vietnam War)

GW Sino Soviet: 1969

DC Area SDS: 1963-69

War against Iraq: 1991

Spanish Civil War: 1936-39

NSA-CIA to NLF: 1967-71

Palestine protest: 1971

Puerto Rican nationalists: 1950-54

Irish republicans: 1919-21

No to imperialism: 1920-90

African liberation: 1972-86

Free 12 Iranian artists: 1973

Say no to Rhodesian chrome: 1973

CIA out of Greece: 1974

Down with the Shah: 1974

Keep out of Mideast war: 1973

Antiwar: 1917

Prison Rights

Rebellion against system: DC jail 1972

DC Women’s Detention Center: 1973

Tear the walls down: 1973

DC jail uprising trial: 1974

Slave Resistance/Revolts/Military Action

Escape from slavery: 1853-58

Frederick Douglas: 1818-1895

Fight for freedom: 1861-65

MD slave revolt: 1845

African American GAR: 1930-35

Christiana Riot: 1851

Socialism

Debs in D.C.: 1921

People’s Party: 1972

Students

Catholic U strike: 1967

Youth Congress: 1934-41

Anti-deportation: 1940

NSA-CIA to NLF: 1967-71

DC area SDS: 1963-69

No forced ROTC: 1930-70

GW Sino Soviet: 1969

Bowie State: 1968

UMD Black Student Union: 1968-75

Howard U protests: 1967

U of MD ignites: 1970

Cutbacks and layoffs must stop at the U. of MD: 1973

ROTC off campus: U of MD 1971

U of MD antiwar protests: 1972

Terps at issue in hotel fight: 1974

MoCo teachers strike: 1968

Rennie Davis at Montgomery College: 1973

Transit in the DC Area

Group Health: 1959

Exact bus fare: 1968

D.C. streetcar women: 1943-60

Transit strike: 1974

ATU 689 birth: 1916-17

On the job murder at Metro: 1974

ATU Local 689: No Service 1974

Fighting Capital Transit racism: 1941-55

Transit strike: 1955

Transit strike: 1951

Capital Transit strikes; 1945

DC Metro wildcat strikes: 1978

U.S. National Domestic Politics & Issues

Farmers’ protest: 1977-85

No social security cuts: 1981

Earth Day: 1970

Price controls: 1946

Townsend pension plan: 1936

Bicentennial protests: 1976

Chippewas protest on the Mall: 1970

Throw the Bum Out: 1973-74

Wanted: William E Colby 1973

Madalyn Murray O’Hair: 1963

BIA takeover: 1972

Unemployed

Mr. Zero in DC: 1921-32

Hunger marches: 1931-32

Bonus Army: 1932-34

Coxey’s army: 1894-44

Jobless: 1949

Youth Congress: 1934-41

D.C. unemployed protest: 1930

WPA protests: 1936-40

Unemployed League: 1934

Workers Alliance: 1935-40

Cutbacks and layoffs must stop at the U of MD: 1973

No cuts in jobless benefits: 1975-77

Veterans

Bonus Army: 1932-34

Dewey Canyon III: 1971

African American GAR: 1930-35

Vets march on the White House: 1974

Servicemen demand bonus: 1973

VA target of vets picket: 1974

Vets hit military court: 1974

Demanding justice at Justice: 1974

Vietnam War

Protest Viet partition: 1954

DC area SDS: 1963-69

Antiwar: 1967

DC antiwar: 1971

DC national antiwar rally: 1970

NSA-CIA to NLF: 1967-71

Dewey Canyon III: 1971

Chicago 8/7 conspiracy: 1968-70

DC Weather bombings: 1971-75

DC Anti-Vietnam War: 1968

DC Anti-Vietnam War: 1966

Hit and stay: 1968-75

Largest Anti-Viet War protest: 1971

Moratorium: Oct. 1969

Anti-draft protests: 1947-72

Howard U protests: 1967

Moratorium: Nov. 1969

Mayday: May 5, 1971

Honor America Day: 1970

DC anti-Vietnam War: 1965

Mayday: May 4, 1971

Mayday: May 3, 1971

Mayday: May 2, 1971

Mayday: May 1, 1971

March on Pentagon: 1967

Republican convention: 1972

Rennie Davis at Montgomery College: 1973

U of MD ignites: 1970

Counter-Inaugural: 1969

Inauguration protest: 1973

ROTC off campus: U of MD 1971

DC Anti-Vietnam War: 1972

U of MD antiwar protests: 1972

Final march: Vietnam War 1975

March on the Pentagon: 1972

Wanted: William E. Colby: 1973

Harrisburg 7: 1971-72

Women’s Rights

Abortion rights: 1989

Green Guards: 1940

Women’s vote: 1910-20

Women against war: 1920-80

Jeanette Rankin: 1914-40

Women’s International League 1915-90

Universal childcare: 1971

DC streetcar women: 1943-60

Women’s rights: 1970

DC Abortion: 1972

Ratify the ERA: 1976

MD crab strike: 1938

Marie Richardson remembered

Washington Area Spark Historical

Washington Area Spark

Spark and On The Move mastheads

Photographers of Spark & On the Move

Images published in Spark

Images published in On The Move

Spark and On The Move in action: 1973-74

Spark and On The Move trivia

Two children at Spark house: 1972

Mike Quatro concert: 1972

George Davis and the Turbulent Times of D.C. Area Transit Union—1974-80

16 Mar

George Davis, new president of the transit union: 1974

George R. Davis, ATU Local 689 president 1974-80.

By Craig G. Simpson

George Davis became president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 January 1, 1974  and headed the union during three illegal strikes.

He oversaw the opening of Washington, D.C.’s Metrorail system as well as the early stages of local jurisdictions cutting bus workers’ wages and benefits as they set up replacement bus systems in their counties and cities.

But he also successfully fought to keep a full percentage cost-of-living clause for transit workers and formed a slate that integrated the top officers of the union..

After six years of chaos within the union, he was ousted by a 2-1 margin by a rank-and-file member who had never before held a union office.

As a long-time trade unionist he initially made some good decisions, but at later critical times, he made major errors and continued to compound them one on top of the other.


George R. Davis was elected president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 shortly after the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA, also known as Metro) acquired four private bus companies in 1973.

For six years from 1974-80 Davis was at the helm of the union during one of its most tumultuous periods: workers went on strike on three different occasions, defying union leadership’s directives to return to work and also staging a work-to-the-rule regarding the safety features on a bus.

Davis was a veteran bus operator who started work for D.C. Transit at its Northern garage on 14th Street NW. He was elected shop steward/executive board member and later secretary-treasurer of the union before he challenged incumbent president George Apperson for president in the December 1973 union elections.

Union and company in transition

Transit workers wildcat over Metro takeover: 1973

Members of ATU Local 1131 stage a 1973 wildcat strike over Metro takeover and merger into ATU local 689.

Streetcar service ended in 1962 and the new Metrorail system would not begin opening until 1976—meaning the transit system was an all-bus system when Davis became president. Four private bus companies were bought by Metro in 1973 to create the regional Metrobus system.

The union itself was also in transition. The two independent ATU unions at the private companies in Virginia—Locals 1131 and 1079—were merged into Local 689. A dispute over whether Local 689 or the incumbent Teamsters would represent the Prince George’s garage had just been resolved in the Teamsters’ favor.

Two of the unions, Teamsters Local 922 and ATU Local 1131, had staged wildcat strikes over the issue of that merger into Local 689.

Operator ranks were initially integrated racially in 1955, and by the late 1970s black operators outnumbered white operators—most having fewer than seven years of service.

These times were right on the heels of the militant antiwar and black liberation demonstrations and protests of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Further, many black veterans, radicalized by their Vietnam War experience, were also entering the workforce.  Employers across the country had begun to take on unions by trying to increase worker productivity and there was a nationwide strike wave that would last the entire decade.

1973 union election

Apperson begins 3rd term as transit union president: 1971

Davis ousted three-term Local 689 president George Apperson in Dec. 1973.

Davis put together a multiracial ticket for the top five union offices in 1973: Harvey Lee of Northern Division for first vice president, James Buckner of Southeastern Division for second vice president, and Rodney Richmond of Bladensburg Division for financial secretary-treasurer–all black men. A candidate who was the incumbent recording secretary, George Delaney, was added to his ticket.

George Apperson succeeded long-time president Walter Bierwagen in 1964 and led the union battle to obtain an exact-fare policy after the shooting death of operator William Talley in 1968 and came close to calling a strike over missed pension payments by company owner O. Roy Chalk in 1970. Apperson was politically connected and served as president of the Washington, D.C. labor council.

Apperson integrated the officer ranks by adding James Shipman, a black bus operator, to his ticket as second vice-president. Shipman left mid-term and was replaced by Richmond. However, these moves were regarded by the black rank and file as token moves. At the time, the second vice president was not full-time and had no duties spelled out in the local bylaws.

Davis attacked Apperson for “spending too much time on Capitol Hill” and not tending to Local 689 affairs.

In the first competitive election since 1951, Davis narrowly prevailed, 1398-1119. His entire slate won and Rodney Richmond became the first black full-time officer of the local union.

1974 strike

Police Clear Metrobus Strikers from Yard Entrance 1974 # 1

Workers at Bladensburg garage attempt to halt a scab bus from leaving the yard in 1974.

Davis faced an immediate challenge as the new Metro management stalled on contract negotiations–the old agreement was due to expire April 30, 1974. At the center of the controversy was a cost-of-living clause that provided for quarterly increases of the same percentage that the consumer price index increased.

The union pointed to language in federal law that prohibits the use of federal funds to diminish the pay or benefits of workers, while WMATA claimed everything would be up for grabs when the contract expired.

Davis called a mass union meeting at the Washington Coliseum on May 1, 1974. It was attended by about 2,000 members who voted to strike beginning May 2nd. The unexpected strike paralyzed the city.

Metro demanded that the union return to work and pointed to the interstate compact that created Metro which provided that “all labor disputes” were subject to arbitration and that strikes were prohibited. Further the WMATA-ATU 689 labor contract language contained a no-strike clause unless the company refused to arbitrate a dispute.

U.S. District Court Judge John Lewis Smith, Jr. issued an injunction against the strike on May 3rd and ordered Davis to make a good faith effort to get the members to return to work. Davis called a mass union meeting that night at the Sheraton Park hotel on Woodley Road NW.

Davis announced that a restraining order had been issued and told the 1,000 or so assembled that, “I hate like hell to tell you this, but you’re going to have to go back to work.” He started to read the injunction, but was interrupted by shouts of “wildcat, wildcat!” and members headed for the doors before he could finish reading the judge’s order.

The following day Judge Smith angrily admonished Davis and told him he never should have used the words, “I hate like hell to tell you…” saying that those words amounted to an endorsement of a continued strike.  The judge then placed a $25,000 per day fine on the union for disobeying his order and threatened to jail Davis if he didn’t get the workers to return.

Return to work

Back to work order from the union and company: 1974

Return to work orders from the union and the company following the judge’s order to arbitrate the issues.

With the strike continuing, Judge Smith ordered WMATA and the union to arbitrate their dispute, including the cost-of-living clause, but told the arbitrators to give “great weight” to union contentions that the cost of living wage escalation could not legally be reduced. Metro offered to resume negotiations if the workers returned.

Near-normal bus service was run on May 7th and at least some union members saw the judge’s order as tantamount to victory.

It seemed like a win for Davis, who had called the initial strike, but many in the rank and file saw his order to return to work as weakness and derided what they perceived to be his fear of going to jail.

Further, Davis did a poor job of publicizing and explaining the judge’s directive on “great weight” and a number of members’ perception was that they went on strike for nothing.

Davis compounded negative feelings about the strike among the members by assessing the rank-and-file to pay the fine that the judge ordered.

Following the strike, Davis quickly negotiated an agreement with the transit authority that kept the cost-of-living clause intact. However, members voted down the agreement—largely over a paltry general wage increase—and the humiliated Davis was forced to go back to the bargaining table.

The second agreement that Davis brought back contained only minor changes, but was approved at the ratification meeting. Nevertheless, there were the beginnings of bitterness toward Davis by a section of the rank-and-file union members.

1975 safety check

ATU Local 689: No Service 1974 # 1

A bus displays a “NO Not in Service” sign with a block number “Local 689.”

The WMATA management sought to increase disciplinary penalties for workers in 1975, including harsher penalties for a number of minor offenses.

Meanwhile, the aging buses that WMATA had purchased from D.C. Transit and the other private companies in 1973 were in deplorable condition.

Basic safety features including horns and speedometers rarely worked. Some buses had no mirror on the right side and there were no convex mirrors to detect a vehicle right beside a bus.

Worse, brakes were often slack, tires were bald, and turn signals and brake lights often didn’t function.

In response to the harsh discipline and unsafe equipment and Metro’s refusal to seriously negotiate over the issues, Davis called a safety check on October 30, 1975. He put the shop stewards in charge at each division to ensure that no bus went out of the garage with safety defects.

Service put out for the morning rush hour that day from Northern and Bladensburg garages–the two largest, along with the small Royal Street garage in Alexandria–was virtually non-existent. Other garages saw delays in getting service on the street. All told about 500 buses out of 1,600 never made it into service.

An individual operator can refuse an unsafe bus, but the union acting together is legally regarded as a “concerted action,” the same as a strike–and strikes by Metro workers had already been found illegal.  WMATA headed to court to get an injunction, but the slowdown was already over.

The direct action was an overwhelming success and WMATA entered serious negotiations and modified its proposed discipline considerably. With the exception of a few disgruntled workers who wanted no change in disciplinary measures whatsoever and a few others who had neglected to fill out the proper paperwork for the day in order to get paid, Davis seemed to finally get a little credit from the rank-and-file workers.

Supplemental rail agreement

D.C. transit union president George Davis: 1978

George Davis in 1978

Davis also led negotiations in 1975 for a supplemental rail agreement to  cover the subway service that wasn’t yet operational. Besides negotiating over classifications, rates of pay, and some work and seniority rules, Davis obtained recognition language that virtually assured that all blue-collar rail workers would be represented by Local 689. Davis thereby settled any question of whether the Teamsters, who retained representation at the Prince George’s bus garage, had any claim on rail work.

Further, he solved much of the problem of disabled bus operators and mechanics. Previously, workers who were physically disqualified from their jobs had been terminated or forced to retire on disability pension if they were eligible—a small sum unless the worker had a lot of service time.

By obtaining language that permitted those disabled workers to take jobs as station attendants (later called managers), Davis enabled many workers to finish their careers as Metro employees.

It was a major victory for Local 689. Davis received little credit for obtaining union recognition for the whole subway system, but the rank and file were reassured by the designation of the station attendant position as one that could be filled by disabled workers.

It seemed as though Davis had perhaps gotten his bearings and was headed for an effective presidency.

Political challenges

Newly elected transit union officers take the oath: 1974

George Davis and Robert Delaney at the union installation of officers in 1974.

After takeover, Metro’s bus deficits began skyrocketing. The four private bus companies combined were running a deficit of about $1 million per year at the time of takeover. By 1975 Metro was running a $50 million per year deficit.

High inflation rates counted for a part of this, new federal regulations another part, unforeseen repairs on the aging buses bought from the private companies, and new, expanded bus service throughout the metropolitan area accounted for nearly all of the shortfall.

However, local political leaders focused on unionized workers’ wages and benefits—particularly the cost-of-living (COLA) clause that provided for quarterly increases of the same percentage rate as inflation in the area.

After Metro failed to modify the cost-of-living clause in the 1974 contract, its sights were set on the upcoming 1976 contract. Local politicians and the three daily newspapers in the D.C. area were beating the drum about eliminating the COLA clause.

Meanwhile, Montgomery County, Maryland began planning to operate its own bus service.

Davis testified at a public hearing against the proposed Ride On service, but unlike his predecessors Apperson and Walter Bierwagen, was only marginally politically involved or connected.

Davis also did not believe in involving the union members in this fight and did not conduct any extensive lobbying or political activity other than his testimony against what would ultimately become county or privately-run bus service in every jurisdiction in the Washington, D.C. area.

Davis also failed to grasp the dangerous effects that public opinion could have on elected leaders, and so he let the increasing attacks on both Metro and the union in the press go unchallenged.

The latter was something that began to loom large with the rank and file membership.

Caucus formed

Action Alliance formed in response to Metro attacks

An agenda from a 1976 union caucus meeting.

The dissatisfaction with Davis’s failure to respond to attacks in the media produced the first organized rank-and-file caucus in 1976.

Management contract proposals were leaked to the union membership by an unknown person(s) and if adopted would have gutted seniority rules, increased the wage progression period to five years, permitted part-time operators, eliminated the cost-of-living clause, and cut back many other pay and benefit provisions.

Not trusting the union officers to lead the fight, a few members from Western, Southeastern and Four Mile garages formed a 20-member group called Metro Employees Action Alliance.

The Alliance put union officials on the spot at union meetings by posing questions such as “I would like to know what the union’s position is regarding the poor, defective, unsafe equipment that we have been driving on the streets….?”

The caucus also raised money, formulated their own proposals for union contract changes, and hired a public relations firm to get the workers’ side of the story into the news media.

Several news features were written and printed in local newspapers as a result of caucus activity, countering some of the negative press.

However, this initial attempt at organization within the union structure fell apart within a few months due to internal dissent. Nevertheless, it spelled trouble for Davis that members were beginning to form their own organization to take on his administration.

Bicentennial

Metro general manager Ted Lutz: 1978 ca.

Metro general manager 1976-79 Ted Lutz.

The celebration of the nation’s 200th birthday was planned for nearly a year before the July 4, 1976 gathering of several hundred thousand on the Washington Monument grounds and on the national mall.

Political leaders in the region agreed to fund special bus service to handle the volume of tourists expected to flood the city in the months leading up to the celebration. On the day itself, those attending the celebration were urged to leave their cars at home and take the special buses provided from fringe parking areas into the city.

The expected crowds of tourists never materialized prior to the celebration and most of the special buses ran empty—meaning an investment of funds that had no return. The local press hammered on this as another barb directed against Metro.

However, on the day of the celebration hundreds of thousands headed downtown heeding officials pleas to use bus service. All went fairly smoothly until the celebration ended with fireworks shortly after 9 p.m.

Metro officials had not coordinated with city officials on how to move several hundred thousand people out of the downtown area quickly. As a result traffic gridlocked and tens of thousands of people were stranded on the national mall until the early hours of the morning.

While there was plenty of blame to go around, Metro took most of the criticism, leading the WMATA board of directors to initiate discussions with a private contractor, ATE, to run the Metrobus system.

Davis was ambivalent about this development, believing the union contract would be honored. Privately he expressed that it might be a good development since labor relations had been somewhat better under the private companies immediately before Metro’s takeover of the buses.

Union members, however, were concerned this was another attack aimed at their wages and benefits, and so disgruntlement with Davis’s leadership grew.

Fortunately for Davis, a new general manager named Ted Lutz was hired and he was an opponent of privatization. Within months after being hired, Lutz made strides toward improving bus service reliability and set goals that were higher than those contained in the ATE proposal.

Lutz told Metro’s board of directors in 1977, “I think we can save money, improve performance and assure an integrated bus rail transit system” by retaining the bus service in-house.

The Metro board of directors ultimately backed Lutz’s approach and Davis was spared what would undoubtedly have been another nail in his coffin.

’76 contract

Transit union president Davis in a happy moment: 1975 ca.

George Davis, right, enjoys a moment of happiness.

Davis went into the 1976 contract negotiations intending to keep the cost-of-living clause intact.

During negotiations, WMATA proposed the use of part-time operators,  believing this would cut costs and arguing that it would prevent local jurisdictions like Montgomery County from taking over Metrobus lines with lower paid workers.

Later during negotiations, they floated the idea of a “suburban rate” (a lower hourly rate) for certain less-productive bus routes as a means of lowering costs.

Davis privately believed that such concessions were necessary to preserve the bargaining unit. However he was fearful of the reaction of the rank and file to any concessions and refused to entertain a modification of the COLA, part-time work, or a suburban rate.

On April 30, 1976, the union invoked arbitration and the matter headed to a three-member panel composed of one union representative, one company representative, and a neutral arbitrator.

When the disputed cost-of-living pay increase came due for the members in the beginning of July 1976 during the arbitration process, Metro didn’t pay it even though the labor agreement between the union and Metro provided that all terms and conditions within the expired contract should remain “undisturbed” while the new agreement was being arbitrated.

Union head and attorneys confer during arbitration: 1976

George Davis (l) confers with union attorneys during an arbitration hearing before Harry Platt in 1976.

However, Davis didn’t challenge the company’s refusal to pay, indicating that the matter would be settled in the contract arbitration.

This seemingly innocuous decision would come back to haunt Davis later in his career.

When the contract arbitration award was announced in late November 1976, the full cost-of-living clause was retained and there were no new provisions for part-time work or a “suburban rate.” There was no general wage increase, but a dental plan was added for the first time. The arbitration award provided for a two-year contract.

However, arbitrator Harry H. Platt ruled that Metro could skip paying the July 1976 COLA payment—one of those that they had not paid in the interim between the nominal expiration of the contract and the arbitration award date.

In the context of the political attacks on the union that were taking place throughout the area, it seemed like a victory for Davis. He said at the time that retention of the COLA “is obviously a victory…we think we deserved it and we kept it.”

Many of the rank-and-file held a different viewpoint. They viewed Davis as responsible for the lost quarterly payment since he did not challenge the issue at the time the payment was due, and they felt the lack of a general wage increase made this a bad contract.

In the end Davis’s victory in keeping the COLA clause produced few rewards for him politically.

’76 union election

Jim Coughlin, Bladensburg shop steward & board member: 1971

Jim Coglin sought to challenge George Davis for president.

The dissatisfaction with Davis led a shop steward/executive board member from the largest bus garage, Bladensburg, to announce his intention to run for president.

James “Jim” Coglin [some spellings were Coughlin] began a series of small meetings with key figures in the union to build support at other facilities.

Coglin came from the same division as Davis’s secretary-treasurer, Rodney Richmond, so it was not clear that Bladensburg’s 1,000 workers would back him in sufficient numbers to overcome Davis’s organization throughout the system.

Coglin was also white and Davis had integrated the top ranks of the union. Nevertheless, Coglin was a serious threat to Davis. But before the nomination meeting was held in November 1976, Coglin died.

Local 689 top officers at their installation: 1977

The five top ATU 689 officers in 1977.

Davis had struck political gold and was re-elected without opposition.

What seemed like good political fortune for Davis was perhaps the opposite. Davis was already distant from the rank and file, rarely venturing into the field. And as a result of Coglin’s death, Davis didn’t campaign and make his case to the members. With hundreds hired within the last few years, many simply didn’t know him.

Ride-On

Black and white version of transit union logo: 1987 ca.

Black and white version of the Local 689 logo.

The first suburban bus system to start running was Montgomery County’s Ride On in March 1975 with two routes. By late 1977 it had taken over some Metrobus routes and had about 30 operators working out of a garage in Brookmont.

Montgomery County Executive James Gleason made clear the reasons for the start-up service in a comment to the Washington Post:

“Our intention is to lower the overall costs to the feeder bus service not only to residents of Montgomery County but elsewhere in the region by running a more efficient service.”

While some savings could be obtained by forgoing federal assistance and related costly disability and safety requirements and by purchasing sub-standard buses, the only place significant savings could occur was in the wages and benefits of operators and mechanics.

Local 689 had not done any real union organizing in many years. The last attempt had been a raid on the Teamsters Union in 1973 at the Prince George’s Metrobus garage that was halted by the International union, which had a “no-raid” agreement with the Teamsters. Prior to that, no one could remember the last organizing attempt.

Craig Simpson, ATU 689 activist and officer: 1982

Craig Simpson as a rank-and-file bus operator in 1982.

The author of this post, Craig Simpson, then a young, 25-year-old rank-and-file operator at Northern Division, had a friend named Marc Miller working at Ride On who was interested in bringing in the union.

Simpson obtained authorization cards from the union office and provided them to Miller. Miller in turn obtained signatures from 28 of the 30 Ride On operators.

The cards were turned into Rodney Richmond, the secretary-treasurer of Local 689. After several weeks Miller kept bugging Simpson about what was going on.

When Simpson went to the union hall at 300 Indiana Avenue NW, Richmond told him that the International said they weren’t interested because it was “small potatoes.”

Union activists could see the writing on the wall. If Montgomery County was successful in lowering wages and benefits for transit workers, the other jurisdictions that made up Metro wouldn’t be far behind—threatening the union’s bargaining power and creating a substandard wage and benefit package that would drag down future contracts with Metro. It was nothing short of a direct assault on transit workers.

Rodney Richmond, first black full-time ATU 689 officer: 1974

Rodney Richmond in 1974 after his election as financial secretary-treasurer of Local 689.

The challenge to organize Ride On was certainly daunting. The operators and mechanics would have to be organized into a union with no collective bargaining rights.

Union resources would have to be spent lobbying on behalf of the Ride On employees, but their union would be toothless without the collective bargaining that would result in a labor agreement.

Obtaining collective bargaining would have required a political effort since Ride 0n was set up using county employees. At the time, the Maryland state legislature informally required a resolution from the county council supporting collective bargaining legislation before they would consider it.

Collective bargaining legislation would also need majority support from the state senators and state representatives elected from the county, according to the informal requirement of the state legislature.

This meant that Local 689 would have to make a political effort without the support of the International union, if it were to pursue an attempt to organize and obtain a labor agreement for the Ride On unit. To put it mildly, politics was not Davis’s strength and no effort was made at that time.

The “small potatoes” that the ATU International cited turned into one of the 20 largest transit systems in the U.S. In 2019 the Ride On system operated 500 buses with over 1,500 operators and support personnel.

The workers are represented by United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1994. While they have made significant gains in wages and benefits, they still lag behind Metro workers in total compensation 45 years after operations began.

Word began to spread about the failure to organize Ride On, compounding Davis’s woes.

’78 safety wildcat strike

SE Metrobus Operators Strike Over Safety

Workers at Southeastern Division, where the young woman who was assaulted worked, mill outside the facility during their wildcat strike.

Bus operator anger over assaults, usually during fare disputes, had been growing while Davis and the union seemingly took no action.

Brazen armed robberies began taking place where one robber would board through the front door of a bus and another through the back and they would rob the driver and every passenger on the bus. Other armed robbers pointed firearms at drivers at the end of the bus line while accomplices sawed off the fareboxes and absconded with them.

As the fear of armed robberies and assaults boiled, a 32-year old female bus operator at Ridge Road and Burns Streets SE was raped by a man with a knife.

Operators didn’t wait for the union to act. A strike began May 18, 1978 at the former Southeastern Bus Garage at Half and M Streets SE and spread throughout the day to the Bladensburg Road NE garage and the Northern Garage at 4615 14th Street NW.

Rev. Jerry Moore, a city council and Metro board of directors member, visited the strikers and promised action by the District to protect drivers. Metro’s general manager put out a letter outlining the steps he would take to address their concerns.

A meeting was organized at an RFK Stadium parking lot that evening. Striking drivers voted to suspend the strike for two weeks on the condition that a settlement was reached on the safety issue.

Committees were set up at most garages that in turn met with council member Moore.

Government, Management & Union Meet With Striking Drivers

D.C. council member Rev. Jerry Moore, Metro GM Ted Lutz, ATU 689 president George Davis and ATU financial secretary Rodney Richmond meet with disgruntled workers the day after a wildcat strike protesting the rape of a female bus operator.

Davis derided the committee saying, “Committees are fine, but they are not going to be there without union representation because 300 people do not represent 5,000.”

Davis, who had taken no previous action to reduce assaults, now wanted to lead. The slap at the 300 referred to those who attended the RFK parking lot meeting and actually produced results.

Moore, Metro and Local 689 officials met with some drivers the day after the strike. Moore also later held a city council hearing on the issue putting further pressure on the company to act.

The strike resulted in increased police patrols on buses (both Metro and District police), a plexiglass shield installed behind the driver, an emergency “panic button,” and repairs to and activation of non-functioning radios on the buses.

Davis, who was nowhere to be seen during the strike, attempted to take credit for the results and was quoted in the Washington Post, “I feel from what I’ve seen that there definitely has been an all-out effort by Metro to live up to its end of the bargain.”

Those active in the strike derided Davis for the blatant attempt to take credit for something that he had little to do with.

’78 Wildcat Over Cost-of-Living

Mechanics Organize Walkout Over Cost of Living

Metro mechanics at Bladensburg heavy overhaul shop make signs on the first day of the July 1978 wildcat strike.

The union and management had not been able to reach an agreement before the contract expired at midnight April 30, 1978 and Davis again invoked arbitration.

Metro workers remembered the previous contract where they had lost one payment of the COLA, and they blamed Davis for not fighting to enforce the contract language that spelled out that all provisions should remain “undisturbed” during arbitration.

Fresh off the wildcat strike over safety on the buses, frustration with the union bubbled over again at a July 18th meeting of Local 689.

Angry over WMATA’s failure to pay the quarterly cost of living (COLA), union members repeatedly demanded that the union hold a strike vote.

Davis pointed out that a strike would be illegal, based on their experience in the 1974 strike, that he was unwilling to lead another illegal strike, and he refused to conduct a strike vote. He was repeatedly shouted down by the members in attendance.

Davis gaveled the meeting closed and left the hall with other officers.  A rump meeting was then held by about 200 members who called for a strike at 10 a.m. the next day.

Few bus operators initially walked off the job, but a large number of mechanics called out sick while others made strike preparations at the Bladensburg overhaul shop. The afternoon Daily News reported that dozens of mechanics had been fired for halting work.

Anger flashed as news of the harsh discipline spread through the Metro system.

The strike spreads

Metrorail Striker at National Airport 1978

A striking worker pickets the Metro station at National Airport: in 1978: “No cost-of-living, No Work, No Reprisals.”

A meeting held at an RFK Stadium parking lot that evening of rank-and-file Metro workers called for a strike to begin at midnight around two demands:  Metro pay the COLA, and amnesty for all strikers.

Workers heeded the strike call on July 20th.  The vast majority of workers at all eight bus garages, including the Prince George’s garage (4421 Southern Ave) represented by the Teamsters, refused to work.  Subway trains, which ran only from Silver Spring to Dupont Circle and from Stadium-Armory to National Airport, were also shut down.

Davis, interviewed at his office by the Washington Post, failed to understand why workers wanted to fight the company and said, “You have employees who are hell-bent on hell-raising. I don’t have the answer to it.”

“A relatively small group is inciting this thing, and they’re getting followers,” Davis said. He added that he agreed with retaining the cost-of-living clause, but he seemingly forgot the lessons of the 1974 strike when he added, “You can’t support a legitimate gripe by illegitimate action.”

The workers held meetings at each reporting location and elected leaders.  In the absence of today’s cell phones and instant messaging, workers held regular meetings of the strike leaders and rank and file at an RFK Stadium parking lot. Pay phone numbers near each facility were exchanged.

William T. Scoggin Jr., an operator from the former Arlington Garage at N. Quincy Street and Wilson Blvd. in Arlington, VA, was elected spokesperson.

Metro responded by temporarily withdrawing discipline and obtaining court injunctions against three individual strikers from Judge Louis Oberdorfer.

But Oberdorfer went beyond listening to the lawyers from Metro and the union. He understood that strikers would listen to neither and appointed two labor lawyers–Charles “Chip” Yablonski (the son of slain reform mineworker president Joe Yablonski) and Charles Booth–to advise him of the strikers’ position and interests.

Future Local 689 president Golash and first woman officer Perrin: 1998

Michael Golash, one of the 1978 strike leaders and a future union president, is shown with Sandra Perrin, the union’s first female executive board member.

The strikers ultimately retained their own attorneys to represent them before Oberdorfer.

On Sunday, July 23 with the strikers holding firm, Oberdorfer ordered WMATA to post a $40,000 per week bond to ensure that the money for the cost of living increase was provided for, ordered expedited arbitration of the COLA dispute, ordered the union and Metro to take increased measures to inform workers their strike was illegal, and threatened to jail strikers who refused his back to work order.

During the hearing under questioning from the judge, Davis denied he attempted to get strikers to return to work by telling them that the cost-of-living issue would be settled by Friday, July 21st.

However, Melvin Brown, one of about 20 striking workers in the courtroom, provided a piece of paper to their counsel.  It was a message to the members over Davis’s signature stating that arbitration of the COLA issue would be completed by July 21st. Davis was caught in a lie in open court and the word spread quickly among the strikers.

Metro Workers Vote to Continue Strike: 1978

Mass meeting at RFK stadium where William Scoggin (with microphone) is replaced by Eugene Ray (just to the left of Scoggin) as strike leader.

A mass meeting was held that Sunday evening at an RFK Stadium parking lot attracting about 400 strikers—a relatively small number.  Scoggin urged a return to work, advising that the workers had won as much as they were going to win.

However, other speakers, including future union president Michael “Mike” Golash, urged a continuation of the strike until amnesty was granted. The television cameras were rolling when Golash came to the microphone and shouted, “Strike, strike, strike!”

In a voice vote, Scoggin was replaced as spokesperson by Eugene Ray, a bus operator from the 4-Mile Run yard located at 3501 S. Glebe Road in Arlington, VA.

On July 24, WMATA responded by re-opening the Metrorail system with supervisors and a few workers who crossed picket lines.  Scoggin’s Arlington Division went back to work along with a few scattered operators at other Divisions.  Management began circulating false rumors that other locations were already back to work.

Hindered by lack of communications, the strikers began to waver and by the afternoon of Tuesday, July 25, service was restored to normal as one location after another returned to work en-masse.

Strike aftermath

Discipline, but no termination for wildcat strikers: 1978

The arbitration award that reinstated four strike leaders with a lengthy suspension without pay.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Flannery fined three individual members for contempt of court for their roles in the strike.  WMATA fired eight strikers, suspended 86 for 1-9 days without pay and reprimanded 54.

The union took the disciplinary cases to arbitration, although it was reportedly a close vote by the executive board as to whether to arbitrate or drop the grievances with Davis in favor of arbitration.

Discipline was ultimately reduced for many who filed grievances through the union, including seven strikers whose terminations were reduced to long suspensions without pay–largely because WMATA had failed to notify employees after two previous strikes that they could be terminated for walkouts.  One fired striker, who did not file a grievance, was not reinstated.

Other than the discipline, the strike ended much as the 1974 strike with a federal judge giving a strong indication of the preferred outcome.  By ordering expedited arbitration of the disputed cost of living payment and having the disputed money put in escrow, Judge Oberdorfer all but assured the strikers of victory on the COLA issue.

Davis acknowledged after the strike that the union needed to implement reforms saying, “There are going to have to be some changes made…better lines of communications with its members.” He told a Post reporter that he was uncertain whether he would seek re-election.

“Undisturbed” arbitration

Labor arbitrator Richard Bloch: 1978 ca.

Labor arbitrator Richard Bloch in April 1979..

The outcome of the expedited arbitration of the disputed COLA payment was announced August 3, 1978—a little over a week after the strike ended–and proved Davis wrong and the members right.

Arbitrator Richard Bloch ruled that the failure of WMATA to pay the quarterly cost-of-living for the pay period ending July 1, 1978 “resulted in a substantial ‘disturbance’ of existing conditions and, therefore, is a contract violation.”

Scoggins, the deposed strike leader, told the Washington Post, “We’re very pleased…It’s what we expected. The union leadership allowed Metro to get away” without paying the cost-of-living increase.

Another Washington Post news analysis published after the strike found that the union leadership was out of touch with its members.

Douglas Feaver wrote that Davis “cannot remember the last time he was out to visit the union membership in one of the 18 garages and yards the in the areas vast bus and subway network.”

He reported that Davis spoke of the membership prior to the COLA strike, “I can’t control ‘em; I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

’78 contract arbitration

Davis celebrates second term as ATU 689 president: 1977

George Davis, shown in a 1977 photo, took the blame for the introduction of part-time work.

On August 30, 1978, the arbitration of major contract issues was completed with very mixed news for Davis and the union members.

The COLA clause was retained in full, but the panel ruled that Metro could begin hiring up to 10 percent part-time operators with no benefits or seniority.

Part-time work in the transit industry is not really part time. It’s underpaid full time. A person must work the morning and evening rush hour with four to six hours off in between. The length of their day is between 12 and 15 hours, meaning that employment elsewhere is nearly impossible.

The pay hours ranged from 5 to 6 hours per day with no sick leave, holiday pay, vacation, bereavement leave, health insurance or pension benefits.

WMATA believed that part-time employment would save them money, but after more than 30 years of experimentation they found it less costly to hire full time because they could hire more stable, reliable operators.

It was an open secret that Davis favored making concessions to forestall the creation of more suburban bus companies. So while it was a neutral arbitrator who ordered part-time work, Davis and “the union” got the much of the blame from the membership.

New caucuses formed

Caucus denounces union leadership following strike: 1978

At least two rank-and-file caucuses were active following the 1978 COLA strike.

Two organized caucuses flourished in the wake of the 1978 cost-of-living strike.

One was organized as Metro C.A.R (Committee Against Racism), led by Golash.

The other was organized by some of the strike leaders and supporters at a number of garages and shops and was called the Metro Workers Rank and File Action Caucus.

Both caucuses focused their ire on two union officers, George Davis and Rodney Richmond.

In a newsletter issued after the strike, Metro C.A.R. wrote, “First of all, we should oust sellout George Davis who once again showed his true colors (yellow) during the strike.”

The Action Caucus wrote in their newsletter, “When Rodney Richmond announced the contract terms at the special union meeting August 30th at Constitution Hall, he attacked the recent wildcat strike. He stated that arbitration was the best way to resolve disputes and defended the part-time provision, saying that if we didn’t allow part-timers then Ride On type outfits would be set up everywhere…This no-win strategy of our top elected officials must go.”

Richmond’s and Davis’s position was ultimately proved wrong as part-time work expanded to 15 percent and the COLA clause was eliminated in the 1980s at the same time as private low-wage bus service expanded rapidly in the suburban jurisdictions.

Both caucuses continued to attack the union administration and Metro up to the union elections scheduled for December, 1979.

The Metro C.A.R. caucus pressed for strike preparations for the next contract and advocated against white supremacy and against imperialist war, among other issues.

The Action Caucus held a fundraiser for workers fired during the strike, proposed more democratic bylaw changes, and investigated the union’s finances.

The 5-member investigating committee released a 7-page report in October, 1979, just two months before the union election, that found:

“For the year 1978 thousands of dollars were spent for which there is no supporting documentation…In short it is our finding that the Local has been run like a Mom and Pop grocery store rather than an institution with a budget of over $800,000 which is accountable to 4,500 members.”

The committee’s financial investigation just piled on to Davis’s and Richmond’s woes.

1980 union election

Charles Boswell, one-term ATU Local 689 president: 1980

A close associate of William Scoggin, Charles Boswell, announced he would run for president after Scoggin died.

Scoggin, the former strike leader, announced early that he would take on Davis. Walter Tucker, a bus operator at Northern Division was another strong candidate who announced his intention to run for president. Tucker had been the first black shop steward/executive board member when he was elected in 1970.

Others who would announce included Golash, who had urged members not to return to work during the strike; Ray, the strike leader who replaced Scoggin; George Goodwin, another strike leader; Thomas Toomer, a Bladensburg operator; and Will Dietrich, a gadfly from Western Division.

The 55-year-old Scoggin, viewed as a pro-strike moderate, was clearly the strongest candidate to challenge Davis, but once again lightning struck for Davis, and Scoggin died prior to nomination.

A compatriot of Scoggin at Arlington garage, Charles Boswell, entered the race in his place.

As the Local 689 election committee reviewed the records of candidates in November, 1979 after nominations, it disqualified a number of office-seekers.

The local bylaws at the time required attendance at six union meetings per year each year for a two-year period prior to nomination (but including the nomination meeting).

They also required “continuous” union membership for the two-year period prior to nomination, which meant paying your dues prior to being “suspended” from membership. Suspension occurred automatically when someone was two months in arrears in their dues.

Walter Tucker, first black board member of ATU 689: 1971

Walter Tucker, the first black voting member of the union’s executive board was disqualified in his attempt to run for president.

Among those disqualified was Tucker, who had been on workmen’s compensation and neglected to pay his union dues while he was off work. Davis probably thought he’d struck gold again—two of his strongest opponents were out of the race.

Other candidates who were disqualified, including George Goodwin, went to court and obtained  a quick settlement because of their individual circumstances to place them on the ballot and postpone the election a month until January 9th with a runoff to be held January 16, 1980 in instances where no candidate received 50 percent plus one of the vote.

Davis held a strong organizational advantage because the shop stewards in each location were largely backing him, whereas other candidates struggled to identify workers trusted by co-workers in each location who could push their candidacy.

Things started off badly for Davis on election day. When the polls opened at 6 a.m. workers at Southeastern gathered in a group of about 20 and shouted “Davis and Richmond have to go” in front of dozens of other operators. There was no response from Davis supporters.

When the polls closed at 6:00 p.m. the results were brought to the union hall on New Jersey Avenue and Davis still had some hope. When the results were tallied, Davis led the pack with 977 votes or 31 percent of the vote. Charles Boswell, the substitute for the deceased Scoggins, trailed with 740 or 24 percent of the vote.

Under the union’s bylaws at that time it meant a run-off would be held the following week. Things didn’t start out on election day much better for Davis. At Northern Division, a member of Davis’s ticket, Harvey Lee, quit handing out his literature at 7 a.m. as operators tore up Davis’s palm cards and threw them on the floor. Thereafter Lee only handed out his own cards for the next 11 hours of voting.

When the runoff votes were tallied, Davis actually lost votes. Boswell, with absolutely no union experience, handily defeated him 2196-969.

Richmond, a relatively young and bright rising star, was tarnished by his close association with Davis and lost his election as Secretary-Treasurer as well by a 2-1 margin to another rank-and-file member who never held any union office–not even shop steward.

Congratulations to first black ATU 689 recording secretary: 1977

International ATU VP Walter Bierwagen congratulates James “Tommy” Thomas, Jr. in January 1977 on his election as recording secretary.

The only top officer candidate who survived the tidal wave was Recording Secretary James M. Thomas Jr.

During his 3-year term as the recording secretary, Thomas fielded phone calls from members and worked to solve their problems over the phone. He also made regular visits to work locations before and after his office hours at the union hall.  Further, Thomas was politically active in his home state of Virginia. He would go on to win five terms as president from 1983 to 1997.

During the 1980 election, two Action Caucus members won board seats and Metro C.A.R. won one board seat out of the 15 seats available. Allies of the Action Caucus on the Unity Slate, formed to support Tucker’s candidacy, won two of the top five positions: secretary-treasurer and second vice president and also won two additional board seats.

Metro Workers Rank and File Action Caucus – 1978-80

Action Caucus members running for shop steward in 1980.

Action Caucus members would play key roles in the union in the years to come. Maurice Waller served as shop steward/executive board member from Northern Division for about 10 years; Phillip Mayo served as shop steward/executive board member from Montgomery Division for three terms, and also as an appointed business agent; Harold Hume served as shop steward from Bladensburg Shop for two terms; James Bynum served as shop steward from both the maintenance department and later among station managers, and as 2nd vice president. Craig Simpson was elected to four terms as shop steward/board member at Northern Division, serving for about 10 ½ years, as an appointed business agent for 4 ½ of those years, and as financial secretary-treasurer for about 7 ½ years.

Mike Golash from the Metro C.A.R. caucus served as shop steward/executive board member from Northern Division, financial secretary-treasurer, and as president. Gary Young served as a shop steward/executive board member for maintenance.

Afterward

Two union presidents at new transit hall: 1990

James M. “Tommy” Thomas, Jr. (left) and James “Jimmy” LaSala outside the Local 689 headquarters under construction in 1989.

Davis retired after his defeat, living in Hyattsville, Md. He remained active with the Local 689 retirees group, ultimately being elected president. However he remained bitter about his defeat and felt betrayed by those around him and refused to entertain any talk of union politics thereafter.

He is believed to have died sometime in the late 1990s without fanfare.

Richmond made a comeback. He went back to work as a bus operator at Bladensburg garage and rebuilt his base. He ran for president of the union in December 1982 against Boswell but both were defeated by James M. Thomas Jr.

Congrats to First DC Transit Union African American Officer: 1974

Rodney Richmond becomes the first black full-time Local 689 officer in 1973. Here he is shaking hands with former president and then international Vice President Walter Bierwagen at the 689 officers’ installation.

However, Richmond had support at Bladensburg and a few other locations. Instead of continuing to try to run for a top office, Richmond went back and ran for shop steward/executive board member at Bladensburg in the following election and won.

He was poised to run against Thomas again for president, but Thomas instead obtained the support of ATU International President James LaSala and offered Richmond an International vice president position. Richmond accepted and was elected at the convention that followed.

He continued to serve as ATU International vice president until his retirement and in 2020 lives in New Orleans, LA.

Davis’ replacement Charles Boswell, who had no previous union experience, was a fish out of water and struggled throughout his three-year term.

Boswell had never been late to work in his career nor received a disciplinary violation and as a result was insensitive to disciplinary issues. He was unable to relate to the new workers who had defiant attitudes toward management.

Boswell compounded his problems by appointing people with little to no union experience to key positions.

He too tried to run the union from the office and met with the same fate as Davis. Thomas, the sole survivor of the Davis-Richmond era, defeated Boswell handily for president in December, 1982. Thomas went on to serve for 15 years as the union’s first black president.

Discussion

Transit union thanks riders for accepting exact fare: 1968

An advertisement in the Washington Post signed by George Apperson thanking the public for accepting exact fare and political and religious leaders for their help in settling the issue.

It was almost pre-ordained for things to end badly for George Davis. He campaigned against his predecessor George Apperson for spending too much time on politics.

From the beginning, he failed to understand that the new Metro was composed of political representatives from Washington, D.C. and the surrounding counties and engaging in politics was paramount.

Even in the days of private companies, politics were overriding—the union settled a two-month 1955 strike and forced owner Louis Wolfson to sell the company by engaging in political action.

The political pressure after the murder of operator James Talley in 1968 forced the D.C. Transit Company to adopt exact fare—the first company in the nation to do so.

Davis’s predecessor Apperson also used political pressure in 1970 to force D.C. Transit owner O. Roy Chalk to bring his payments to the workers’ pension plan up to date.

It’s not that Davis failed to engage in any political activity. He regularly attended hearings on anti-union bills and testified. Bierwagen would accompany him to meet with pro-labor legislators whom he expected to carry the ball for the union, though they had many other issues to deal with. Davis would also dole out some political donations at election time.

But this minimal level of activity was insufficient for the forces arrayed against him and he did not rise to the challenge.

Union head calls strike vote over missed pension payments: 1970

George Apperson, Local 689 president 1964-73.

Davis also compounded his initial error of eschewing intense political action by failing to learn the lessons of the strike he led in 1974 and the slow-down he led in 1975. Both of those direct action work stoppages resulted in victory for the union, but Davis rejected the tactic (or even threatening them) thereafter.

The authorities condemn the use of illegal strikes and other direct action tactics and utilize the courts to try to break them. But many workers see labor laws as unjust and favoring the employers and don’t feel bound to obey them. Attempting to defend workers’ rights solely by using legal means often leads to defeat.

Davis’s rejection of outlawed tactics after 1975 would haunt him in 1978 when without his leadership the rank and file staged two strikes that led to improvements in safety and a payment of the cost-of-living clause under the “undisturbed” language of the contract.

He made a major error in judgment when he failed to attempt to organize the Ride On workers at an early juncture. Workers in the region are plagued 45 years later with substandard wages and benefits on transit operated by every jurisdiction that makes up the WMATA service area.

The issue of making concessions in union contracts is controversial among the members. However, it’s really a matter of fighting the company with all the tools at your disposal—direct action, mobilization of members, political involvement, lobbying, public relations, organizing—before making decisions about tactical moves in contract negotiations.

If you are able to defeat the company’s or others’ adverse action, so be it. However, if the forces against you are stronger than yours, then concessions may be necessary to preserve the bargaining unit as a fighting force and live to fight another day.

Transit union president George R. Davis: 1979

George Davis at WMATA headquarters in 1979.

The problem with Davis’s actions is that he did not use all the tools at his disposal to fight the company, the political attacks and the threat of non-union bus companies. Nor did he have fortitude to make concessionary agreements to forestall hostile action against the union and risk rank-and-file ire. It was the worst of both worlds.

He might have personally survived these major errors as president for a bit longer if he had made his case to the rank and file with regular visits to work locations.

Davis didn’t understand the changes in the workforce that were taking place. Workers in the 1970s were radicalized by the experiences of the 1960s and Davis was far removed from those struggles.

But by his own admission, he rarely spent time talking to the members where they worked. Perhaps if he had, he might have gained greater insight into their thinking and altered his own decision-making. You can’t lead union members from the union office.

It was somewhat of a tragedy for a man who spent his life trying to better the lot of workers but who ended up on the wrong side of the fight. But he repeatedly made bad choices and paid the price.

Local 689 revives the strike tactic after 40 years: 2019

Workers on strike against the substandard wages and benefits of a private Metrobus contractor in 2019.

The union revived the strike tactic in 2018-19 by staging a series of mini-job actions, primarily against Metro’s refusal to seriously negotiate over disciplinary policies. These actions culminated in a strike vote by the whole membership, after which WMATA began to engage in serious negotiations.

The transit union today is confronting head-on the challenges that privatization of transit in the area brought. A strike at Metro’s privatized Cinder Bed Road division led Metro to agree to bring the work back in-house and cancel plans to privatize the Dulles Metrorail yard.

ATU ultimately engaged in organizing the private companies in the jurisdictions that make up Metro, staging a strike in 2019 at three Fairfax Connector garages. They have organized D.C. streetcar and Circulator buses and the Alexandria DASH system as well as a number of paratransit companies.

Politics is now part and parcel of ATU Local 689’s activities and they are well known in every jurisdiction, both for lobbying and for electoral work. And Local 689 regularly attempts to turn out members for actions.

Personal Notes

Longtime union activist pushes MoCo minimum wage: 2013

Craig Simpson speaking on behalf of UFCW Local 400 at a Montgomery County, Md. minimum wage rally in 2013.

I was a young headstrong bus operator during Davis’s tenure and was a member at age 25 of the Metro Employees Action Alliance in 1976 and later the Metro Workers Rank and File Action Caucus 1978-80.

I was convinced that Davis was a sellout and the “Davis-Richmond clique” needed to go.

It was the beginning of my political involvement in the union that would result in 18 years on the union executive board beginning in 1983 before I retired in 2001–serving as shop steward/executive board member, appointed business agent and secretary-treasurer of Local 689.

As the years went by I took a more nuanced view of  George Davis.

He was trained in business unionism that emphasized grievance handling and contract negotiation and de-emphasized member mobilization for direct action, political action and organizing.

While he was a dedicated trade unionists and could be proud of the work he did maintaining the cost-of-living clause, obtaining the supplemental rail agreement and integrating the ranks of the top officers of the union, he made too many wrong decisions and failed to use all the tools at his disposal during the period 1974-80.

After I retired from Metro with 27 years of service in early 2001, I went on to do contract work for the Metropolitan Washington Council, AFL-CIO, Progressive Maryland, ATU Local 689 and Maryland Commons. I obtained my degree in labor studies from the National Labor College and I finished my career as executive director of United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 400 from 2013-2016. I now administrate and write blog posts and photo descriptions for the Washington Area Spark websites.

Sources

Sources include documents of the Metro Employees Action Alliance, Metro Workers Rank and File Action Caucus and Metro Committee Against Racism (CAR), Local 689 newsletters, the Washington Post, the Washington Star, and the personal recollections of the author.

Related Blog Posts

The D.C. black liberation movement seen through the life of Reginald H. Booker [January 28, 2020 by Craig G. Simpson] The author takes you through the long activist career of D.C. black nationalist Reginald Booker who led the fight against new freeways in the city, for public takeover of the private D.C. Transit, for building the Metrorail system, for hiring, upgrading and promoting black people in the construction industry and the federal and District of Columbia government. A prominent member of the Black United Front, he also led fights against police brutality among a host of other rights issues.

Strike wave at Washington, D.C.’s Capital Transit: 1945 [May 10, 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: In the midst of a struggle over integration and pent-up wage demands following World War II, transit workers in Washington wage a battle to better their conditions and in the process set the stage to transform their union.

The DC women streetcar operators of World War II [March 20, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: In the midst of a World War II shortage of operators and a campaign by African Americans to integrate the operator ranks, the transit company hires women for the first time to pilot the city’s streetcars and buses.

The fight against Capital Transit’s Jim Crow hiring: 1941-55 [October 14, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: The long struggle to integrate Washington’s Capital Transit Company operator ranks—from World War II to the early years of the modern civil rights movement.

Related Images

ATU 689 officers

Hattie Sheehan

Frances Lewis

O. Roy Chalk

Walter Bierwagen

Group Health: 1959

No fare hike: 1966-72

Exact bus fare: 1968

D.C. streetcar women: 1943-60

Transit strike: 1974

ATU 689 birth: 1916-17

On the job murder at Metro: 1974

ATU Local 689: No Service 1974

Fighting Capital Transit racism: 1941-55

Transit strike: 1955

Transit strike: 1951

Capital Transit strikes; 1945

DC Metro wildcat strikes: 1978

Related documents

White Man’s Road Through Black Man’s Home – 1968

Second Rally to Re-Open the 69 Confiscated NE Homes – June 1969

Smash the 3-Sisters Bridge – Nov. 1969

Victory Celebration of the 3-Sisters Bridge Decision: Oct. 1971

WMATA & union letters ordering striking workers back to work – May 1974

Arbitration award on Metro strike discipline – 1978

Files of the Metro Employees Action Alliance – 1976

WMATA management proposals for contract changes – May 1, 1976

Questions to be asked at the union meeting  – May 18, 1976

Summary of Metro contract proposals circulated to union membership – circa May 22, 1976

Caucus meeting agenda – May 28, 1976

Draft notice to members of Metro’s contract proposals  – circa May 28, 1976

Files of the Metro Workers Rank and File Action Caucus

Action

Vol. 1 No. 1 – Sept. 5, 1978

Vol.1. No. 2 – Oct. 1978

Vol. 1 No. 3 – Nov. 1978

Vol. 1 No. 4 – Jan. 1979

Vol. 1 No. 5 – Jun. 1979

Vol. 1 No. 6 – Aug. 1979

Action Caucus Minutes, flyers and election flyers

Caucus minutes – 7/30/78 – 10/1/78

Turn out for the arbitration hearings flyer – 8/21/78

Report of the Local 689 audit committee – 10/2/79

A vote for Mayo-Waller-Simpson is a vote for change – election flyer 11/79

Elect the Unity Slate platform – 11/79

Letter on the disqualification of Walter Tucker as presidential candidate—11/19/1979

Vote January 9 Mayo-Waller-Simpson—1/9/80

Vote Mayo-Waller-Simpson in the runoff elections—1/16/80

Attend the new officers installation—2/80

Unofficial election results—2/80

Files of the Metro Committee Against Racism (CAR)

Metro C.A.R. – August 1978 ca.

Individuals

30 Jan

Quick links

Annie Lee Moss Halts McCarthy Momentum: 1954

This alphabetical list of links to individuals identified in our photographs is now complete and will be updated as we add new images. Links have been updated as of December 19, 2019. If you find a broken or incorrect link (or other error), please notify us at Washington_area_spark@yahoo.com

A-E

Aaron, Julia, freedom rider
Abbott, Sammie “Sam” Abdullah, social justice and highway opponent leader, mayor of Takoma Park
Abernathy Sr., Rev. Ralph David, here, here, here and here, civil rights and SCLC leader
Abt, John J., here and here, civil rights and labor attorney, chief counsel to the Communist Party USA
Abzug, Bella and here, civil rights attorney, U.S. Representative
Acanfora, Joseph, gay rights activist, Montgomery County teacher fired being gay
Ackerson, Carl, Scottsboro campaign
Ackiss, Thelma D., New Negro Alliance
Adams, Lt. Col. Charity, WWII WAC leader
Adams, Clarence , here, here, here and here, Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Adams, Jane, women’s suffrage, ACLU, Nobel Prize
Adams, Josephine Truslow, American League for Peace and Democracy, supporter of Republican Spain
Ades, Bernard and here, Md. International Labor Defense attorney, Abraham Lincoln Brigade
Agnew, Spiro T. and here, Maryland governor, U.S. Vice President, convicted of tax evasion
Ahmad, Eqbal, here, here and here, Harrisburg 8 defendant
Ajay, Alex, Original Spark and On the Move contributor
Albert, Leo, civil liberties attorney
Albert, Stewart Edward “Stew” and here,Yippie activist and Vietnam War opponent
Alda, Alan, Equal Rights Amendment leader, actor
Alda, Beatrice, Equal Rights Amendment supporter, actress, daughter of Alan Alda
Alda, Elizabeth, Equal Rights Amendment supporter, actress, daughter of Alan Alda
Alda, Eve, Equal Rights Amendment supporter, daughter of Alan Alda
Ali, Muhammad [formerly Cassius Clay], boxer, Nation of Islam, draft resister, Vietnam War opponent
Allen, Donna, Women’s Strike for Peace
Allen Jr., James W. and here, D.C. transit union leader
Allman, George, Bonus Army leader
Alott, Gordon, U.S. SenatorAlmstead, Bobbie, D.C. police first openly gay person
Alpert, Jane Lauren, part of Sam Melville group that bombed corporate targets in New York City
Ament, David, Ku Klux Klan landowner where Maryland rallies were held
Amter, Israel and here, Communist Party leader
Anderson, Marian, singer
Angales, Anna, ex-slave
Anthony, Joanna E., D.C. committee Henry Wallace for President
Apperson, George and here, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 president
Aponte, Sergio B., D.C. Transit operator
Armwood, George, Md. lynching victim
Astor, Nancy, member of British parliament, supporter of Hunger March
Aswell, James B., U.S. Representative, established Jim Crow in House restaurant
Atwood, Col. Harry, New Negro Alliance
Aviles, Pedro and here, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, convicted at sedition trial
Aubrey, John, founder New Negro Alliance
Aulet, Carlos, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, turned state’s evidence at sedition trial
Ault, Paul, Williamsport, Pa. steelworker, Communist Party, Progressive Labor Movement
Ayers, William C. “Bill”, Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Bacall, Lauren, actress, opposed HUAC
Bacon, Leslie, here, and here, Mayday demonstration organizer, questioned in U.S. Capitol bombing
Baddy, Rev. R. H., Md. AME church and civil rights leader
Baez, Joan, folksinger, activist
Bailie, Helen Tufts, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) whistleblower
Baker, Ella Josephine, civil rights leader
Bancroft, Richard, here and here, Cafeteria & Restaurant Workers Union Local 471 president, California judge
Banfield, Gilbert, Howard student, participant in Capitol restaurant desegregation effort
Banks, Carolyn, anti-Klan protester
Banks, Martha, ex-slave
Banks, Samuel L., Black studies educator, community activist
Baraka, Imamu Amiri, black cultural activist
Barber, Lawrence D., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Barry, Marion, black activist, D.C. political leader
Barter, Joseph and here, defied ban on interracial dance
Bates, John, Washington, D.C. civil rights activist
Bates, Ruby, here, here and here, Scottsboro accuser who recanted
Battle, Thadeus and here, D.C. Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteer, Young Communist League, Howard University student
Bayless, John and here, draft resister
Bayless, Leslie, here and here, civil rights activist and draft resister
Beal, Alfred, child who integrated Glen Echo Amusement Park
Beam, Harry, worker at Celanese plant
Beck, Chloeann, D.C. voting rights activist
Beck, James M., U.S. Representative, opponent of House Jim Crow
Beirne, Joseph, National Federation of Telephone Employees and Communication Workers of America leader
Belafonte, Harry and here, singer, songwriter, actor, civil rights activist
Belgrad, Herbert J., Prince George’s AFSCME union attorney
Bell, Otto G., Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Bellecourt, Vernon, American Indian Movement leader
Belton, Ethel and here, plaintiff in Belton v. Gebhart school desegregation case
Bender, George H., U.S. Representative, poll tax opponenet
Benjamin, Herbert, here, here and here, Hunger March leader, Workers Alliance leader
Bennett, [first name unknown], Washington Traffic Bureau, Bonus Army
Bentley, Elizabeth, U.S. Communist Party, Soviet spy, defected to U.S.
Bentz, Joe and here, University of Maryland College Park activist
Berger, Louis, International Labor Defense
Berkeley, Elizabeth and here, ex-slave
Berlet, Dorothy, among first women bus operator trainees
Berman, W. R., sought to assist settling transit strike
Bernstein, Carl, Washington Post journalist
Berong, Sam, /national transit union leader
Berrigan, Daniel, Catholic antiwar and anti-nuclear activist; early leader of “hit and stay movement”
Berrigan, Jerome “Jerry” and here, antiwar and hit and stay activist
Berrigan, Phillip, Catholic antiwar and anti-nuclear activist; founder of “hit and stay movement”
Bessette, Martha, Northern Virginia communications worker
Bethune, Mary McLeod, National Council of Negro Women and civil rights leader
Bick, Leon and here, civil rights activist
Biddle, Nickolas, first man wounded in Civil War (Baltimore, Md.)
Bierwagen, Walter, D.C. Amalgamated Association of Street Electric Railway and Motor Coach Employees of America Division 689 president, Amalgamated Transit Union International vice president
Bigelow, Jonathan G., D.C. transit union leader
Bilbo, Theodore and here, U.S. Senator from Mississippi, member of Ku Klux Klan
Binh, Nguyen Thi “Madame”, chief delegate from the Provisional Revolutionary Government of (South) Vietnam to Paris Peace talks
Bishop, Gardner, D.C. civil rights leader
Bissell, Judith E., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Blake, William E., Howard student, participant in Capitol restaurant desegregation effort
Blanton, Thomas, US Representative from Texas, opponent of integration
Blinken, S. M., National Maritime Union leader
Bloch, Emanuel, civil liberties attorney, defended Rosenbergs
Bloom, Sol, U.S. Reprewentative
Bloom, Hillarie, Mayflower Hotel striker
Bloor, Ella Reeve “Mother” Omholt and here, Communist Party labor leader
Blumberg, Dr. Albert, here, here, here and here , Maryland-D.C. Communist Party leaderr
Blumberg, Dorothy Rose, here, and here , Maryland Communist Party
Bobo, Lynn , child participant in the Longest Walk
Boddanoff, Anna, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Bogard, Ronald, attorney, sued Georgetown Unive3rsity for discrimination against gay people
Bogart, Humphrey, film and stage actor, opposed HUAC
Boggs, Martha, Washington Telephone Traffic Union striking member
Bolling, Sarah, mother of the lead plaintiff Spottswood in D.C. Bolling v. Sharpe school desegregation case
Bolling, Spottswood, here, here, here and here, D.C. Bolling v. Sharpe school desegregation case
Bonnilla, C., Washington, D.C. police officer
Bonosky, Phillip, D.C. Workers Alliance
Bookbinder, Hyman and here, AFL-CIO, American Jewish Committee, civil rights activist
Booker, Reginald, DC antiwar activist and Emergency Committee on Transportation Crisis leader
Bostick, Norvel, Vietnam Veterans Against the War
Boswell, Leora, Washington Telephone Traffic Union striking member
Boudin, Kathy, Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Boudin, Leonard and here, civil liberties attorney
Bowles, Bryant, Md. White supremacist leader
Bowman, Addison, civil liberties attorney
Bowman, Jerry, son of R. B. Bowman, Workers Ex-Servicemens’ League
Bowman, R. B., Workers Ex-Servicemens’ League
Boyd Jr., Henry Allen, Howard student, participant in Capitol restaurant desegregation effort
Bradley, Lillian T.., District of Columbia voter
Branch, Julian O., New Negro Alliance
Brando, Marlon, actor, Native American rights activist
Bransome, Michael, here, here and here, draft resister
Braverman, Maurice L. and here and here, Maryland Communist Party, social justice attorney, imprisoned
Bremer, Arthur and here, attempted assassin of George Wallace
Brice, Carol and here, contralto
Brice, Mary, D.C. civil rights activist
Bricker, William “Bill”, D.C. gay activist
Briggs, Harry Jr. and here, plaintiff in Briggs v. Elliot school desegregation case
Briscoe, Edith (a.k.a. Brisker, Chappa, Villastrigo and here, Young Communist League, Communist Party, Women’s Strike for Peace
Brisker, Luba, D.C. Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteer
Bromfield, Louis, author, supporter of Republican Spain
Broadwater, J. A. B., here, here, here and here, Capital Transit official
Bromley, Bruce, attorney for the U.S. House of Representatives
Bronson, C. Dana, abortion rights activist
Brook, J. G., D.C. transit union strike leader
Brooks, Rev. R. W., Congregational minister and D.C. civil rights leader
Brooks, Rev. Robert, Lincoln Temple church, progressive minister
Brophy, John, here and here, United Mine Workers and CIO leader
Browder, Earl, chair of Communist Party USA
Brown, Elaine, Black Panther Party leader; educator
Brown, Ernest W. and here, D.C. police chief
Brown, Hubert “Rap” (Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin), black liberation and SNCC leader
Brown, Linda and here, plaintiff in Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation case
Brown, Minnie Jean, Little Rock 9
Brown, Ken, Maryland civil rights activist
Brown, Rita Mae, feminist, author, The Furies
Brown Jr., Sam W., National Student Association, Vietnam Moratorium, ACTION
Brown, Sterling, poet, chair of English Dept. Howard University
Brown, William, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Brownell, Herbert, U.S. Attorney General
Broyles, Melvin, here and here, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 activist
Bruce, Louis and here, Bureau of Indian Affairs commissioner
Bruce, William H., Howard student, participant in Capitol restaurant desegregation effort
Bryan, John., D.C. transit union activist
Bryant, Ruth, congressional committee clerk
Buchanan, Thomas G., Washington Star journalist blacklisted, Civil Rights Congress, JFK conspiracy theorist
Buck, Jessica, instructor at union sponsored federal workers school
Buckle, Leon, Md. National Guardsman
Bucklew, M. O., Capital Transit worker
Buckley, Irving M., D.C. Transit official
Bukes, Peter, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 member
Bullard, Eugene”, black veteran beaten during Peekskill riot
Bullock, Mette, Washington Telephone Traffic Union striker
Bunche, Dr. Ralph Johnson and here, Nobel Peace Prize winner and civil rights leader
Burgess, Lillie and here, caregiver for labor leader Mother Jones in her later years
Burlak, Anne and here, labor leader, Communist Party
Burns, Paul, Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade leader
Burts, Alice, Bureau of Engraving, United Public Workers Local 3
Bush, Sgt. Scott L., Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Butler, J. Godfrey, D.C. Transit and WMATA official
Butler, Leonard, D.C. child who met Coretta Scott King
Butler, Lloyd, striking Teamster Union member
Butz, Timothy “Tim” and here, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Counterspy magazine
Byers, Rufus, manager of the Lincoln Theater
Bykowski, Edward and here, World War II vet who led demonstrations against Klan Sen. Theodore Bilbo
Bynum, Herbert “Herb”, here and here, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 Recording Secretary
Bynum, James, D.C. transit union activist
Byrd, Mabel J. and here, civil rights activist
Cagle, Lewis Jr., inmate, murdered Red Scare target William Remington
Calderhead, Garth W., Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 leader
Caldwell, Lawrence D., radical bank robber and cop killer
Callis, Rev. J. H., Parents League
Camper, John E. T., physician, NAACP, Progressive Party, civil rights leader
Canfield, W. H., Navy Yard worker, organized against wage cuts
Canfora, Alan, antiwar leader, wounded during Kent State University shootings
Carey, James, CIO secretary treasurer
Carlson, Eric, slain Bonus Army marcher
Carmichael, Stokely (Kwame Ture), civil rights, black liberation, SNCC, All African People’s Revolutionary Party leader
Carawan, Guy, folksinger, Highlander Research and Education Center
Carroll, Molly and here, Irish independence supporter, dropped leaflets on White House from airplane
Carrozza, Carroll, anti-Klan protester
Carter, Celestine, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Carter, John, D.C. police brutality victim
Carter, Robert L., NAACP General Counsel; judge
Casel, Jerry, American Civil Liberties Union
Case, Clifford, and here, U.S. Senator
Casey, Joseph, U.S. Representative, HUAC
Cash, Rev. Addison, Princess Anne, Md. civil rights leader
Cassell, Charles, D.C. anti-freeway, anti-war, Statehood Party leader; D.C. School Board
Castro, Fidel Alejandro, Cuban communist leader
Castro, Santiago Gonzalez, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, convicted of sedition
Chalk, Claire and here, D.C. Transit official
Chalk, O. Roy, D.C. Transit owner
Champ, Bennett Clark, U.S. Senator
Chancey, Martin, D.C. Communist Party leader
Chandler, Len, singer, activist
Chandler, William C., represented William W. Remington
Chapman, Oscar, asst. secretary of Interior
Chennault, Anna, informal U.S. ambassador to South Vietnam, likely CIA agent
Childs, James C., D.C. Red Caps union
Claiborne, Louis F., attorney in U.S. Solicitor General office
Clapp, Peter W., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Clark, Dudley, Howard student, participant in Capitol restaurant desegregation effort
Clark, Kenneth Bancroft and here, sociologist and civil rights leader
Clark, Mamie Phipps, sociologist
Clark, Marvin and here, D.C. transit union activist
Clark, Phillip, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Clark, Ramsey, U.S. Attorney General, civil liberties attorney
Cleaver, Eldridge and here, Black Panther leader
Clemons, Mansfield, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 activist
Cleve, Harry Van, General Services Administration
Cleveland, John H., D.C. Teamsters Union Local 730, International Teamsters vice president
Coale, Ennis, opposed mandatory ROTC at U. of Md.
Cobb, Edna and here, Capital Transit streetcar operator
Cobb, James A., civil liberties attorney, prosecutor, judge
Cobb, William Montague, physician; Inhotep
Cobbs, Lillie, Bureau of Engraving, United Public Workers Local 3
Cochran, John J., U.S. Representative from Missouri, opponent of integration
Coffin, William Sloane, , Yale chaplain; anti-Vietnam War leader
Cohn, Sol and here, International Labor Defense, Communist Party, Civil Rights Congress, attorney
Coleman, Frank J., D.C. Central Labor Union leader
Collick, Lillian Blake, attempted lynching victim
Collick, Martha, attempted lynching victim
Collazo, Oscar, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, attempted assassination of Truman
Collazo, Rosa Cortez and here, Puerto Rican National Party, wife of attempted assassin Oscar Collazo, convicted of sedition
Collins, Francis, Deputy sheriff who arrested civil rights activists at Glen Echo Amusement Park
Collins, Tom, DC telephone union leader
Colman, Louis, International Labor Defense
Comer, Gordon C., Levitt Company representative, refused to sell homes to black people
Compton, Mary, one of D.C.’s first all-woman jury
Condron, Andrew, here, here, here, and here, Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Conte, Richard, actor, opposed HUAC
Cook, Howard, executive director, Black Employees of the Library of Congress
Cookman, J. H., D.C. transit union leader
Coolidge, Calvin, here and here, U.S. president
Coolidge, Grace Anne Goodhue and here, wife of U.S. President Calvin Coolidge
Cooper, Ralph, Trenton 6 defendant
Copeland, Royal, U.S. Senator, discouraged integration of Senate restaurant
Corden, Sgt. Richard G. and here, Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Cordero Andres Figueroa, here, here and here, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, attempted assassin
Costello, Catherine A., one of D.C.’s first all-woman jury
Couming, Paul and here, refused to testify in Harrisburg 8 case
Cousins, Calvin, D.C. laundry workers union leader, Communist Party
Couth, Gwendolyn T., Bureau of Engraving, United Public Workers Local 3
Covell, Howard V., D.C. police captain
Covington, Harold, Howard student, waiter and participant in Capitol restaurant desegregation effort
Cowan, Nathan, Congress of Industrial Organizations
Cowart, Cpl. William and here, Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Cox, C. H., D.C. Transit bus operator
Cox, Donald, Black Panther Party leader
Cox, Edward, Republican Party, husband of Tricia Nixon
Cox, James P., Catholic priest, anti-communist unemployed leader
Cox, Pearlie, columnist Washington Afro American
Cox, Tricia Nixon, Richard Nixon foundation, daughter of President Richard Nixon, wife of Edward Cox
Coxey Sr., Jacob Sechler, leader of unemployed, politician
Cross, Bill, Trail of Broken Treaties
Crow, John, Bureau of Indian Affairs spokesperson
Cullen, Marc, here, here, here, here and here, U. of Md. student beaten by police
Curran, Charles E., Catholic priest who favored birth control
Curran, Joseph, National Maritime Union leader
Curry, John W., D.C.’s first black postal worker, possibly first in the nation
Cushman, Bernard, here, and here , Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 attorney
Dabney, Gertrude, one of D.C.’s first all-woman jury
Dahl, Leif and here, United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing & Allied Workers of America, CIO
Dalglesh, R. H., chief engineer, Capital Transit Co.
Damato, Edward “Ed”, Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW)
Damon, Anna and here, International Labor Defense and Communist Party leader
Dane, Barbara, singer; activist
Daniel, Theodora, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Danielle, Debbie, Community for Creative Non-Violence
Danzansky, Joseph B., chief negotiator of D.C. grocery employers, principal owner of Giant Food
Darrow, Clarence, prominent attorney
Davenport, Bonnie, D.C. police first openly transgender person
Davidson, Eugene, D.C. New Negro Alliance, D.C. NAACP
Davidson, Tom, antiwar activist
Davidson, William, antiwar activist
Davis, Angela Yvonne, black and women’s liberation leader, Communist Party and Committees of Correspondence leader
Davis, Benjamin “Big Ben” Jefferson and here, Communist Party leader, New York City Council member, attorney/a>
Davis, Dorothy, plaintiff in Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County school desegregation case
Davis, George, here, here and here, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 president
Davis, Green, white family killed by Euel Lee in wage dispute
Davis, Ivy, white family killed by Euel Lee in wage dispute
Davis, John “P.” Preston, National Negro Congress, Our World magazine, D.C. school desegregation
Davis, Michael, D.C. school desegregation, journalist
Davis, Montgomery, Washington transit horse car veteran
Davis, Ossie, actor, civil rights activist
Davis, Rennard Cordon “Rennie”, anti-Vietnam War leader, Guru Maharaj Ji
Davis, Roy V., Capital Transit bus operator
Davis, Sol Gareth “Garry” and here, World Government of World Citizens, World Service Authority
Deak, Eleanor, Red Scare victim who won reinstatement
Debs, Eugene, American Railway Union, Socialist Party candidate for President
Debs, Theodore , brother of Socialist Party candidate for President Eugene Debs
DeCesare, Rev. Anthony , civil rights activist
Delaney, Robert, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 leader
Delhome, Albert D., Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Dellinger, Dave , here and here, pacifist, antiwar leader, Chicago 8 defendant
Dellums, Ronald, U.S. Representative
De Marrias, Keith, here, here and here, Longest Walk participant
Demond, A. L., New Negro Alliance
Denham, Robert N., NLRB general counsel
Dennis, David, freedom rider
Denny, George V., moderator, Town Hall of the Air
De Priest, Oscar Stanton, here and here, U.S. Representative from Illinois, sole black congressman 1929-34
Detzer, Dorothy, here and here, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and D.C. civil rights leader
De Vorr, E. J., circulation manager Washington Star
Diamond, Dion, Non-Violent Action Group, D.C. civil rights leader
Dickstein, Samuel, U.S. Representative
Dies, Martin, U.S. Representative, HUAC
Dietrich, John Paul, here and here, Non-Violent Action Group actvist, civil rights activist
Diggs, Charles C., U.S. Representative, picketed Glen Echo
Digia, Ralph, anti-nuclear activist
Dillingham, J. Brinton “Brint”, social justice advocate, confrontation politics
Dillingham, John, social justice advocate, attorney
Dillingham Jr., Ms. William Henry [first name unknown], and here, social justice activist, mother of Brint and John
Dix, Carl., here and here, Fort Lewis 6, Revolutionary Communist Party
Doak, William N. and here, U.S. secretary of labor
Dodie, Isola, women’s rights activist
Doerfier, Raymond, Ku Klux Klan
Dohrn, Bernardine R., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Donnelly, Elizabeth, Trade Union Unity League activist
Donohoo, Robert W., federal mediator
Donohue, F. Joseph., attorney for four Puerto Ricans nationalists
Donovan, John L. and here, D.C. labor leader at Commerce Department
Diamond, Dion , D.C. area civil rights leader
Donohoo, Robert. W., federal mediator
Dorsey, Emmett, Howard University, civil rights activist
Dougherty, Dave and here, University of Maryland College Park activist
Douglas, Helen Gahagan, U.S. Representative
Douglas, Leslie, daughter of Progressive Party candidate for President Henry Wallace
Douglas, Sgt. Rufus D., Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Douglass, Anna Murray, abolitionist and wife of Frederick Douglass
Douglass, Frederick, ex-slave, abolitionist and black rights leader, DC Recorder of Deeds
Douglass, Helen Pitts, civil rights and women’s rights, second wife of Frederick Douglass
Douty, Robert, D.C. transit union activist
Drakins, Maury, D.C. transit veteran
Drew, Rev. Simon P. W.and here, sponsor of D.C. ex-slave convention, vice presidential candidate
Du Bois, Shirley Graham, Musicologist, playwright, novelist and political activist; wife of W. E. B. Du Bois
Du Bois, William Edward Burghardt “W. E. B.”, NAACP and civil rights leader
Dudley, Martha W., D.C. League of Women Shoppers, civil rights activist
Duffy, Mary, M., Irish independence supporter
Duncan, Todd, actor, singer, civil rights activist
Dundon, James, Textile Workers of America, Celanese plant
Dunkel, Gregory and here, mathematics professor, University of Maryland anti-Vietnam War leader
Dunn, John R., here, here, and here, Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Durr, Clifford Judkins, New Deal Democrat, National Lawyers Guild leader, civil rights attorney
Durr, Virginia Foster, Southern Conference for Human Welfare, Progressive Party, civil rights activist
Dyer, Leonidas, U.S. Representative, sponosor of anti-lynching bill
Eaton, Charles, U.S. Representative
Eckford, Elizabeth, Little Rock 9
Edmonson, Gladys, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Edwards, R. K., DC telephone union leader
Edwards, Xavier and here, Interstate Ku Klux Klan imperial wizard
Eicher, Walter, Workers Ex-Servicemen’s League, Bonus Army
Einstein, Hans Albert, lynching foe, son of scientist Albert Einstein
Eisenhower, David, history professor, husband of Julie Nixon Eisenhower, son of President Dwight Eisenhower
Eisenhower, Dwight “Ike”, Commander of Allied forces in Europe WWII; U.S. President
Eisenhower, Julie Nixon, Richard Nixon foundation, daughter of President Richard Nixon, wife of David Eisenhower
Elgin, Riley, chair, D.C. Public Utilities Commission
Elkins, Wilson Homer “Bull”, University of Maryland president
Elmes, Rev. Arthur F., D.C. civil rights activist
Elrich, Marc and here, student activist, Montgomery County council, executive
Emerson, Ralph, National Maritime Union leader
English, Collis, Trenton 6 defendant
Epton Jr., William Leo “Bill”, Harlem Progressive Labor Party leader
Eckstein, Ernestein, early black lesbian rights activist
Escute, Esteban Quinones and here, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, convicted of sedition
Evans, Ahmed (Fred), black nationalist, imprisoned for life
Evans, Dr. Hiram W., Imperial Wizard, Ku Klux Klan
Evans, Sonja , anti-draft activist
Evans, Viola , Longest Walk (1978) participant
Ewell, Ailene, leader Washington Council of Negro Women

F-J

Farley, Jasper J., D.C. transit union activist
Farrar, Leonard C., National Forum Association, DC civil rights activist
Fauntroy, Rev. Walter, here, here, here and here, civil rights activist, D.C. Delegate to Congress
Fawcett, Maxine, Maryland Ku Klux Klan, bride in Klan wedding
Fehsenfeld, Robert and here Cambridge, Md. white supremacist
Felder, Edward, D.C. Young Communist League, D.C. Communist Party USA
Ferraro, Bob and here, University of Maryland College Park activist
Ferrell, Frank J., African American Knights of Labor leader
Ferrick, Mary, Irish independence supporter
Fesperman, Bill, Patriot Party leader
Fialani, Domenick, Young Communist League leader
Finwick, Ernest, D.C. Red Caps union
Field, Frederick Vanderbilt, Civil Rights Congress leader
Finley, Max , D.C. polling place clerk
Finney, Nathaniel, transit union member
Firestone, Shulamith, feminist
Fisher, Ovie Clark, U.S. Representative, opponent of cafeteria workers
Flatley, Judith A., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Flaxer, Abram, United Federal Workers, United Public Workers leader
Fleming, Phillip, Federal Works Administration administrator
Fletcher, A. B., Navy Yard worker, organized against wage cuts
Fliegelman, Ronald D., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Flowers, Warren and here, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 activist
Floyd, Pauline, women’s rights, first woman admitted before Supreme court
Fluharty, George T., Capital Transit barn foreman
Flynn, Elizabeth Gurley , Industrial Workers of the World, American Civil Liberties Union, Communist Party chair, jailed
Fonda, Jane, actress, anti-Vietnam War activist
Ford, James W. “Jim”, here, here and here, Communist Party candidate for U.S. Vice President
Forer, Joseph, here, here and here, D.C. civil liberties attorney
Forrest, McKinley, Trenton 6 defendant
Fortuna, Sgt. Andrew, here and here, Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Foster, William Z., labor and Communist Party USA leader
Foushee, Thomas, D.C. transit union activist
Fox, Brad, antiwar activist, Youth International Party
Fox, Morris, here, here and here, D.C. Transit executive
Fox, Richard , U. of Md. antiwar activist
Foy, Rev. James D., D.C. Methodist church and civil rights leader
Frankfeld, Phillip and here and here, Maryland Communist Party leader, imprisoned
Frankfeld, Regina and here and here, Maryland Communist Party leader, imprisoned
Fraser, J. M., original 1866 Ku Klux Klan member, member in second iteration of the Ku Klux Klan
Frazier, E. Franklin, sociologist, civil rights activist
Friedan, Betty and here, author, women’s rights leader
Friedman, Daniel M., second assistant U.S. Solicitor General
Froines, John, antiwar activist, Chicago 8 defendant
Fuerst, John A., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Fuller, Elaine and here, D.C. antiwar activist, Committee of Returned Volunteers
Furman, Gertrude, one of D.C.’s first all-woman jury
Gannon, Mary, D.C. labor leader
Gandia, Julio Pinto, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party leader, convicted of sedition
Gardner, Frazier, Disabled Veterans Ernie Pyle chapter
Gardner, William L., refused to testify in Harrisburg 8 case
Garner, Helen and here, civil rights activist
Garner, John Nance and here, Speaker of the House, Vice-President, supporter of Jim Crow
Garrett, A. Sheridan and here, Irish independence supporter
Garrett, Laura M., one of D.C.’s first all-woman jury
Gary, Enoch B., Md. state police superintendent
Gee, Sylvia, here, here, here and here, Black Employees of the Library of Congress
Gellert, Hugo and here, Anti-Horthy League, artist
Gelston, George M., here and here, Md. National Guard commander during Cambridge crisis
Gerber, E. B., Capital Transit investor
Germina, Major, Abraham Lincoln Brigade
Gibson, Joel L. and here, D.C. civil rights activist, Emergency Committee on the Transportation Crisis
Gibson, John, Asst. Secretary of Labor
Giddings, E. Cleveland, here, here, here and here, Capital Transit executiveGilbert, David J., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground, Revolutionary Armed Forces Task Force
Gilbert, Ronnie, The Weavers, singer
Giles, James, here and here, Md. man falsely convicted of raping white woman
Giles, John, here and here, Md. man falsely convicted of raping white woman
Gilman, Elisabeth, Maryland Socialist Party leader
Gilmore, Margaret and here, United Public Workers leader, Bureau of Engraving, D.C. civil rights leader
Gittings, Barbara and here, lesbian rights activist
Glick, John “Ted” , here, here and here, SDS, Harrisburg 8 defendant—case severed from others
Glover, Ron, Maryland Ku Klux Klan leader
Goldberg, Lt. Joshua L., Jewish Navy chaplain
Goldman, Emma, American anarchist
Gompers, Samuel, American Federation of Labor leader
Goodrick, Richard, federal labor conciliator
Goodman, Phillip, D.C. anti-freeway activist
Gordon, James, black child refused admittance to Kentucky schools
Gordon, Jerry, National Peace Action Coalition leader
Gordon, Teresa, black child refused admittance to Kentucky schools
Gorman, Francis, United Textile Workers union leader
Gormely, James J., Amalgamated Transit Union representative
Gorsuch, Dickinson and here, son of Maryland slave owner Edward Gorsuch, wounded during Christiana incident
Gorsuch, Edward and here, Maryland slave owner, slain during Christiana incident
Graham, Rev. Billy, conservative evangilist
Grant III, Ulysses S., National Park & Planning Commission, Government Services, Inc., opponent of cafeteria workers
Gray, Rev. Arthur D. and here, D.C. National Negro Congress president, D.C. NAACP president
Gray, Catherine, New Negro Alliance
Grayson, Francis DeSales and here, Martinsville 7, executed
Grayson, Sarah, first known D.C. black or black female bus operator
Green, Abner, American Committee for the Protection of the Foreign Born leader
Greene (later Britt), Gwendolyn, D.C. area civil rights activist, Maryland state senator
Green, J. E., Salt Lake City transit union leader
Green, James., Free Euel Lee campaign
Green, Robert A., U.S. Representative from Florida, opponent of integration
Green, William, here and here, AFL labor leader
Greene Jr., Ralph Waldo “Petey”, community organizer, D.C. radio and TV host
Greenblatt, Robert and here, anti-Vietnam War leader
Greenleaf, Robert Webster, D.C. Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteer, killed in action
Greer, Steven “Nick”, George Washington University Students for Democratic Society leader
Gregory, Richard “Dick” Claxton, here, here and here, comedian, civil rights and peace activist
Gregory, Karl D., Levitt refused to sell Bowie, Md. home to him
Gresham, William L., D.C. Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteer
Griffin, William L., civil rights activist arrested at Glen Echo Amusement Park
Griggs, Sgt. Lowie and here, Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Grimke, Rev. Francis, Presbyterian minister and civil rights activist
Grinnell, Charles and here, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 Recording Secretary
Groppi, James, here and here, civil rights and anti-Vietnam War leader
Groves, Eugene and here, National Student Association
Gruening, Ernest and here, U.S. Senator
Guiles, Rev. R. E. and here, DC AME church and civil rights leader
Gumbo, Judy Clavir (last name Albert) and here, Yippie and Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell activist
Gurge, Harold, striking Brotherhood of Railway Signalmen member
Guttmann, Rev. Reinhart B., Md. Congress of Racial Equality activist
Haessler, Gertrude and here, labor activist
Haile, Roy Bartee, here, here, here and here, wounded in police shooting that killed People’s Party II leader Carl Hampton; John Brown Revolutionary League
Haggerty, Mary, antiwar activist
Hairston Frank and here, Martinsville 7, executed
Hairston, Howard Lee and here, Martinsville 7, executed
Hairston, James Luther and here, Martinsville 7, executed
Hall, George, interracial dancer
Hall, Gus and here, Communist Party USA chairman
Hall, Ms. John P. (no first name) , anti-nuclear weapons activist
Halpern, Seymour, U.S. Representative, picketed Glen Echo
Hamilton, Julia West and here, Federation of Women’s Clubs, YWCA, National Association of Colored Women, women’s rights and civil rights activist
Hamilton. Col. West A., National Guard, D.C. school board
Hampton, Carl, People’s Party II, slain by police
Hampton, Joe Henry and here, Martinsville 7, executed
Handelsman, Leonard, Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Hannah, R. E. , D.C. transit union leader
Hanway, Castner and here, local man who refused to help slavers during Christiana incident, charged with treason
Hardy, Joan , opposed Japanese imperialism
Hardy, Kenneth, D.C. corrections director
Harper, Solomon, here and here, Communist Party organizer; inventor
Harriman, Florence Jeffrey , former U.S. ambassador to Norway
Harris, Marie Richardson , United Public Workers, National Negro Congress leader, imprisoned
Harris, Wesley [a.k.a. Robert Jackson], escaped slavery
Hart, Gertrude V., one of D.C.’s first all-woman jury
Hart, William Henry Harrison, attorney, founder of the NAACP, civil rights leader
Hartley Jr., Fred A., U.S. Representative, anti-labor activist
Hartzell, Anne, District of Columbia Nurses Association leader
Hastie, William H. , here and here, Governor of the Virgin Islands, federal judge, dean of Howard Law School, civil rights leader
Havoc, June, actress, dancer, writer, and stage director, opposed HUAC
Hawk, David, Vietnam Moratorium Committee
Hayden, Tom, anti-Vietnam War leader; Chicago 8; married to Jane Fonda
Hayes, Denis and here, Earth Day coordinator
Hayes, George E. C., lead attorney Bolling v. Sharpe, Annie Moss and Marie Richardson cases; Public Utilities Commission
Hayes, John W., Knights of Labor leader
Hayes, L. J. W., New Negro Alliance
Hayes, Roland, singer
Hays, Lee and here, The Almanac Singers, The Weavers, singer
Hays, Pati and here, University of Maryland College Park activist
Haywood, Harry, Communist Party, Scottsboro campaign
Haywood, Alan S., Congress of Industrial Organizations
Haywood, William Dudley “Big Bill”, here and here, Socialist Party, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) leader
Headley, Alice, here and here, transit union member
Heberlie, James E., Washington transit veteran
Heckler, Margaret Mary and here, U.S. Representative
Hellerman, Fred, The Weavers, singer
Henderson, Edwin Bancroft “E. B.”, D.C. schools, black basketball, Fairfax Co., Va. NAACP
Henry, Rev. John, D.C. Baptist minister and civil rights activist
Henry, Rev. Laurence G., D.C. area civil rights leader
Henshaw, (first name unknown), here and here, Capital Transit Northern Division superintendent
Herman, Bill, DC telephone union leader
Hershey, Lewis B., U.S. Selective Service director
Herter, Christian, Massachusetts governor, Secretary of State
Hess, Karl, Barry Goldwater speechwriter, New Left figure, Libertarian Party
Hickerson, Harold, Bonus Army leader
Hill, James R., Capital Transit streetcar operator
Hilliard, David, Black Panther Party leader
Hinton, William “Bill”, author, chronicled revolutionary China</a
Hircsh, Barbara, anti-Vietnam War activist</a
Hobson, Julius Wilson, D.C. civil rights activist, D.C. school board and city council member
Hobson, Jr., Julius and here, son of D.C. activist Julius Hobson; candidate for D.C. Council
Hobson, Tina Lower and here, wife of D.C. activist Julius Hobson
Hockenberry, Clint, student who sued Georgetown University for discrimination against gay people
Hodges, Thelma, Capital Transit streetcar operator
Hodgkins, E. R., D.C. transit union strike leader
Hoffman, Abbie Howard, Yippie leadser
Hoffman, Claire, U.S. Representative, opponent of cafeteria workers
Holcombe, Bryce P., D.C. painters’ union leader
Holden, James A. and here, federal mediator
Holmes, Louyco, D.C. Red Caps union
Holtzman, Elizabeth and here, women’s rights activist, U.S. Representative
Homer, R. R., attorney, Parents League
Hopkins, Samuel, helped drive off slavers during Christiana incident
Horne, [no first name—Ms. Samuel H.], D.C. voting rights activist
Hoskins, Samuel, Washington Afro American
Howard, Elbert “Big Man”, here, here, here, here , here and here, Black Panther Party leader
Howard, Michael, steelworkers and cannery workers organizer, Communist Party
Howard, Perry Wilbon, civil rights attorney, Republican national committee from Mississippi
Houston, Charles Hamilton, NAACP, Howard Law School, civil rights attorney
Hoxha, Enver, Albanian communist leader
Hruska, William, Bonus marcher, slain by police
Hubbard, Karen, anti-nuclear weapons activist
Hudgin, Robert, Virginia Ku Klux Klan grand dragon
Hueston, William C., Benevolent Protective Order of the Elks of the World, civil rights activist
Huggins, Ericka, here, here and here, Black Panther Party; educator; jailed two years
Hughes, Christine Ray, aide to U.S. Representatives Mitchell and Dawson
Hughes, Langston and here, Harlem Renaissance poet, writer
Huiswoud, Otto , Communist Party leader
Hull, Cordell, Secretary of State
Hume, Harold, D.C. transit union activist
Hunton, W. Alphaeus, Civil Rights Congress and Council on African Affairs leader
Huston, John, director, screenwriter and actor, opposed HUAC
Hutchins, Paul S., office employees union leader
Hutchinson, G. T., Capital Transit training instructor
Hutchinson, Ralph, anti-nuclear activist
Hutchinson, Robert W., personnel director at the Library of Congress
Ickes, Harold, secretary of Interior
Idol, H. A., sought transit service during strike
Ifshin, David, here, here, here, here and here, National Student Association president, Democratic Party attorney
Ingram, Jimmy, D.C. labor leader
Issac, Frank, Navajo veteran protested discrmination
Jackson, Ms. [no first name] Bowen, Maryland civil rights activist
Jackson, Donald and here, D.C. transit union activist
Jackson, Rev. E. Franklin and here, DC NAACP leader
Jackson, Jesse, civil rights leader, presidential candidate
Jackson, Joseph and here, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 activist
Jackson, Mamie, D.C. Green Guards
href=”https://flic.kr/p/2hX6eo2&#8243; rel=”noreferrer nofollow”>Jackson, Marion H., National Council of Negro Women
Jackson, Mike, here, here and here, University of Maryland College Park activist
Jackson, Regina, D.C. teacher
Jacobs, John G., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Jacobs, Samuel, congressional aide
Jaffee, Naomi E., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Jenison, Alice W., one of D.C.’s first all-woman jury
Jenkins, Noah and here, D.C. transit union activist
Jernigan, William Henry, here and here, pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, civil rights leader
Jimenez, Jorge Luis, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, convicted of sedition
Joel, Super Yippie (last name unknown), Youth International Party
Johnson, Agnes, U.S. Labor Department employee
Johnson, Col. Campbell, U.S. Army, YMCA, civil rights activist</a
Johnson, Claudia Alta “Lady Bird”, First Lady (President Lyndon Johnson)
Johnson, Dale, opponent of Chilean dictatorship, Rutgers professorJohnson, Douglas E., D.C. Red Caps union
Johnson, Harelyn, attempted to desegregate Arlington, Va. schools, daughter of Harold Johnson
Johnson, Harold, Arlington, Va. civil rights activist
Johnson, Harold G., Methodist minister, first black minister in a D.C. area white congregation
Johnson, James Weldon and here, NAACP and civil rights leader
Johnson, Jerome, D.C. civil rights activist
Johnson, Lenore, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Johnson, Lyndon B., here and here, U.S. President
Johnson, Mordecai Wyatt, here, here and here, Howard University president
Johnson, Nelson, Workers Viewpoint Organization, victim of Klan and police attack
Johnson, Rita, attempted to desegregate Arlington, Va. schools, daughter of Harold Johnson
Johnson, Terrence , killed two police officers in Hyattsville jail
Johnson, William S. and here, D.C. cooks union, civil rights activist, Communist Party
Jones, Bessie, Georgia Sea Island Singers
Jones, Claudia, black Communist Party leader, deported
Jones, Edmond L., here and here, Capital Transit attorney
Jones, J. Charles, civil rights leader, ACCESS
Jones, Jeffrey C. “Jeff”, Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Jones, Lenora H., D.C. resident offered herself for execution in place of Sacco and Vanzetti
Jones, Lois M., art teacher, Howard University
Jones, Mary Harris ‘Mother’, labor leader
Jones, R. M., National Maritime Union leader
Jones, William, Howard student, participant in Capitol restaurant desegregation effort
Jones, William N., Afro American journalist
Jordon, David Starr, white supremacist, WWI opponent
Jupiter, Page, victim of attempted lynching, later executed
Justesen, Thomas M., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground

K-O

Kaiser, Henry, Retail Clerks Local 400 attorney
Kameny, Franklin, D.C. and national gay rights leader
Kaslick, Selma, D.C. United Office and Professional Workers, CIO; civil rights activist
Kauffman, Mary, Civil Rights Congress attorney
Kaye, Danny, actor, singer, dancer, comedian, musician, opposed HUAC
Kazana, Imani, civil rights leader
Keech, Richmond B., vice chair, D.C. Public Utilities Commission
Keene, Mary, here, and here, Irish independence supporter
Keith, Earl, Md. state police captain
Keith, Rudolph “Skip” and here, U.S. Air Force, gay rights advocate
Kelly, Edward J. and here, D.C. police commissioner</a
Kelsey, Herb and here, D.C. anti-Vietnam War leader
Kennedy, Robert and here, U.S. Attorney General
Kent, Rockwell, artist, supporter of Republican Spain
Kerr, Marion, D.C. Green Guards
Keyes, Evelyn, actress, opposed HUAC
King, Clarence, Washington Railway & Electric Co. owner
King, Coretta Scott, civil rights leader, wife of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
King Jr., Rev. Dr. Martin Luther, Southern Christian Leadership Conference and civil rights leader
Kirkland, Lane, AFL-CIO president, Group Health Association
Kitt, Eartha and here, singer, actress, dancer, antiwar activist
Klein, Arthur, U.S. Representative, supported D.C. cafeteria workers union
Klein, Norman, arrested in 1st Red Scare
Kleindienst, Richard, Deputy Attorney General
Kline, Henry, deputy marshal during Christiana incident who helped slavers
Knight, J. Lynn and here, D.C. transit union activist
Knutson, Harold, U.S. Representative
Koo, Benjamin, interracial dancer
Koontz, Roger, striking Teamster Union member
Kuden, Dr. Harold , Association of Gay Psychologists
Kuhn, Fritz Julius, German-American Bund leader
Kun, Bella, Hungarian Soviet leader
Kunstler, William, here, here and here, left-wing defense attorney
Kurshan, Nancy, Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (WITCH)
Lacey, Rev. Graham G., D.C. civil rights activist
La Follette, Robert M., Progressive Party, U.S. Senator
La Garde, Dick and here, Longest Walk participant
Landstrum, Else, National Maritime Union activist
Lane, Dr. O. A., Parents League
Lane, Thomas, Brig. General
Lanon, Al , National Maritime Union leader, Communist Party leader
LaRicci, Anthony, Maryland Ku Klux Klan leader
Larose, Tawna Sanchez t, Long Walk for Survival participant
Lasser, David and here, Workers Alliance leader
Lavagnino, Jerry, D.C. Green Guards
Law, Oliver, here and here, first black commander of an integrated American unit, Abraham Lincoln Brigade, killed in action
Lawrence, Thomas J., D.C. Street Protective Railway Union
Lawrence, William “Bill”, here and here, D.C. Communist Party leader
Lawson, Belford Vance, here and here, civil rights attorney, New Negro Alliance
Lawson, John Howard, Hollywood 10
Lebron, Dolores Lolita, here, here and here, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, attempted assassin
Lebron, Juan Bernardo, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, convicted of sedition
Ledoux, Urbain J. “Mr. Zero”, advocate for the unemployed, developer of earned media
Lee, Euel “Orphan Jones”, Md. conviction for murder overturned due to exclusion of black people from jury, later executed
Lee, Gilbert, federal mediator
Lee, Harvey, transit union activist
Lee, Ulysses, Howard student, participant in Capitol restaurant desegregation effort
Lee, Wayne, here and here, refused mandatory ROTC at UMD
Legg, R. E., Maryland trooper wounded during U. of Md. antiwar demonstrations
Lenin, Vladimir Ilyich and here, Russian revolutionary, first leader of Soviet Union
Lesser, Sue, here, here, here, here, here, and here, AFSCME activist
Levenson, Leonard, D.C. Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteer
Levine, Samuel, Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union attorney
Levinson, David, International Labor Defense attorney
Levner, William, New York Teachers Union, AFL
Lewis, Elijah, charged with treason for Christiana incident
Lewis Frances, Capital Transit streetcar operator
Lewis, John L., mineworkers and CIO labor leader
Lewis, John Robert and here, Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee leader, freedom rider, U.S. Representative
Lewis, Kathryn and here, labor activist, daughter of John L. Lewis
Lewis, Morris., aide to U.S. Rep. Oscar DePriest, denied service in House restaurant
Lewis, Wilhelina, Bureau of Engraving, United Public Workers Local 3
Liebknecht, Karl, German communist leader
Lingo, Carlotta, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Lipman, Lena, interracial dancer
Little Bobbie (whole name unknown), bagpiper during Coxey’s Army
Little, Joan and here, killed her jailer in self-defense, acquitted of murder
Lively, Walter, NAACP, CORE, Student Peace Union, Students for Democratic Society, U-Join, Black Workers Congress
Lockley Roy G., Arlington, Va. Police officer
Logan, Rayford, National Negro Congress
Lohmeyer, Morris, Maryland National Guard
Lomack, Bertha, New Negro Alliance
Lovett, Edward P. and here, Howard University professor, NAACP attorney, civil rights activist
Luthhardt, Charles T., Fighting American Nationals leader, anti-integration
Lutz, Theodore, D.C. Metro general manager
Lydia, Edell [Kwame Afoh] and here, D.C. black nationalist activist, Pan Afrikan Nationalists of South Florida
Lynd, Staughton and here, antiwar leader, civil rights activist
Lyttle, Bradford, Committee for Non-Violent Action, draft resister
Lyttle, Mary, antiwar activist
MacArthur, Douglas, U.S. Army general
Machtinger, Howard N., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Mack, Gunner, D.C. radio personality
Magid, Larry, anti-Vietnam War activist, National Student Association Center for Educational Reform, tech writer
Mahoney, Annie, evicted at age 90
Makeba, Miriam, singer, songwriter, actress, civil rights activist
Mallory, Arenia, founder of industrial arts school
Mandel, Marvin, Maryland governor; jailed for corruption
Mann, James E., Washington transit horse car veteran
Manner, Paul H., Prince George’s AFSCME chief negotiator
Manuilsky, Dimitri Z., Ukrainian Foreign Minister
Mao Zedong, here and here, Chinese communist leader
Marcantonio, Vito Anthony “Marc”, U.S. Representative, American Labor Party
Mardian, Robert, Asst. Attorney General
Markward, Mary, secretary, D.C. Communist Party; FBI informant
Marshall, Dr. C. Herbert and here, civil rights activist, National Medical Association leader, D.C. NAACP
Marshall, Esther T., D.C. civil rights activist
Marshall, Thurgood, NAACP General Counsel; U.S. Solicitor General; U.S. Supreme Court
Marshall III, George, Secretary of State
Martin, [first name unknown], woman who accompanied recanted Scottsboro accuser Ruby Bates
Martin, Hazel, interracial dancer
Martin, Lewis, ex-slave
Martin Jr., Robert Anthony (later known as Stephen Donaldson), here and here, pacifist, gay rights activist
Martinez, Maximino Pedraza, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, convicted of sedition
Mason, Charles, civil rights activist, husband of Hilda Mason
Mason, Hilda M., here and here, D.C. board of education, D.C. councilmember, Statehood Party
Mathias, Charles “Mac”, here and here, U.S. House of Representatives (R-MD)
Matlovich, Leonard, U.S. Air Force, gay rights advocaste
Matos, Armando Diaz, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, convicted of sedition
Matthews, David, Baltimore National Workers Organization
Matthews, J. B., HUAC investigator
Matthews, Ralph, D.C. civil rights activist, Afro American newspaper
Matthews, Rives, target of free press suppression
Mayes, Crystal, civil rights activist
Mayfield, Rufus “Catfish”, D.C. community activist
Mayo, John, New Negro Alliance
Mazique, Edward C., physician, Medico-Chirurgical Society of Washington
Mazique, Jewel, D.C. labor, civil rights and women’s activist
McAlister, Elizabeth, here, here, here, here and here, hit and stay activist, Harrisburg 8 defendant
McCabe, Harry, U.S. Marshal
McCann, Patrick “Pat”, University of Maryland activist, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, PGCEA and MCEA teachers unions
McCloud, Charles, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
McCloud, Isabelle, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
McCoy, George and here, inmate; murdered Red Scare target William Remington
McCullough, Celeste M., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
McDaniel, Frances, Washington Telephone Traffic Union striking member
McDonald, David, United Steel Workers
McDonald, Duncan, United Mine Workers leader
McDonough, William F., National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
McFadden, Louis Thomas, U.S. Representative, opposed House restaurant Jim Crow, Nazi sympathizer
McGarraghy, Joseph C., employer attorney for hotels
McGee, Willie, executed for raping a white woman, subject of nationwide campaign to free him
McGlasson, Amy B., one of D.C.’s first all-woman jury
McGuigan, Francis J.., president of Retail Clerks Local 400
McGuire, Raymond (and wife), DC freeway opponents
McGuire, Virginia and here, D.C. NAACP leader
McIntyre, Francis, U.S. Assistant Director of International Trade
McKenzie, John, Trenton 6 defendant
McKinnie, Lester and here, D.C. SNCC leader
McMichael, Jack, Methodist minister, American Youth Congress leader, peace activist
McLaughlin, Neil Rev., here, here and here, Harrisburg 8 defendant
McLaughlin, Robert E. and here, D.C. Commissioner, D.C. Public Utilities Commission
McNamara, Patrick V., U.S. Senator
McPherson, Janet, Mother Jones Collective
McRobie, Austin., Capital Transit worker
Meade, William B., Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 leader
Meany, William George and here, AFL and AFL-CIO, labor leader
Medina, Angel Luis, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, turned state evidence at sedition trial
Medina, Juan Francisco, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, convicted of sedition
Medina, Julio Flores, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, convicted of sedition
Meiselman, Mariam and here, Baltimore, Md. garment worker activist
Melnicoff, Paul, here, here, and here, D.C. activist
Menz, Anne, refused to testify in Harrisburg 8 case
Merrill, E. D. and here, president of Capital Transit, refused to hire black operators
Meyer, Agnes, wife of Washington Post publisher
Meyers, George A., Md. Textile union leader, Md. CIO leader, Md. and national Communist Party leader, imprisoned
Middleton, Jimmy, D.C. Metro wildcat strike
Mikulski, Barbara Ann and here, U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative
Miller, Alvin C. and here, white supremacist
Miller, H. B.., D.C. Transit streetcar operator
Miller, Hugh, Washington Committee for Democratic Action
Miller, John E., U.S. Representative, upheld Jim Crow at House restaurant
Miller, Judy, House Banking and Currency Committee
Miller, Kelly , Howard University dean of Arts and Sciences, NAACP
Miller, L. I., D.C. transit union strike leader
Miller, Marc T.., student activist, Montgomery County Freedom Party
Miller, William Newton, Abraham Lincoln Brigade
Milliken, Helen, Equal Rights Amendment leader, wife of Michigan governor William Milliken
Millner, Booker T. and here, Martinsville 7, executed
Mills, Alexander W., Unemployed Council
Mills, Clyde, labor conciliator
Mills, Jake and here, D.C. transit union activist
Mills, Sue V., anti-busing leader, Prince George’s County Council
Mills, Walter Thomas, Progressive Party
Mindell, Jacob, Communist Party leader, jailed
Minh, Ho Chi, Vietnamese communist leader
Miranda, Raphael Cancel, here, here and here, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, attempted assassin
Misty (no last name) and here, participant in conference on homosexuality
Mitchell, Arthur W., black U.S. Representative
Mitchell, Clarence, here and here, NAACP lobbyist
Mitchell, Curtis and here, Howard University graduate, civil rights activist
Mitchell, John, Attorney General
Mitchell, Jonas E., D.C. Red Caps union
Mitchell, London, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 member
Molotov, Vyacheslav M., Soviet communist leader
Monova, Michael, Cambridge, Md. civil rights activist
Montgomery, S. A., D.C. transit union strike leader
Montgomery, Viola and here, mother of Scottsboro defendant
Mooney, Carol, women’s rights activistMooney, John B., San Francisco transit union leader, brother of imprisoned labor leader Tom Mooney
Mooney, Mary, mother of imprisoned labor activist Tom Mooney
Mooney, Rena Hermann, wife of imprisoned labor leader Tom Mooney, activist
Mooney, Tom and here, imprisoned labor leader
Moore, Douglas “Doug”, Black United Front, D.C. City Council
Moore, Jerry, D.C. Councilmember
Moore, Loyd, Prince George’s AFSCME striking member
Moore, Richard B., International Labor Defense
Moreno, Antonio Herrera, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, convicted of sedition
Morris, L. W., Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 leader
Morrow, E. Frederic, White House administrative officer
Morse, Wayne and here, U.S. Senator
Moss, Annie Lee, Army signal corps clerk, accused by Sen. Joseph McCarthy of being a communist
Moss, Sgt. Howard G., Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Moss, Lauree, anti-Vietnam War activist
Moton, Robert Russa, principal of Tuskegee Institute
Mouton, William L. “Red” and here, D.C. Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteer
Moynihan, Patrick Henry., U.S. Representative from Illinois, opponent of Jim Crow
Mulholland, Joan Trumpauer, here and here, Non-Violent Action Group, D.C. civil rights leader
Mumford, L. Quincy, Librarian at the Library of Congress
Mundy, Kenneth, defense attorney
Murphy, George B. and here, National Negro Congress, civil rights activist, son of Afro American editor George Murphy
Murray, Rev. Dr. Anna Pauline “Pauli”, Episcopal priest, civil rights, women’s rights, LGBT rights activist
Murray, Donald Gaines, plaintiff in U. of Md. desegregation case, civil rights attorney
Murray, Phillip, United Steel Workers and Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO) leader
Murray, Robert, D.C. transit union strike leader
Murrell, Larry, child who integrated Glen Echo Amusement Park
Nabritt Jr., James, civil rights attorney, president of Howard University
Nader, Alan, here, here and here, University of Maryland and D.C. area activist
Nanton, Robert, Retail Store Employees Local 400 striking member
Nelson, G. H., San Antonio transit union leader
Nelson, Steve, Communist Party leader
Newman, Craig, here and here, D.C. activist, AFSCME 1072 leader
Newton, Huey and here, Black Panther Party
Nhu, Madam (Tran Le Xuan), South Vietnamese leader, wife of President Ngô Đình Diệm
Nichols Jr, Cary, D.C. voting rights activistNieves, Miguel Vargas and here, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, convicted of sedition
Nishida, Tai, Long Walk for Survival participant
Nix, James, here, here, here and here, Black Employees of the Library of Congress
Nixon, Richard M., here, here, here, here, here and here, U.S. President
Nixon, Russell, National Guardian
Nixon, Thelma Catherine “Pat”, First Lady of President Richard M. Nixon
No Last Name, Harry and here, Regional Addiction Prevention participant
No Last Name, Sheldon , child participant in the Longest Walk
Norman, Duncan and here, D.C. Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteer
Norris, Ida, here and here, Scottsboro mother
Norton, Dr. Joseph, Association of Gay Psychologists
Novak, Mike, United Auto Workers
Nowell, Virginia, D.C. Green Guards
Nuttle, Marilyn, Trail of Broken Treaties
O’Brennan, Kalthleen, Irish independence supporter
O’Brien, Helen, here, here, and here, Irish independence supporter
O’Dwyer, Paul, New York City Council, civil liberties attorney
Oglesby, Alexander, Frederick Douglass Post 21 of the Grand Army of the Republic veterans
O’Hair, Madalyn Murray, atheist and anti-school prayer leader
O’Hair, Garth Murray, atheist and anti-school prayer leader
O’Hair, William Murray, plaintiff in anti-school prayer case, later Christian Baptist minister
Olabes, Donna, American Civil Liberties Union
Olivera, Serafin Colon and here, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, acquitted of sedition
Olmstead, Mildred Scott, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom leader
O’Neal, Eugene “Gene” and here, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 recording secretary
Orr, Rezin and here, Amalgamated Transit Union leader
Ortiz, Florentino, Abraham Lincoln Brigade
Ortiz, Murielo, Abraham Lincoln Brigade
Ortiz, Sancha, Abraham Lincoln Brigade
Osborne, John, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Ottinger, Bill, D.C. Metro wildcat strike
Owens, Sarah E. Boulware and here, first African American woman knowingly hired as a D.C. Transit bus operator
Owens, Thomas, United Rubber Workers

P-T

Pace, John, here, here and here, Workers Ex-Servicemens League leader, Bonus March
Padget, William, local man who helped slavers during Christiana incident
Palmer, A. Mitchell, U.S. Attorney General, led first Red Scare
Palmer, Charles, here, and here, National Student Association president
Palmer, Eleanor, Washington Telephone Traffic Union activist
Palmer, Oliver, DC cafeteria union leader
Param, Annie, ex-slave
Parker Barrington, civil liberties attorney, federal judge, son of George Parker
Parker, Bill, Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteer
Parker, Carl and here, inmate; murdered Red Scare target William Remington
Parker, Charlie, Prince George’s AFSCME union leader
Parker George A., founder Terrell School of Law; father of Barrington Parker
Parrish, Theodore, here, here, here and here, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 recording secretary
Parrott, Ethel, Bureau of Engraving, United Public Workers Local 3
Parsons, Lucy, anarchist leader, wife of Haymarket martyr Albert Parsons
Patak, John, interracial dancer
Patler, John, American Nazi Party, assassin of George Lincoln Rockwell
Patrick, Ann, Dry cleaning presser, cast ballot in union vote
Patterson, James O’Hanlon, U.S. Representative, favored Jim Crow House restaurant
Patterson, Janie, here and here, Scottsboro mother
Patterson, Leonard, Trade Union Unity League spokesperson
Patterson, Louise Thompson, here and here, Communist Party, civil rights leader
Patterson, Mary Louise, daughter of William L. and Louise T. Patterson
Patterson, Samuel, chair of Scottsboro Defense Committee
Patterson, William L., Communist Party and civil rights leader
Pattillo, Melba, Little Rock 9
Perrin, Sandra M., here and here, D.C. transit union activist
Perry, Hardy, transit union member
Perry, Milton, Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, “Boy Wonder Preacher”
Peters, A. J., Boston, Ma. police chief
Pettigrew, Robert and here, first black D.C. bus operator knowingly hired
Phillips, Rev. Channing, D.C. civil rights; Coalition of Conscience, first black man to receive votes for U.S. president at a Democratic Party Convention
Phillips, Louise, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Phillips, Nick, Revolutionary Communist Party
Phoebus, Harry T., Md. commissioner of labor
Pickens, William, NAACP, Department of Treasury
Piercy, Marge, feminist author
Pigasus, Ms., here, here and here, Yippie presidential candidate’s first lady
Pinchot III, Gifford., Md. civil rights activist
Pinn, Rev., Parents League
Porter, Charles O., U.S. Representative, picketed Glen Echo
Porter, John, imprisoned labor leader
Potofsky, Jacob , Amalgamated Clothing Workers president
Potryuski, Walter, musician at interracial dance
Pollock, Robert G., Ohio labor leader
Posado, Maurice, American University student, subject of campaign to prevent deportation
Potts, Virginia, Washington Telephone Traffic Union striker
Powderly, Terence, Knights of Labor leader
Powe, Ralph, civil rights, civil liberties attorney
Powell Jr., Rev. Adam Clayton, civil rights leader, New York City Council, U.S. Representative
Powell, Jeffrey D., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Powell, Josephine, Scottsboro mother
Praier, J. H., Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Pratt, Lowell D., D.C. SNCC organizer
Preller, C. F., D.C. Central Labor Union leader
Pressman, Lee, CIO General Counsel, Communist Party ally
Pringle, Claude, D.C. Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteer
Proctor, Michael A., civil rights activist arrested at Glen Echo Amusement Park
Pugh, James H., Montgomery County judge—Giles Brothers, Glen Echo, Washington Free Press
Pullium, Morris., Capital Transit shop worker
Purnell, Julia P. and here, Alpha Kappa Alpha
Quigley, Patrick, Baltimore National Workers Organization
Quinlan, William, Chicago transit union leader
Quinn, Maura and here, Irish independence supporter
Rainey, Henry Thomas and here, U.S. Speaker of the House, opponent of desegregating House restaurant
Randolph, Asa “A.” Phillip, Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters and civil rights leader
Rankin, Jeanette, First woman U.S. Representative, voted against U.S. entry into WWI and WWII
Rankins, Pfc. Samuel D., Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Ransom, Leon and here, Howard Law School acting dean, NAACP attorney, civil rights activist
Raskin, Marcus, Institute for Policy Studies, Boston 5, father of U.S. Rep. Jaime Raskin
Rauh, Joseph L. and here, civil rights and civil liberties attorney
Raum, Rev. A. F. T. , Methodist clergyman who ministered the D.C. Ku Klux Klan
Raven, Robert, Abraham Lincoln Brigade
Ray, Eugene, D.C. Metro wildcat strike leader
Ray, Gloria, Little Rock 9
Rayburn, Laura J., adjunct professor who sued Georgetown University for discrimination against gay people
Reading, Sue, original and revived Washington Area Spark contributor, social justice activist
Reagan, Judy, lesbian activist; folksinger
Reagon, Bernice Johnson., Freedom Singers; Sweet Honey in the Rock
Reed, Cal, antiwar activist
Reed, Thane, anti-nuclear activistReeves, Daniel, son of civil rights lawyer; Democratic Party activist Frank Reeves
Reeves, Deborah, daughter of civil rights lawyer; Democratic Party activist Frank Reeves
Reeves, Elizabeth, wife of civil rights lawyer; Democratic Party activist Frank Reeves
Reeves, Frank D., civil rights lawyer, Democratic Party activist
Reid, Herbert O., D.C. civil rights attorney; advisor to Democratic officials
Reimers, Elizabeth, Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training
Remington, William, Red Scare target, killed in prison
Remon, John, vice president C&P Telephone
Renfrow, Rudolph, New Negro Alliance
Renfrow, Ruth Kelso, Missouri Federation of Women’s Clubs
Reuben, Ida, Md. state senator
Reuther, Walter, United Auto Workers president
Reynolds, Irene, Washington Telephone Traffic Union striker
Rexrode, George, here and here, D.C. transit union activist
Rhine, Henry, United Federal Workers, Washington Industrial Council
Richardson, Gloria (married name Dandridge), Cambridge, Md. civil rights and labor leader
Richardson, Griffin, D.C. Red Caps union, Communist Party, father of Marie Richardson Harris and Thomas “Tommy” Richardson
Rice, Cora, Maryland NAACP
Rich, Knoxie, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Richmond, Rodney and here, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 and International leader
Ricketts, Thomas Parker, D.C. transit veteran
Risling Sr., David, Longest Walk (1978) participant
Rizzo, Anthony, D.C. Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteer
Robbins, Lucy and here, American Federation of Labor, Debs Freedom Conference
Roberts, Helen, immigrant rights activist
Robeson, Eslanda., anthropologist, wife of Paul Robeson
Robeson, Paul, black activist, singer, actor
Robey, Henry, striking Teamster Union member
Robins, John, Somerset County, Md. state’s attorney
Robinson, David “Oops”, D.C. transit union activist
Robinson, George W. and here, president, D.C. Red Caps union
Robinson, Jackie, here, here, here and here, baseball star, civil rights activist
Robinson, Perry Ray, antiwar and civil rights activist
Robinson, Verdie, New Negro Alliance
Robinson-Williams, Mabel Ola., NAACP, wife of Robert F. Williams
Rockwell, George Lincoln, American Nazi Party leader
Roddy, B. J. and here, Irish independence supporter
Rodgers, Helen and here, defied ban on interracial dance
Rodriguez, Irvin Flores, here , here and here , Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, attempted assassin
Rogers, Bob, staff member, D.C. Council
Rogers, William P., U.S. Attorney General; U.S. Secretary of State
Romney, Kenneth, House Sergeant at Arms, condemned civil rights demonstrators
Roosevelt, Eleanor, here and here, First Lady, wife of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Roosevelt, Franklin D., U.S. President
Roosevelt Jr., Franklin D., U.S. Representative, supporter of permanent FEPC
Roosevelt Jr., Theodore and here, government, business, military leader, son of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt
Rose, Blanche, D.C. Green Guards
Rosenberg, Ethel and here, convicted atom spy, executed
Rosenberg, Julius and here, convicted atom spy, executed
Rosenberg [later Meeropol], Michael, here and here, son of executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
Rosenberg [later Meeropol], Robert, here and here, son of executed Julius and Ethel Rosenberg
Rosenberg, Sophie, here and here, mother of executed Julius Rosenberg and mother in law of executed Ethel Rosenberg
Ross, Louis, Washington, D.C. civil rights activist
Ross, Malcolm, Fair Employment Practices Commission
Ross, Margaret, DC telephone union leader
Ross, Paul, civil liberties attorney
Rosser, Amelia and here, Irish independence supporter, first woman to speak on floor of House of Representatives
Roth, Robert H., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Rothman, Paul, National Maritime Union leader
Rotter, Celia and here, Debs Freedom Conference
Rubin, Jerry Clyde, Yippie and anti-Vietnam War leader
Rucker, Bernard “Bunny” and here , Va. Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteer
Rudd, Nancy A., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Rudd Mark W., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Ruiz, Francisco Cortez, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, turned state’s evidence for sedition trial
Russell, Charles Edward, muckraking journalist, Socialist Party, a founder of NAACP
Russell, Richard and here, first black D.C. streetcar operator knowingly hired
Russell, Theresa Hirshl, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and D.C. civil rights leader
Rustin, Bayard, national civil rights leader
Ryan, Carson and here, BIA and DC civil rights activist
Ryan, James, J., student who sued Georgetown University for discrimination against gay people
Sacco, Nicola, here and here, anarchist, executed
Sales, Robert, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 activist
Sanakiewicz, Harriet, Washington Telephone Traffic Union striker
Saunders, Marvous, here and here, civil rights activist arrested at Glen Echo Amusement Park
Saunders, William “Pop” and here, one of the first black D.C. bus operators and the first Metrorail operator
Savage, Kathleen, here, here, and here, Irish independence supporter
Scarlet, Joseph, charged with treason for Christiana incident
Schauer, Donna Lee, Capital Transit bus passenger
Schloss, Leonard, general manager Glen Echo Amusement Park
Schneiderman, Rose, Women’s union leader
Schniderman, Saul, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here, U. of Md. AFSCME 1072; Library of Congress AFSCME 2910
Schwellenbach, Louis B., Secretary of Labor
Scoblick, Anthony, here, here, here and here, Harrisburg 8 defendant
Scoblick, Mary.Cain, here, here and here, Harrisburg 8 defendant
Scoggin, Bob and here, Ku Klux Klan
Scoggin, William T., D.C. Metro wildcat strike leader
Scott, Emmett J., business manager and secretary reasurer, Howard University
Scotti, Pacific, striking Teamster Union member
Seale, Robert “Bobby” George, Black Panther leader
Sector, Frank B., Scottsboro campaign
Seeger, Pete and here, The Almanac Singers, The Weavers, singer
Sellers, Cleveland, SNCC and civil rights leader
Sexton, Joan, D.C. swimming pool integration activist
Shakur, Afeni, Black Panther leader
Shank, Elizabeth, Mayflower Hotel striker
Sharps, Amos, D.C. Red Caps union
Sharpe, Carol, D.C. voting rights activist
Sheehan, Frank J., president of D.C. grocery employers
Sheehan, Hattie, Capital Transit bus operator
Sheils, Sean, Irish Republican Army
Shelton, Alton, Maryland Klan</>
Shepard, John (Sheppard Strudwick), actor, opposed HUAC
Shindell, Len, here and here, Baltimore National Workers Organization, United Steelworkers of America
Shooer, William , National Labor Relations Board
Shostek, Sidney and here, D.C. Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteer, killed in action
Sigmon, William L. and here, slain police officer
Simms, William F. and here, D.C. transit union leader
Simons, William “Bill”, Washington Teachers Union president
Simpson, Craig G., ATU Local 689 secretary-treasurer, UFCW Local 400 executive director, social justice activist, Spark administrator
Simpson, Helen and here, mother of Spark contributors Bob and Craig Simpson
Simpson, Robert “Bob”, University of Maryland SDS, AFSMCE 1072, Official Irish Republic Club, Venceremos Brigade, Chicago activist
Tate, U. Simpson, National Negro Congress leader
Simpson, William L., World War II soldier, father of Spark contributors Bob and Craig Simpson
Sistrom, Joe, producer and writer, opposed HUAC
Skardis, John R., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Skinner, Cpl. Lowell and here, Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Slick, Grace Barnett, singer and counter-culture activist
Slowe, Lucy, dean of Howard University women
Smeal, Eleanor, Equal Rights Amendment leader, National Organization of Women, Feminist Majority Foundation
Smirnovsky, Mikhail N., Soviet Charge D’Affairs
Smith, Ernest C., pastor Metropolitan Baptist Church, civil rights activist
Smith, George C., Parents League
Smith, Dr. J. Holmes, opposed British jailing of Nehru and Ghandi
Smith, Luther, D.C. transit union activist
Smith, Roberta B., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Smith, Roland R., Bowie State College student government president
Smith, Sam., alternative journalist, D.C. Gazette, Progressive Review
Smith, Therell, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Snow, Maj. B. C., D.C. Public Utilities Commission
Snow, Vernon, D.C. Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteer, killed in action
Snowden, O. Phillip, Howard student, participant in Capitol restaurant desegregation effort
Snyder, Mitch, Community for Creative Non-Violence
Sobell, Helen. and here, wife of convicted atom spy Morton Sobell
Sobell, Mort, son of convicted atom spy Morton Sobell
Sobell, Morton, convicted atom spy, imprisoned
Sobell, Rose, mother of convicted atom spy Morton Sobell
Sobell, Sydney, daughter of convicted atom spy Morton Sobell
Sotomayor, Gonzalo Lebron, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, turned state’s evidence at sedition trial
Spangler, Ernest, D.C. hotel workers leadert
Spears, Harvey M., D.C. Transit attorney
Spencer, Samuel, and here, D.C. Commissioner
Spiegel, Michael L., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Spock, Dr. Benjamin, pediatrician, author, antiwar leader
Spottswood, Stephen Gill, pastor John Wesley AME Zion church, civil rights activist
Springer, Maida, American Federation of Labor
Spritzer, Ralph S., first assistant U.S. Solicitor General
Stachio, William, United Auto Workers
Stalin, Josef, here and here, Soviet communist leader
Starnes, Mabel, D.C. Green Guards
Starr, Mo and here, participant in conference on homosexuality
Starr, Dr. Dorothy , participant in conference on homosexuality
Stearns, Richard, National Student Association
Steele, Thomas W., D.C. voting rights activist
Steelman, John, chief of staff to President Harry S. Truman
Stein, Annie, Washington, D.C. labor and civil rights leader
Stein, Barry Phillip., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Steinem, Gloria and here, women’s rights leader
Steinger, Dr. Klaus, East German journalist; analyst
Stephens, Claire, D.C. transit union activist
Stevenson, Barry, evicted with blind mother and blind grandmother
Stevenson, Bernice, blind woman evicted with blind grandmother and two children
Stevenson, Irene, blind grandmother evicted with blind duaghter and two children
Stevenson, Joyce, evicted with blind mother and blind grandmother
Stewart, C. T., Navy Yard worker, organized against wage cuts
Stone, Gertrude B., Washington, D.C. civil rights activist
Stone, Isadore Fenstein “I. F.” and here, muckraking journalist, anti-fascist
Stone, Joyce Fenimore, Washington, D.C. civil rights activist
Strange, Dorothy, National Negro Congress
Streeter, John J., Progressive Party
Stewart, James, one of first Philadelphia black motormen
Strong, Lt. Col. George E., labor conciliator
Strong, Katherine, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Strum, Bill , here and here, University of Maryland College Park activist
Strumpf, Marc, here, here and here, Montgomery County Freedom Party, University of Maryland student government president
Stutson, Sandy, here, here, here and here, Black Employees of the Library of Congress
Sullivan, Sgt. Laurence G., Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Sulloway, Cyrus, U.S. Representative
Summers, Ernest A., Arlington, Va. Police officer
Surasky, Jack., Capital Transit investor
Sweeney, Alvin, Northern Virginia labor leader
Swinglish, John, refused to testify in Harrisburg 8 case
Tabankin, Margery, National Student Association president, Democratic Party
Talley, John Earl, slain D.C. transit operator
Tanner, Ms. F. S., Parents League
Tanz, Alfred, D.C. Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteer
Taylor, Glen, U.S. Senator; vice presidential candidate for Progressive Party
Taylor, James, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Taylor, John Clabon and here, Martinsville 7, executed
Taylor, Joseph D. “J.D.”, here, here, here and here, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 activist
Taylor, Lois, D.C. Afro American reporter
Taylor, Sarah, Bureau of Engraving, United Public Workers Local 3
Teague, Walter , U.S. Committeee to Aid the National Liberation Front, social justice activist
Templin, Rev. Ralph, opposed British jailing of Nehru and Ghandi
Tenneson, Pfc. Richard, Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Tennyson, David, Grand Army of the Republic veteran
Terrell, Mary Church, National Council of Negro Women and civil rights leader
Terrell, Rep. George Butler, U.S. representative and proponent of segregation in House
Terry, Juanita, first black aide to a white U.S. Representative
Thomas, Bill and here, Longest Walk participant
Thomas, Henry and here, Communist Party; Laborers Local 74; witness against former comrades
Thomas, Jefferson, Little Rock 9
Thomas, James, Cambridge, Md. white supremacist
Thomas, James H., boarded desegregated Virginia bound bus
Thomas, John A., Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 Secretary Treasurer
Thomas, W. F., Navy Yard worker, organized against wage cuts
Thomas, Jr. James M. “Tommy”, here, here, here and here, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 president</>
Thompson, Charles, National Negro Congress
Thompson, Mayme, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Thompson, Micki Jo, Washington Telephone Traffic Union striking member
Thompson, Rev. R. W., Parents League
Thompson, Sadie and here, ex-slave
Thorne, M. Franklin, New Negro Alliance
Thorpe, James, Trenton 6 defendant
Thurmond, Edward, D.C. Red Caps union
Tibbs, Celestine, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Tieger, Joseph “Buddy”, draft resister
Tigar, Michael, “Movement” attorney
Timm, Eros A., here and here, radical bank robber, cop killer
Timmerman, Douglas H., D.C. voting rights activist
Tippett, Tom, union activist, journalist, author
Tobias, Channing and here, secretary national council YMCA, civil rights
Tola, Michael, Mayday organizer, suspect in Capitol bombing
Tompkins, Esther M., one of D.C.’s first all-woman jury
Toney, Charles, civil rights activist, John Deere
Torres, Manuel Rabago, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, convicted of sedition
Torresola, Doloes Otero, Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, wife of slain attempted assassin Griselio Torresola, convicted of sedition
Torsell, Carolyn, here, here, here and here, Black Employees of the Library of Congress
Townsend, Francis and here, promotor of alternative pension plan to Social Security
Trevellick, Richard. F., organizer of first national labor conference
Triplett, James A., D.C. Red Caps union
Truman, Harry, here, here here and here, U.S. President
Trumbo, Dalton, Hollywood 10
Truth, Sojourner (Isabella [Belle] Baumfree), ex-slave, abolitionist, feminist
Tubman, Harriet, here, here and here, escaped slavery, spy for Union Army, abolitionist
Tucker, Sterling, D.C. Urban League, D.C. City Council
Tuomi, Sirkka, one of first Women’s Army Corps (WAC), Maryland Communist Party
Turner, Leon, here, here, here and here, Black Employees of the Library of Congress

U-Z

Underhill, Charles Lee, U.S. Representative, favored House Jim Crow
Underwood, Albert and here, civil rights activist
Uran, Andrew, unemployed, auctioned by Urbain LeDoux
Usera, Vincent, Abraham Lincoln Brigade volunteer, lived in D.C. after the war
Van Stavern, W. H., D.C. transit union leader
Vance, Susan Ford, Equal Rights Amendment leader, daughter of U.S. President Gerald Ford
Vance, Tyne, granddaughter of U.S. President Gerald Ford
Vanzetti, Bartolomeo and here, anarchist, executed
Velez, Angel Luis Arzola , Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, convicted of sedition
Vernon, William Tecumseh, AME bishop, university president, Registrar of the Treasury
Vincent, Craig, Washington Industrial Union Council
Voorhis, Jerry, U.S. Representative, HUAC
Vorys, John, U.S. Reprewentative
Waddle, C. H., automobile dealer, supporter of Father Cox
Wade, Bob, University of Maryland College Park Students for a Democratic Society
Waldron, Rev. J. Milton, Parents League
Walker, Harold, Attica Survivors Committee
Walker, March, American University student, sought to prevent deportation of fellow student
Wallace, George Corley, white supremacist governor of Alabama and presidential candidate
Wallace, Henry, New Deal Democrat, Progressive Party candidate for President
Waller, Maurice, here, here, here, here and here, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 activist
Wallaert, Steven, Alexandria, Va. Air Traffic Controllers union president
Walls, Carlotta, Little Rock 9
Walsh, James (wife of—name unknown)., Irish independence supporter
Ware, A. L., commuted by horse during transit strike
Ware, Amy, ex-slave
Warfield, Adj. Gen. Edwin., Md. National Guard commander during campus occupations
Warren, Rep. Lindsay and here, U.S. Representative and enforcer of segregation at House cafeteria
Washington, Cecil and here, civil rights activist arrested at Glen Echo Amusement Park
Washington, Walter, Washington, D.C. mayor
Waters, Walter W., Bonus Army leader
Watkins, Steve., D.C. Metro wildcat strike
Watson, Henry, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Watts, Glen, D.C. telephone union leader, Communications Workers of America union leader
Weaver, David, D.C. transit union activist
Weaver, Frederick C. and here, Afro American reporter and civil rights activist
Weaver, Margaret E., one of D.C.’s first all-woman jury
Webb, Harold, Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Weiss, Charles, Association of Gay Psychologists
Weiss, Lawrence M., Students for a Democratic Society, Weather Underground
Welch, Selena, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Welcome, Verda , Md. State senator
Wellen, Margaret E., one of D.C.’s first all-woman jury
Wenderoth, Rev. Joseph, here and here, Harrisburg 8 defendant
Wesley, Dr. Charles Harris, AME minister, Howard dean and Washington, D.C. civil rights leader
Weston, Robert, W., judge, D.C. Public Utilities Commission
Whalen, Patrick “Paddy” B., Communist Party, Baltimore labor leader
Wheaton, Rev. Phil , opponent of Chilean dictatorship
Wheeler, Roger, labor arbitrator
Whelcher, Claude J. , Maryland Ku Klux Klan, groom in Klan wedding
White Sr., Compton, U.S. Representative, opponent of integration
White, Don, Prince George’s AFSCME striking member
White, George H., last black U.S. Representative of Reconstruction era
White, John P., mine workers labor leader
White, Walter, NAACP leader
White, Pfc. William C. and here, Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Whitehurst, Christine, among first women bus operator trainees
Wilbert, George A., Amalgamated Transit Union Local 689 leader
Wiggins, Elsie, Plymouth Congregational Church NAACP club
Wilcox, Mamie Williams, here and here, Scottsboro mother
Wilkens, Roy, here and here, NAACP leader
Wilkerson, Cathlyn Platt, Weather Underground and DC SDS leader
Wilkerson, Doxie A., here, here and here, Howard University professor, civil rights activist, Communist Party USA
Wilkinson, Frederick D., Howard University registrar
Wilkinson, Garnet C. , D.C. administrator of black schools
Williams, Anne, social justice activist
Williams, Rev. E., Parents League
Williams, Ms. [no first name] Earl, Maryland civil rights activist
Williams, Hosea and here, civil rights and Southern Christian Leadership Conference leader, Georgia elected official
Williams, Joan, D.C. civil rights activist
Williams, Lelia, D.C. transit union activist
Williams, Matthew and here, Md. lynching victim
Williams, McRae, D.C. Red Caps union
Williams, Preston, D.C. transit union veteran
Williams, Robert F. and here,NAACP, Revolutionary Action Movement
Williams, Smallwood and here, bishop of D.C. Bible Way Church, civil rights activist
Williamson, Harold E., opponent of Rosenbergs execution
Willis, E. B., Progressive Party
Williston, Peggy, New Negro Alliance
Willmen, Carl, Cambridge, Mds. Civil rights demonstrator
Willoughby, Lillian, anti-nuclear activist
Wills, Pfc. Morris R. and here, Korean War POW who refused repatriation
Wise, William, Dorchester County Citizens Association, segregationist
Wilson, Dagmar Searchinge, anti-nuclear testing and anti-Vietnam War leader
Wilson, Horace, Trenton 6 defendant
Wilson, James Finley and here, Grand Exalted Ruler of the I.B.P.O.E. of W. and civil rights leader
Wilson, Jerry, D.C. police chief
Wilson, John, Princess Anne, Md. civil rights activist
Wilson, Mary L., one of D.C.’s first all-woman jury
Wilson, Will R., Asst. Attorney General
Wind, Tom and here, Longest Walk participant
Winkowsky, Joseph, anti-imperialist activist
Wolfre, Herb , striking Teamster Union member
Wolfson, Cecil, Capital Transit investor
Wolfson, Louis., here and here, principal owner Capital Transit, coporate raider
Woll, Matthew, AFL labor leader
Wood, Charlie, Vintage Spark contributor
Wood, Leroy H. and here, D.C. Communist Party leader, imprisoned
Wood, Tom, antiwar activist
Woodcock, Leonard and here, United Auto Workers president
Woodard, Mark, U. of Md. student strike leader
Woods, Arthur, New York City police commissioner
Woods, Peter, helped drive off slavers during Christiana incident
Woodson, Granville, New Negro Alliance
Woodson, Minnie, D.C. School Board
Woodward, Robert, Washington Post journalist
Worthy, William, Afro American journalist, civil rights and right to travel activist
Wright, Billy and here, D.C. transit union leader
Wyatt, Jane, actress, opposed HUAC
Wyman, Bill, Vietnam Veterans Against the War
X, Malcolm [Little], Nation of Islam, black liberation spokesperson
Yarrow, Peter, social justice activist, member of singing group Peter, Paul and Mary
Yeldell, Joseph P. and here, D.C. appointed councilmember; D.C. administrator
Yergan, Max and here, National Negro Congress leader, later FBI informer, supporter of apartheid
Young, Andrew, civil rights leader, U.S. Representative
Young, Charles, son of Col. Charles Young, Scottsboro activist, aided Soviet Union
Young, Coleman, Detroit, Mich. mayor
Young, Gary, D.C. Metro wildcat strike leader
Young Horse, Floyd, Trail of Broken Treaties
Zabel, John O., Progressive Party
Zais, Jim , D.C. Gay Activist Alliance leader
Zanbower, Cortes , worker at Celanese plant
Zerubin, Georgi, Soviet ambassador
Zerubin, Mrs. (name unknown), wife of Soviet ambassador
Zetkin, Claire, German communist leader
Zhou Enlai, Chinese communist leader
Zimring, O. David , here and here, Labor Bureau of the Middle West
Zucker, Jack and here, United Shoe Workers

New finding aid for Spark blog posts

7 Dec

(See Navigation page for updates to this post)

We hope to begin adding new posts in 2018 about change makers in the greater Washington, D.C. area that are largely unknown.

However, we wanted to better organize both our blog and photo collections before turning our attention to additional research and writing.

The following are broad categories to help you find our blog posts. They are listed from latest post to oldest post within each category.

Categorizing these posts within broad categories inevitably leads to disputes. Please accept these categories as finding aids instead of viewing them as political statements.

Blog Post Finding Guide

(For photos, see our Flickr photo guide)

Anarchism and Syndicalism

No posts at this time

Antiwar

(See Vietnam War for Indochina conflict)

Unbowed and unbroken Debs comes to Washington: 1921 [January 10, 2016 by JW] A brief description of Socialist Eugene Debs Washington, D.C. visit following his release from prison for opposing World War I.

Civil Rights and Black Liberation Before 1955

DC’s fighting barber and the end of public school segregation [August 20, 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: A look at Gardner Bishop and the Consolidated Parents group that ended legal segregation of schools in the District of Columbia through boycotts picketing and a legal strategy separate from Brown v. Board of Education.

Shootings by DC police spark fight against brutality, 1936-41 [April 20, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: An account of an early civil rights struggle in Washington, D.C. that united the African American community from the NAACP to the Communist Party and implemented many of the tactics that are still used today.

DC’s old Jim Crow rocked by 1939 Marian Anderson concert [March 14, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: A view of the celebrated struggle against the Jim Crow Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall from the viewpoint of activists. It’s a different one than often told where First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Interior Secretary Harold Ickes save the day.

“Scottsboro Boys” – New tactics and strategy for civil rights [February 19, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: The campaign around the “Scottsboro Boys” – nine African American youths accused of raping two Alabama white women—marked the beginning of the civil rights movement out of the churches and into the streets. This account of activities in Washington, D.C. outlines civil disobedience, marches and petition campaigns involving broad coalitions that saved the lives of the nine young men.

Before 1963: The 1922 silent march on Washington [February 6, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: A brief history of the first major African American march on Washington that was held to call for a federal anti-lynching law.

600 black women stand strong: the 1938 crab pickers strike [December 5, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: The amazing struggle of 600 black women led by a communist organizer to improve their conditions and win a union on Maryland’s Jim Crow Eastern Shore. The account is followed by a description of an amazing set of photographs of Crisfield during that time and an account of the communist CIO organizer Michael Howard.

The fight against Capital Transit’s Jim Crow hiring: 1941-55 [October 14, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: The long struggle to integrate Washington’s Capital Transit Company operator ranks—from World War II to the early years of the modern civil rights movement.

A DC labor and civil rights leader remembered: Marie Richardson [November 19, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: Marie Richardson Harris is believed to be the first African American woman to hold national office for a major labor union. She later spearheaded Washington, D.C.’s National Negro Congress and was jailed for four-and-a-half years during the McCarthy era.

Civil Rights and Black Liberation After 1955

Contradictions in the cause: Glen Echo, Maryland 1960 [June 26, 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: A behind the scenes look at the internal conflicts within the storied movement to desegregate the Glen Echo Amusement Park.

Raging civil rights struggle leads to union victories: Cambridge Md. 1963 [May 31, 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: The fierce civil rights struggle that involved armed fighting by blacks and whites and a three-year occupation by the Maryland National Guard leads to unity among workers.

Crazy Dion Diamond: A 1960 Rights Warrior in the Suburbs [January 20, 2013 by the editor]: A brief summary of the activities of one of the civil rights activists in Washington, D.C. in the early 1960s. It is followed by an excerpt from Kwame Ture about an incident in a southern jail with Dion Diamond.

Standing against the Maryland Klan 1971: a personal experience [January 2, 2013 by Bob Simpson, cross-posted in the Daily Kos]: A view of the Maryland Klan and one individual’s decision to confront the group at a Klan picnic and cross burning in Rising Sun, Maryland.

The Black Panther Party Revolutionary People’s Convention: November 1970 [November 25, 2012 by the editor]: The turning point in the Black Panther Party’s influence is told through illustrations of the event.

Communists

Paddy Whalen and the Midnight March of the Baltimore Brigade [February 4 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: The port of Baltimore’s leader of the seamen, Paddy Whalen, exerted a powerful influence on all of Maryland’s and the District of Columbia’s labor and civil rights struggles.

DC police raid 1948 fundraiser by Progressive Party supporters [March 6, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: An account of a relatively minor event at the beginning of the second Red Scare that illustrates the repression that was to come for the next ten years.

Shootings by DC police spark fight against brutality, 1936-41 [April 20, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: An account of an early civil rights struggle in Washington, D.C. that united the African American community from the NAACP to the Communist Party and implemented many of the tactics that are still used today.

Police break up unemployed protest at the White House: 1930 [February 26, 2013 by the editor]: A short account of President Herbert Hoover’s response to a 1930 demonstration by the unemployed sponsored by the Communist Party outside the White House. Hoover would gain notoriety and ultimately be defeated for what the public perceived as his callous attitude toward the social conditions created by the Great Depression.

“Scottsboro Boys” – New tactics and strategy for civil rights [February 19, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: The campaign around the “Scottsboro Boys” – nine African American youths accused of raping two Alabama white women—marked the beginning of the civil rights movement out of the churches and into the streets. This account of activities in Washington, D.C. outlines civil disobedience, marches and petition campaigns involving broad coalitions that saved the lives of the nine young men.

600 black women stand strong: the 1938 crab pickers strike [December 5, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: The amazing struggle of 600 black women led by a communist organizer to improve their conditions and win a union on Maryland’s Jim Crow Eastern Shore. The account is followed by a description of an amazing set of photographs of Crisfield during that time and an account of the communist CIO organizer Michael Howard.

A DC labor and civil rights leader remembered: Marie Richardson [November 19, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: Marie Richardson Harris is believed to be the first African American woman to hold national office for a major labor union. She later spearheaded Washington, D.C.’s National Negro Congress and was jailed for four-and-a-half years during the McCarthy era.

D.C. Area Miscellaneous

DC police raid 1948 fundraiser by Progressive Party supporters [March 6, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: An account of a relatively minor event at the beginning of the second Red Scare that illustrates the repression that was to come for the next ten years.

Cock Rock – The rape of our culture [Originally published October 1972 in the Montgomery Spark by Bob Simpson. Republished February 12, 2013 with additional images]: A view from the left of the debasing of women by male rock music.

Washington Free Press battles suppression: 1969-70 [November 7, 2012 by Craig Simpson] A spunky underground D.C. publication battles authorities to its death, but not before knocking down repressive restrictions on free speech and a free press.

Fight Against Fascism

Standing against the Maryland Klan 1971: a personal experience [January 2, 2013 by Bob Simpson, cross-posted in the Daily Kos]: A view of the Maryland Klan and one individual’s decision to confront the group at a Klan picnic and cross burning in Rising Sun, Maryland.

Immigrant Rights

No posts at this time

 LBGT

MoCo gay teacher fired 1972; justice denied for 40 years [December 20, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: Joe Acanfora, an early gay student activist, is barred from teaching in Montgomery County, Maryland public schools causing a nationwide examination of the issue.

Maryland marriage equality: over 50 years in the making [November 14, 2012 by the editor]: A brief photo history of some of the LGBT liberation struggles in the Washington, D.C. area on the occasion of the passage of Maryland’s marriage equality act.

Labor Movement

Raging civil rights struggle leads to union victories: Cambridge Md. 1963 [May 31, 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: The fierce civil rights struggle that involved armed fighting by blacks and whites and a three-year occupation by the Maryland National Guard leads to unity among workers.

Strike wave at Washington, D.C.’s Capital Transit: 1945 [May 10, 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: In the midst of a struggle over integration and pent-up wage demands following World War II, transit workers in Washington wage a battle to better their conditions and in the process set the stage to transform their union.

Paddy Whalen and the Midnight March of the Baltimore Brigade [February 4 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: The port of Baltimore’s leader of the seamen, Paddy Whalen, exerted a powerful influence on all of Maryland’s and the District of Columbia’s labor and civil rights struggles.

The 1937 Phillips Packinghouse strike – Promise and defeat [September 18, 2014 by Daniel Hardin]: An account of interracial solidarity during a long effort to unionize packinghouse workers on Maryland’s Jim Crow Eastern Shore.

Washington Post strike at the crossroads, December 1975 [December 12, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: An examination of the strengths and weaknesses of Post strike–one of the greatest defeats suffered by labor in the Washington, D.C. area.

600 black women stand strong: the 1938 crab pickers strike [December 5, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: The amazing struggle of 600 black women led by a communist organizer to improve their conditions and win a union on Maryland’s Jim Crow Eastern Shore. The account is followed by a description of an amazing set of photographs of Crisfield during that time and an account of the communist CIO organizer Michael Howard.

A DC labor and civil rights leader remembered: Marie Richardson [November 19, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: Marie Richardson Harris is believed to be the first African American woman to hold national office for a major labor union. She later spearheaded Washington, D.C.’s National Negro Congress and was jailed for four-and-a-half years during the McCarthy era.

Meatcutters strike betrayed: October 24, 1973 [October 24, 2012 by the editor]: A brief description of a Washington, D.C. meat cutters strike in which the national Teamsters Union refused to honor picket lines, dooming the walkout to failure.

For a moment in time….Mineral Pigment strike October 19, 1973 [October 19, 2012 by the editor]: A slide show of one day when worker power held the company at bay (no longer supported in WordPress, but the photos can be seen at our Flickr site.

The fight against Capital Transit’s Jim Crow hiring: 1941-55 [October 14, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: The long struggle to integrate Washington’s Capital Transit Company operator ranks—from World War II to the early years of the modern civil rights movement.

Marijuana

No posts at this time

 Miscellaneous

No posts at this time

National Liberation and Anti-Imperialism

(for Indochina War, see Vietnam War)

No posts at this time

Prison Rights

No posts at this time

Slave Resistance/Revolts/Military Action

Maryland slaves make a bold bid for freedom: July 7-8, 1845 [July 2 2015 by the editor]: An account of upwards of a hundred Maryland slaves that armed themselves and staged a quick time march toward freedom in Pennsylvania.

Socialism

Unbowed and unbroken Debs comes to Washington: 1921 [January 10, 2016 by JW] A brief description of Socialist Eugene Debs Washington, D.C. visit following his release from prison for opposing World War I.

Students

Miami means fight back: 1972 [Originally published in the Montgomery Spark, Vol. 2, No. 1, September 6, 1972 by Bob Simpson. Republished April 26, 2014 with additional photographs}: A first hand account of a group of Maryland radicals dubbed The Route One Brigade that traveled to Miami, Fl. to protest at the 1972 Republican convention.

30 Days in May: U. of Md. 1970 [August, 1970 by the Democratic Radical Union of Maryland. Originally published in The Radical Guide to the University of Maryland, 1970. Republished May 29, 2014 with an introduction and postscript by the editor and added photographs]: A contemporaneous account of the transformation of the sleepy southern campus at the University of Maryland into a hotbed of radicalism that brought the National Guard onto campus to quell protests for three consecutive years

Transit in the D.C. Area

Strike wave at Washington, D.C.’s Capital Transit: 1945 [May 10, 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: In the midst of a struggle over integration and pent-up wage demands following World War II, transit workers in Washington wage a battle to better their conditions and in the process set the stage to transform their union.

The DC women streetcar operators of World War II [March 20, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: In the midst of a World War II shortage of operators and a campaign by African Americans to integrate the operator ranks, the transit company hires women for the first time to pilot the city’s streetcars and buses.

The fight against Capital Transit’s Jim Crow hiring: 1941-55 [October 14, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: The long struggle to integrate Washington’s Capital Transit Company operator ranks—from World War II to the early years of the modern civil rights movement.

U.S. National Domestic Politics and Issues

Native Americans take over the Bureau of Indian Affairs [Originally published November 29, 1972 in the Montgomery Spark by Bob Simpson. Republished March 26, 2013 with added photographs]: An account contemporaneous with events of the Native American Trail of Broken Treaties demonstration and subsequent seizure of the Bureau of Indian Affairs that ended peacefully despite both sides arming themselves during the confrontation.

Unemployed

Police break up unemployed protest at the White House: 1930 [February 26, 2013 by the editor]: A short account of President Herbert Hoover’s response to a 1930 demonstration by the unemployed sponsored by the Communist Party outside the White House. Hoover would gain notoriety and ultimately be defeated for what the public perceived as his callous attitude toward the social conditions created by the Great Depression.

Veterans 

No posts at this time

Vietnam War

Miami means fight back: 1972 [Originally published in the Montgomery Spark, Vol. 2, No. 1, September 6, 1972 by Bob Simpson. Republished April 26, 2014 with additional photographs}: A first hand account of a group of Maryland radicals dubbed The Route One Brigade that traveled to Miami, Fl. to protest at the 1972 Republican convention.

30 Days in May: U. of Md. 1970 [August, 1970 by the Democratic Radical Union of Maryland. Originally published in The Radical Guide to the University of Maryland, 1970. Republished May 29, 2013 with an introduction and postscript by the editor and added photographs]: A contemporaneous account of the transformation of the sleepy southern campus at the University of Maryland into a hotbed of radicalism that brought the National Guard onto campus to quell protests for three consecutive years

The 1969 Nixon Inauguration: horse manure, rocks and a pig [January 9, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: An account of President Richard Nixon’s first Inauguration from the point of view of anti-Vietnam War protesters and how it helped change the movement from protest to confrontation.

Women’s Rights

The DC women streetcar operators of World War II [March 20, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: In the midst of a World War II shortage of operators and a campaign by African Americans to integrate the operator ranks, the transit company hires women for the first time to pilot the city’s streetcars and buses.

Cock Rock – The rape of our culture [Originally published October 1972 in the Montgomery Spark by Bob Simpson. Republished February 12, 2013 with additional images]: A view from the left of the debasing of women by male rock music.

When abortion was legalized: one woman’s experience [Originally published February 1972 in the Montgomery Spark by an anonymous woman. It was republished January 15, 2013]: A woman’s experience with abortion shortly after the procedure was legalized in the District of Columbia followed by her reflections 40 years later.

Washington Area Spark

Washington Area Spark – Flickr photo collection guide [October 4, 2017 by the editor]: A finding aid for photographs and other images on the Washington Area Spark Flickr site]

2000 historic photos of DC activism now online [January 26, 2016 by the editor]: Links to some of the most popular and interesting photo collections on the Washington Area Spark Flickr site]

Vintage Washington Area Spark comes back to life 1971-75 [October 13, 2015 by the editor]: a brief description of the original Washington Area Spark and On The Move newspapers and links to PDFs of the tabloid.

A million and counting… [February 15, 2015 by the editor]: A post highlighting some of the popular an interesting photo sets from Spark’s Flickr collection.

Spark 1st Quarter in Review [April 3, 2013, by the editor]: A recap of posts that were published during the first three months of 2013 with brief descriptions and links.

Spark 4th quarter in review [December 26, 2012 by the editor]: A brief summary of the Washington Area Spark blog posts for the previous three months].

Welcome to Washington Area Spark [October 13, 2012 by the editor]: The opening post that gives a brief description of the blog and its mission.

A Million & Counting…

15 Feb

[Update January 2019: We are now over four million photo views and have added some additional finding aids. Camera Roll – by date of the event or creation of the image; Photo Album Guide – by subject; and Individual people by last name.]

One million photo views and counting on our Flickr site. We’re frankly surprised at the interest in the history of the struggle for social and economic justice in the greater Washington, D.C. area.

Each photo has a short description. Groups of related photos are organized into albums. Each album–sometimes a specific event and sometimes a group of related images–have a longer description that puts the images in context. We also publish this blog for a deep dive look behind selected images.

You can see our photo stream organized by date the image was uploaded or check out individual albums. Check out our in-depth blog posts that are organized by the decade (on right of this page or simply scroll down).

Some of our most popular photo albums are:

Blacks, Whites Protest Job Losses: 1930 No. 2D.C. Protests Against Unemployment:

The first nationwide response to the Great Depression occurred March 6, 1930, including a picket line at the White House in Washington, D.C. Looking for more unemployment protests? 1935, 1937, 1940, 1973, 1977.

Harassment at Arlington, Virginia Sit-In: 1960

1960s Civil Rights Protests in the D.C. Area:

District of Columbia public accommodations were largely integrated in the mid 1950s but the surrounding suburbs remained bastions of segregation. Arlington, Rockville, Bowie, Glen Echo, Bethesda, College Park, Silver Spring were but a few of the towns that saw sit-ins, pickets and arrests demanding equality. Read a brief biography of one of these pioneers, Dion Diamond.

Klan Protests Black Minister In Camp Springs MD: 1966The Fight Against the Klan and Nazis in the D.C. area:

The Ku Klux Klan was active throughout the 1960s opposing civil rights and antiwar efforts (one person’s experience). So too was the American Nazi Party. See photos of confrontation in Arlington, Glen Echo, Mt. Ranier, Camp Springs, Frederick and Rising Sun.

March for Capital Transit Jobs: 1943 (Photo 16)The Washington, D.C. Area Transit Union:

Interest has been high in the struggle to desegregate Washington’s transit system (background story), women streetcar and bus operators during World War II (background story), and in strikes conducted by member of the Amalgamated Transit Union in 1974 and 1978. As the 100th anniversary of ATU Local 689 approaches, check back in the coming year as we post images from early efforts in 19th century to form a union and strikes in 1916, 1917, 1945, 1951 and 1955.

Increasingly Viewed

Negro Congress Pickets Bilbo: 1946

Civil Rights Struggles before 1960: 

Little known today, they helped lay the groundwork for the mass demonstrations, boycotts, sit-ins, pickets and other forms of protest that broke down the worst aspects of segregation in our area: 1922 Anti-Lynching Protest (background story), 1933 March for Scottsboro (background story), 1936 Police Brutality Protests (background story), 1940 Gone with the Wind pickets, 1941 Police Brutality Protest (background story), Integration of D.C. Theaters (background story), The Fight for Fair Employment, The Fight Against the Poll Tax, 1946 Protests Against Sen.Bilbo, 1946 Anti-Lynching Protests, the effort to Free Willie McGee and the Martinsville 7, Mary Church Terrell, the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, among others.

U of MD Ignites: 1970 # 1

Anti-Vietnam War Demonstrations:

The movement against the Vietnam War involved hundreds of thousands of people across the country. Check out the first mass marches on D.C in 1965, The march on the Pentagon in 1967, The Counter-Inaugural in 1969 (background story), University of Md protests in 1970 (background story), 1971, 1972, Mayday protests to shut down the government in 1971 – May 1, May 2, May 3, May 4, May 5, a 1972 march on the Pentagon and 1972 rally downtown, the 1973 Counter-Inaugural and the last demonstration against the Vietnam War in D.C. in 1975. See earlier 1941 and 1958 antiwar protests.

Background

We felt there was historical gap between the internet era and the print era in the struggles for social justice.

We started by publishing photos and negatives that had been improperly stored from the 1972-1975 Montgomery Spark, Washington Area Spark and On The Move tabloid newspapers.  We followed up by researching images available from various sources including the Library of Congress, the D.C. Public Library, the National Archives and auctioned photographs. And occasionally we publish longer blog posts that give a more detailed look.

See all the images in albums or in the order they were posted.

Navigation

1 Jul

Quick links to blog posts by subject

Striking steelworkers pose for group shot at Mineral Pigment in Beltsville, MD 1973. Note copy of Washington Area Spark in foreground.

Anarchism and Syndicalism

No posts at this time

Antiwar

(See Vietnam War for Indochina conflict)

Unbowed and unbroken Debs comes to Washington: 1921 [January 10, 2016 by JW] A brief description of Socialist Eugene Debs Washington, D.C. visit following his release from prison for opposing World War I.

Civil Liberties

Against the cold wind: The 1948 cafeteria workers strike [January 2, 2018 by Craig Simpson]: 1,400 members of a predominantly African American union in Jim Crow Washington, D.C. take on both a company intent on union busting and the Taft Hartley Act in a 78-day strike in the frigid winter of 1948 that included battles on the picket line, between the AFL and the CIO, and between President Harry Truman and Congress.

DC police raid 1948 fundraiser by Progressive Party supporters [March 6, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: An account of a relatively minor event at the beginning of the second Red Scare that illustrates the repression that was to come for the next ten years.

Police break up unemployed protest at the White House: 1930 [February 26, 2013 by the editor]: A short account of President Herbert Hoover’s response to a 1930 demonstration by the unemployed sponsored by the Communist Party outside the White House. Hoover would gain notoriety and ultimately be defeated for what the public perceived as his callous attitude toward the social conditions created by the Great Depression.

A DC labor and civil rights leader remembered: Marie Richardson [November 19, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: Marie Richardson Harris is believed to be the first African American woman to hold national office for a major labor union. She later spearheaded Washington, D.C.’s National Negro Congress and was jailed for four-and-a-half years during the McCarthy era.

Washington Free Press battles suppression: 1969-70 [November 7, 2012 by Craig Simpson] A spunky underground D.C. publication battles authorities to its death, but not before knocking down repressive restrictions on free speech and a free press.

Civil Rights and Black Liberation Before 1955

Origins of the civil rights sit-in: U.S. Capitol: 1934 [February 26, 2018 by Craig Simpson]: Small interracial parties seek to dine at the House of Representatives and Senate Jim Crow restaurants in 1934. After 10 days of these direct action protests, 30 students from Howard University come to the Capitol to challenge Jim Crow. It is the earliest organized, sustained civil rights sit-in campaign in the D.C area and probably the country.

Against the cold wind: The 1948 cafeteria workers strike [January 2, 2018 by Craig Simpson]: 1,400 members of a predominantly African American union in Jim Crow Washington, D.C. take on both a company intent on union busting and the Taft Hartley Act in a 78-day strike in the frigid winter of 1948 that included battles on the picket line, between the AFL and the CIO, and between President Harry Truman and Congress.

DC’s fighting barber and the end of public school segregation [August 20, 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: A look at Gardner Bishop and the Consolidated Parents group that ended legal segregation of schools in the District of Columbia through boycotts picketing and a legal strategy separate from Brown v. Board of Education.

Shootings by DC police spark fight against brutality, 1936-41 [April 20, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: An account of an early civil rights struggle in Washington, D.C. that united the African American community from the NAACP to the Communist Party and implemented many of the tactics that are still used today.

DC’s old Jim Crow rocked by 1939 Marian Anderson concert [March 14, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: A view of the celebrated struggle against the Jim Crow Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall from the viewpoint of activists. It’s a different one than often told where First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt and Interior Secretary Harold Ickes save the day.

“Scottsboro Boys” – New tactics and strategy for civil rights [February 19, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: The campaign around the “Scottsboro Boys” – nine African American youths accused of raping two Alabama white women—marked the beginning of the civil rights movement out of the churches and into the streets. This account of activities in Washington, D.C. outlines civil disobedience, marches and petition campaigns involving broad coalitions that saved the lives of the nine young men.

Before 1963: The 1922 silent march on Washington [February 6, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: A brief history of the first major African American march on Washington that was held to call for a federal anti-lynching law.

600 black women stand strong: the 1938 crab pickers strike [December 5, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: The amazing struggle of 600 black women led by a communist organizer to improve their conditions and win a union on Maryland’s Jim Crow Eastern Shore. The account is followed by a description of an amazing set of photographs of Crisfield during that time and an account of the communist CIO organizer Michael Howard.

The fight against Capital Transit’s Jim Crow hiring: 1941-55 [October 14, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: The long struggle to integrate Washington’s Capital Transit Company operator ranks—from World War II to the early years of the modern civil rights movement.

A DC labor and civil rights leader remembered: Marie Richardson [November 19, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: Marie Richardson Harris is believed to be the first African American woman to hold national office for a major labor union. She later spearheaded Washington, D.C.’s National Negro Congress and was jailed for four-and-a-half years during the McCarthy era.

Civil Rights and Black Liberation After 1955

The D.C. black liberation movement seen through the life of Reginald H. Booker [January 28, 2020 by Craig G. Simpson] The author takes you through the long activist career of D.C. black nationalist Reginald Booker who led the fight against new freeways in the city, for public takeover of the private D.C. Transit, for building the Metrorail system, for hiring, upgrading and promoting black people in the construction industry and the federal and District of Columbia government. A prominent member of the Black United Front, he also led fights against police brutality among a host of other rights issues.

Observations at a 1965 Md. Klan rally [October 28, 2019, originally published in the Afro American November 27, 1965 by Mae Rankin] An observer goes to a Klan rally in Rising Sun, Md. and notes with unease the ordinary-looking people and the hate that they embrace.

Contradictions in the cause: Glen Echo, Maryland 1960 [June 26, 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: A behind the scenes look at the internal conflicts within the storied movement to desegregate the Glen Echo Amusement Park.

Raging civil rights struggle leads to union victories: Cambridge Md. 1963 [May 31, 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: The fierce civil rights struggle that involved armed fighting by blacks and whites and a three-year occupation by the Maryland National Guard leads to unity among workers.

Crazy Dion Diamond: A 1960 Rights Warrior in the Suburbs [January 20, 2013 by the editor]: A brief summary of the activities of one of the civil rights activists in Washington, D.C. in the early 1960s. It is followed by an excerpt from Kwame Ture about an incident in a southern jail with Dion Diamond.

Standing against the Maryland Klan 1971: a personal experience [January 2, 2013 by Bob Simpson, cross-posted in the Daily Kos]: A view of the Maryland Klan and one individual’s decision to confront the group at a Klan picnic and cross burning in Rising Sun, Maryland.

The Black Panther Party Revolutionary People’s Convention: November 1970 [November 25, 2012 by the editor]: The turning point in the Black Panther Party’s influence is told through illustrations of the event.

Communists

Against the cold wind: The 1948 cafeteria workers strike [January 2, 2018 by Craig Simpson]: 1,400 members of a predominantly African American union in Jim Crow Washington, D.C. take on both a company intent on union busting and the Taft Hartley Act in a 78-day strike in the frigid winter of 1948 that included battles on the picket line, between the AFL and the CIO, and between President Harry Truman and Congress.

Paddy Whalen and the Midnight March of the Baltimore Brigade [February 4 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: The port of Baltimore’s leader of the seamen, Paddy Whalen, exerted a powerful influence on all of Maryland’s and the District of Columbia’s labor and civil rights struggles.

DC police raid 1948 fundraiser by Progressive Party supporters [March 6, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: An account of a relatively minor event at the beginning of the second Red Scare that illustrates the repression that was to come for the next ten years.

Shootings by DC police spark fight against brutality, 1936-41 [April 20, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: An account of an early civil rights struggle in Washington, D.C. that united the African American community from the NAACP to the Communist Party and implemented many of the tactics that are still used today.

Police break up unemployed protest at the White House: 1930 [February 26, 2013 by the editor]: A short account of President Herbert Hoover’s response to a 1930 demonstration by the unemployed sponsored by the Communist Party outside the White House. Hoover would gain notoriety and ultimately be defeated for what the public perceived as his callous attitude toward the social conditions created by the Great Depression.

“Scottsboro Boys” – New tactics and strategy for civil rights [February 19, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: The campaign around the “Scottsboro Boys” – nine African American youths accused of raping two Alabama white women—marked the beginning of the civil rights movement out of the churches and into the streets. This account of activities in Washington, D.C. outlines civil disobedience, marches and petition campaigns involving broad coalitions that saved the lives of the nine young men.

600 black women stand strong: the 1938 crab pickers strike [December 5, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: The amazing struggle of 600 black women led by a communist organizer to improve their conditions and win a union on Maryland’s Jim Crow Eastern Shore. The account is followed by a description of an amazing set of photographs of Crisfield during that time and an account of the communist CIO organizer Michael Howard.

A DC labor and civil rights leader remembered: Marie Richardson [November 19, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: Marie Richardson Harris is believed to be the first African American woman to hold national office for a major labor union. She later spearheaded Washington, D.C.’s National Negro Congress and was jailed for four-and-a-half years during the McCarthy era.

D.C. Area Miscellaneous

Cock Rock – The rape of our culture [Originally published October 1972 in the Montgomery Spark by Bob Simpson. Republished February 12, 2013 with additional images]: A view from the left of the debasing of women by male rock music.

Fight Against Fascism

Observations at a 1965 Md. Klan rally [October 28, 2019, originally published in the Afro American November 27, 1965 by Mae Rankin] An observer goes to a Klan rally in Rising Sun, Md. and notes with unease the ordinary-looking people and the hate that they embrace.

Standing against the Maryland Klan 1971: a personal experience [January 2, 2013 by Bob Simpson, cross-posted in the Daily Kos]: A view of the Maryland Klan and one individual’s decision to confront the group at a Klan picnic and cross burning in Rising Sun, Maryland.

Immigrant Rights

No posts at this time

 LBGT

MoCo gay teacher fired 1972; justice denied for 40 years [December 20, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: Joe Acanfora, an early gay student activist, is barred from teaching in Montgomery County, Maryland public schools causing a nationwide examination of the issue.

Maryland marriage equality: over 50 years in the making [November 14, 2012 by the editor]: A brief photo history of some of the LGBT liberation struggles in the Washington, D.C. area on the occasion of the passage of Maryland’s marriage equality act.

Labor Movement

The Washington Telephone Traffic Union and its Leader Mary Gannon–1935-47 [February 8, 2022 by Craig G. Simpson]: During the period 1944-47 the Washington Telephone Traffic Union was the most militant trade union in the city staging dozens of work stoppages. It was  led by a dynamic woman who was a forceful advocate of equal pay, of greater representation of women in the  national union and a strong national union to take on the monopoly AT&T system.

George Davis and the Turbulent Times of the D.C. Area Transit Union–1974-80 (March 16, 2020 by Craig Simpson): For six turbulent years, George Davis headed the local transit union through three illegal strikes, a work slowdown and rank and file caucuses to oppose his leadership following the formation of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. 

Against the cold wind: The 1948 cafeteria workers strike [January 2, 2018 by Craig Simpson]: 1,400 members of a predominantly African American union in Jim Crow Washington, D.C. take on both a company intent on union busting and the Taft Hartley Act in a 78-day strike in the frigid winter of 1948 that included battles on the picket line, between the AFL and the CIO, and between President Harry Truman and Congress.

Raging civil rights struggle leads to union victories: Cambridge Md. 1963 [May 31, 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: The fierce civil rights struggle that involved armed fighting by blacks and whites and a three-year occupation by the Maryland National Guard leads to unity among workers.

Strike wave at Washington, D.C.’s Capital Transit: 1945 [May 10, 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: In the midst of a struggle over integration and pent-up wage demands following World War II, transit workers in Washington wage a battle to better their conditions and in the process set the stage to transform their union.

Paddy Whalen and the Midnight March of the Baltimore Brigade [February 4 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: The port of Baltimore’s leader of the seamen, Paddy Whalen, exerted a powerful influence on all of Maryland’s and the District of Columbia’s labor and civil rights struggles.

The 1937 Phillips Packinghouse strike – Promise and defeat [September 18, 2014 by Daniel Hardin]: An account of interracial solidarity during a long effort to unionize packinghouse workers on Maryland’s Jim Crow Eastern Shore.

Washington Post strike at the crossroads, December 1975 [December 12, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: An examination of the strengths and weaknesses of Post strike–one of the greatest defeats suffered by labor in the Washington, D.C. area.

600 black women stand strong: the 1938 crab pickers strike [December 5, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: The amazing struggle of 600 black women led by a communist organizer to improve their conditions and win a union on Maryland’s Jim Crow Eastern Shore. The account is followed by a description of an amazing set of photographs of Crisfield during that time and an account of the communist CIO organizer Michael Howard.

A DC labor and civil rights leader remembered: Marie Richardson [November 19, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: Marie Richardson Harris is believed to be the first African American woman to hold national office for a major labor union. She later spearheaded Washington, D.C.’s National Negro Congress and was jailed for four-and-a-half years during the McCarthy era.

Meatcutters strike betrayed: October 24, 1973 [October 24, 2012 by the editor]: A brief description of a Washington, D.C. meat cutters strike in which the national Teamsters Union refused to honor picket lines, dooming the walkout to failure.

For a moment in time….Mineral Pigment strike October 19, 1973 [October 19, 2012 by the editor]: A slide show of one day when worker power held the company at bay (no longer supported in WordPress, but the photos can be seen at our Flickr site).

The fight against Capital Transit’s Jim Crow hiring: 1941-55 [October 14, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: The long struggle to integrate Washington’s Capital Transit Company operator ranks—from World War II to the early years of the modern civil rights movement.

Marijuana

No posts at this time

Miscellaneous

No posts at this time

National Liberation and Anti-Imperialism

(for Indochina War, see Vietnam War)

No posts at this time

Native Americans

Native Americans Take Over the Bureau of Indian Affairs: 1972 [March 26, 2013 by Bob Simpson] This was published in the original Montgomery Spark November 29, 1972 and offers an account written at the time of the Trail of Broken Treaties and the takeover of the Bureau of Indian Affairs by Native Americans.

Prison Rights

No posts at this time

Slave Resistance/Revolts/Military Action

Maryland slaves make a bold bid for freedom: July 7-8, 1845 [July 2 2015 by the editor]: An account of upwards of a hundred Maryland slaves that armed themselves and staged a quick time march toward freedom in Pennsylvania.

Socialism

Unbowed and unbroken Debs comes to Washington: 1921 [January 10, 2016 by JW] A brief description of Socialist Eugene Debs Washington, D.C. visit following his release from prison for opposing World War I.

Students

Miami means fight back: 1972 [Originally published in the Montgomery Spark, Vol. 2, No. 1, September 6, 1972 by Bob Simpson. Republished April 26, 2014 with additional photographs}: A first hand account of a group of Maryland radicals dubbed The Route One Brigade that traveled to Miami, Fl. to protest at the 1972 Republican convention.

30 Days in May: U. of Md. 1970 [August, 1970 by the Democratic Radical Union of Maryland. Originally published in The Radical Guide to the University of Maryland, 1970. Republished May 29, 2014 with an introduction and postscript by the editor and added photographs]: A contemporaneous account of the transformation of the sleepy southern campus at the University of Maryland into a hotbed of radicalism that brought the National Guard onto campus to quell protests for three consecutive years

Transit in the D.C. Area

George Davis and the Turbulent Times of the D.C. Area Transit Union–1974-80 (March 16, 2020 by Craig Simpson): For six turbulent years, George Davis headed the local transit union through three illegal strikes, a work slowdown and rank and file caucuses to oppose his leadership following the formation of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. 

Strike wave at Washington, D.C.’s Capital Transit: 1945 [May 10, 2015 by Daniel Hardin]: In the midst of a struggle over integration and pent-up wage demands following World War II, transit workers in Washington wage a battle to better their conditions and in the process set the stage to transform their union.

The DC women streetcar operators of World War II [March 20, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: In the midst of a World War II shortage of operators and a campaign by African Americans to integrate the operator ranks, the transit company hires women for the first time to pilot the city’s streetcars and buses.

The fight against Capital Transit’s Jim Crow hiring: 1941-55 [October 14, 2012 by Craig Simpson]: The long struggle to integrate Washington’s Capital Transit Company operator ranks—from World War II to the early years of the modern civil rights movement.

U.S. National Domestic Politics and Issues

Native Americans take over the Bureau of Indian Affairs [Originally published November 29, 1972 in the Montgomery Spark by Bob Simpson. Republished March 26, 2013 with added photographs]: An account contemporaneous with events of the Native American Trail of Broken Treaties demonstration and subsequent seizure of the Bureau of Indian Affairs that ended peacefully despite both sides arming themselves during the confrontation.

Unemployed

Police break up unemployed protest at the White House: 1930 [February 26, 2013 by the editor]: A short account of President Herbert Hoover’s response to a 1930 demonstration by the unemployed sponsored by the Communist Party outside the White House. Hoover would gain notoriety and ultimately be defeated for what the public perceived as his callous attitude toward the social conditions created by the Great Depression.

Veterans 

No posts at this time

Vietnam War

Miami means fight back: 1972 [Originally published in the Montgomery Spark, Vol. 2, No. 1, September 6, 1972 by Bob Simpson. Republished April 26, 2014 with additional photographs}: A first hand account of a group of Maryland radicals dubbed The Route One Brigade that traveled to Miami, Fl. to protest at the 1972 Republican convention.

30 Days in May: U. of Md. 1970 [August, 1970 by the Democratic Radical Union of Maryland. Originally published in The Radical Guide to the University of Maryland, 1970. Republished May 29, 2013 with an introduction and postscript by the editor and added photographs]: A contemporaneous account of the transformation of the sleepy southern campus at the University of Maryland into a hotbed of radicalism that brought the National Guard onto campus to quell protests for three consecutive years

The 1969 Nixon Inauguration: horse manure, rocks and a pig [January 9, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: An account of President Richard Nixon’s first Inauguration from the point of view of anti-Vietnam War protesters and how it helped change the movement from protest to confrontation.

Women’s Rights

The Washington Telephone Traffic Union and its Leader Mary Gannon–1935-47 [February 8, 2022 by Craig G. Simpson]: During the period 1944-47 the Washington Telephone Traffic Union was the most militant trade union in the city staging dozens of work stoppages. It was  led by a dynamic woman who was a forceful advocate of equal pay, of greater representation of women in the  national union and a strong national union to take on the monopoly AT&T system.

The DC women streetcar operators of World War II [March 20, 2013 by Craig Simpson]: In the midst of a World War II shortage of operators and a campaign by African Americans to integrate the operator ranks, the transit company hires women for the first time to pilot the city’s streetcars and buses.

Cock Rock – The rape of our culture [Originally published October 1972 in the Montgomery Spark by Bob Simpson. Republished February 12, 2013 with additional images]: A view from the left of the debasing of women by male rock music.

When abortion was legalized: one woman’s experience [Originally published February 1972 in the Montgomery Spark by an anonymous woman. It was republished January 15, 2013]: A woman’s experience with abortion shortly after the procedure was legalized in the District of Columbia followed by her reflections 40 years later.

Washington Area Spark

Happy 10th Birthday to Washington Area Spark [January 24, 2021 by the editor] The post recounts some of the highlights of the 10 years since the first photos images were uploaded and features links to collections of images, blog posts, documents and periodicals on the Spark website .

Extensive Collection of D.C. and National Alternative Periodicals Now Posted [June 28, 2020 by the editor]: Announcing an expanding alternative periodicals page that includes most issues of the Washington Free Press, Quicksilver Times, local GI newspapers, national periodicals like The Black Panther and the SDS New Left Notes as well as links to D.C. area feminist and LGBTQ publications.

Five million photo views…What’s next for Washington Area Spark? [November 20, 2019 by the editor]: Marking a milestone of 5 million photo views of nearly 4,000 images plus nearly 100,000 views of blog posts. Contains plans for upcoming posts and website improvements.

Links to individuals portrayed in our images are now complete [October 26, 2019 by the editor]: All 2,000 links to individuals identified have been added and verified.

Welcome to our overhauled website [March 4, 2019 by the editor]: New features are added including a list of individuals identified in our photos and links to each, a new documents tab with descriptions of each document and links to PDFs.

Washington Area Spark – Flickr photo collection guide [October 4, 2017 by the editor]: A finding aid for photographs and other images on the Washington Area Spark Flickr site]

2000 historic photos of DC activism now online [January 26, 2016 by the editor]: Links to some of the most popular and interesting photo collections on the Washington Area Spark Flickr site]

Vintage Washington Area Spark comes back to life 1971-75 [October 13, 2015 by the editor]: a brief description of the original Washington Area Spark and On The Move newspapers and links to PDFs of the tabloid.

A million and counting… [February 15, 2015 by the editor]: A post highlighting some of the popular an interesting photo sets from Spark’s Flickr collection.

Spark 1st Quarter in Review [April 3, 2013, by the editor]: A recap of posts that were published during the first three months of 2013 with brief descriptions and links.

Spark 4th quarter in review [December 26, 2012 by the editor]: A brief summary of the Washington Area Spark blog posts for the previous three months].

Welcome to Washington Area Spark [October 13, 2012 by the editor]: The opening post that gives a brief description of the blog and its mission.

Oh, you wanted to see our images

They are organized in the following manner:

The most recent images posted going all the way back to our first posted image.

In order of the most recently dated image of an event or individual going all the way back to the oldest dated image

By albums, which are groups of images that are related or of the same event.

For albums with hyperlinks organized by subject, see the image album tab at the top of the page.

For an alphabetical list of specific individuals (a work(in progress) , see the individuals tab at the top of the page

You didn’t know we had videos?

Check out our videos on youtube

Want to stay in touch so you get the latest posts?

Follow our posts on Facebook by “liking” our page

Subscribe to our flickr feed by clicking on the “follow” button at the top of the Flickr page.

Follow our posts by e-mail by hitting the “Follow” button on the right of your computer screen or near the bottom of your mobile screen

Follow our posts by hitting the “Follow” button at the top of the WordPress page.

No luck?

E-mail us at Washington_Area_Spark@yahoo.com and we’ll see if we can help you.

Contradictions in the Cause: Glen Echo Maryland 1960

26 Jun

Glen Echo Integration Picket Line: 1960

Protesters demand Glen Echo admit African Americans in 1960.

By Daniel Hardin

The story of the effort to end segregation at Glen Echo Amusement Park in Montgomery County, Maryland 55 years ago is an inspiring one that continues to be celebrated today.

A mixed group of black and white college students from the local Nonviolent Action Group (NAG) began picketing the facility in June 1960 calling for an end to the privately owned park’s policy of barring African Americans.

The neighboring residents of the overwhelmingly white and majority Jewish community of Bannockburn joined them. Together they sustained the picket lines through the summer heat in the face of American Nazi Party counter demonstrators until the owners gave in and finally desegregated the facility the following spring.

The effort involved harassment and arrests and resulted in a precedent setting court case establishing that an off-duty sheriff deputy employed as a park guard conducting the arrests at the behest of the park owners was in fact an agent of the state. Such use of a state agent to enforce segregation was illegal, the Supreme Court ruled in 1964. It was a resounding victory all the way around–both in the social forces involved and the outcome.

Lost in the re-telling of the story is how some white participants worked to depose the black leader of NAG in the middle of the Glen Echo fight and replace him with one more palatable to the Kennedy-Johnson presidential ticket that opposed enacting national legislation on civil rights. The successful attempt, in turn, sowed some of the seeds of the black power movement later in the decade.

Background to Glen Echo Protest

The storied Glen Echo Amusement Park opened in 1891 as a segregated facility featuring concerts and other arts performances. Streetcar service to Glen Echo began the same year. The park didn’t fare well featuring performing arts and converted to an amusement park in the early twentieth century.

At the time Glen Echo opened, the reversal of African American gains during the Reconstruction period was at its peak and both terror and new segregationist laws were enforcing Jim Crow.

The nascent civil rights movement in the Washington area tried a number of tactics to fight the renewed denial of the rights of African Americans ranging from protests against lynching to armed self-defense during the Washington “riot” of 1919.

Scottsboro pickets clash with police at Supreme Court: 1932

An unauthorized march to “Free the Scottsboro Boys” at the Supreme Court in 1932 introduces civil disobedience to the early rights movement.

The tactic of civil disobedience for civil rights was introduced in Washington, D.C. during the Scottsboro campaign in 1932 when communists staged a prohibited march on the Supreme Court.

The boycott was introduced during the 1930s in a campaign to force those doing business in the black community to hire African Americans. District of Columbia residents also employed a wide range of methods in a fight against police brutality 1938-41.

Picket lines and court cases largely de-segregated public facilities within the District of Columbia during the 1940s and 50s, but the suburbs remained bastions of segregation.

The sit-in tactic was utilized at the Alexandria, Virginia public library in 1939, but the approach was not adopted on a widespread basis either in the Washington, D.C. area or around the country.

However, the use of the tactic exploded when four African American students from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University began a movement when they staged a sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina on February 1, 1960.

Origins of the Nonviolent Action Group

At the same time, a 25-year old divinity student was forming a group dedicated to civil rights action at Howard University. Laurence Henry led a small group of Howard students who were joined by students from other area colleges to picket the Capitol in March 1960 demanding movement on a federal civil rights bill. The organization was named the Nonviolent Action Group (NAG).

The picket line was completely ignored and Henry concluded that picketing targets like the Capitol and the White House were a “waste of time,” according to the Washington Post.

Arrested for Arlington Sit-In: 1960

Laurence Henry (right) arrested at a sit-in at Howard Johnson in Arlington, Virginia June 10, 1960 during the desegregation campaign.

Instead Henry decided to emulate the Greensboro sit-ins. He first targeted Alexandria, Va., which responded by agreeing to undertake a quick desegregation study composed of black leaders and white businesses in return for a postponement of demonstrations. Henry agreed and moved NAG’s first sit-in to Arlington, Virginia. On June 9th a small interracial group began a sit in at a People’s Drug Store and quickly spread to other restaurants and lunch counters in that city.

They were confronted by up to 300 residents organized by the American Nazi Party and several arrests by police, including Henry. However the demonstrators continued their sit-ins for two weeks until most major chain stores agreed to desegregate. Alexandria city officials quickly announced that chain stores and restaurants in the town would also desegregate and Fairfax County gave similar notice a week later.

Glen Echo Protests Begin

Kids Celebrate Day at Glen Echo Park: 1947

Washington Star news carriers enjoying themselves in segregated Glen Echo in 1947.

Fresh from victory in Virginia, the group picked Glen Echo Park in Montgomery County, Maryland as its next target. Glen Echo was a high-profile segregated facility and it was believed victory there would start the rest of the dominos in the Maryland suburbs tumbling.

The protests began early in the day on June 30th when two African American young women, Maudie Parker and Louise York, entered the park and were ordered to leave.

After the young women complied with the order, NAG leader Laurence Henry moved toward the gate and was halted by park security chief Francis J. Collins. A WWDC radio reporter recorded the conversation as follows: Collins: “What race do you belong to?” to which Henry responded, “I belong to the human race.”

Collins barred admittance and an integrated group of 60 people set up a picket line, carrying signs that read, “Glen Echo Should Echo Democracy” and “End Jim Crow at Glen Echo.”

Demonstrators enter the park

Henry soon defied Collins and led a group of about two-dozen into the park to The Ranch restaurant, which promptly closed down. About a dozen protesters moved onto the merry-go-round after white supporters bought tickets for the group.

Arrest on the Carousel at Glen Echo Park: 1960

Francis Collins places Marvous Saunders under arrest on the Glen Echo carousel June 30, 1960.

Collins, who was also a Montgomery County deputy sheriff, placed five African Americans under arrest after they refused to leave the ride within five minutes of his order to do so. Those arrested were Gwendolyn Greene (Britt), Cecil Washington, Marvous Saunders, Michael Proctor and William Griffin.

The demonstrations lasted about three hours on the first day, but it was just the first of hundreds of hours of picketing that involved assaults by the American Nazi Party and more arrests by police, Henry was beaten and arrested by police August 3rd in Glen Echo. In the county jail he joined fellow NAG member Dion Diamond in a hunger strike before police released the pair August 5th.

A number of residents from the nearby community of Bannockburn quickly joined in the picketing. Bannockburn was a close-knit progressive community, including many residents of the Jewish faith and several labor union leaders.

Counter demonstrators from the American Nazi Party showed up as well, broadcasting their messages of hate and attacking civil rights demonstrators with their fists from time to time. However, the Nazi’s presence probably increased support for the civil rights demonstrators.

Community brings new resources

Confidence in the Cause: Glen Echo, MD 1960

Nazis counter demonstrat0rs at Glen Echo while lone picket for civil rights passes by July 11, 1960.

The residents built their own support network and began supplying picketers to help sustain the lines. On many days they were the only ones picketing.

Irene Stambler, one of the residents remembered in a 2005 interview with Washington Jewish Week that the Bannockburn community provided food, permitted protesters to use bathrooms in their homes and “served lots and lots of lemonade” during the hot, humid summer weather.

Gwendolyn Britt, one of those arrested on the carousel and an early NAG activist, said, “”I have to applaud the community and the residents for joining in and supporting our action, for insisting that residents did not sit idly by,” according to WJW.

In addition to the logistical support, the Bannockburn community brought political connections that NAG lacked. Herman Bookbinder, another Bannockburn resident who was then a lobbyist for the AFL-CIO and later joined the Kennedy administration, brought high-profile rights activists into the fight.

Some other prominent people also lent support. Entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. agreed to do a fundraiser for legal defense of those arrested, which NAG leader Henry estimated at 43 people at the time. The only African American U.S. congressman, Adam Clayton Powell (D-NY) also weighed in.

Perhaps most importantly, the Bannockburn community began to bring political pressure on the Montgomery County Council to cease busing students to Glen Echo as part of its recreation program. “It was natural that our community was responsive to it…It responded beautifully, both Jews and non-Jews,” Bookbinder said in the WJW article.

Laurence Henry

Jackie Robinson with Laurence G. Henry: 1962

Laurence Henry (right) with baseball great Jackie Robinson in Baltimore in 1963.

Laurence Henry was born in Philadelphia, Pa. in 1934 as one of 11 children to Walter L. and Vera Robinson Henry who raised their sons and daughters to excel.

Henry, an African American divinity student at Howard, was part of a new generation that demanded civil rights now and didn’t have the patience for incremental change that was advocated by many of the movement’s elder leaders.

During the Glen Echo picketing of 1960, Henry attended a meeting on civil rights sponsored by the NAACP in Washington, D.C. that was attended by a number of prominent leaders and celebrities. Jibreel Khazan, one of the Greensboro Four, remembered in a 1979 interview that Henry stood up and said,

I did not come here to drink tea and speak sympathy. I came here to get involved with rights for my people.”

Henry then left the room. Khazan related that people in the room were baffled. They simply had no understanding of what Henry was trying to say. But Henry gave meaning to the words through his actions.

100 Hour Picket at the Hiser Theater in Bethesda, MD: 1960

100 hour picket at the Hiser Theater July 1960.

Henry led other desegregation efforts in Montgomery County that summer, joining Rockville residents led by the Rev. Cecil Bishop in a sit-in at the Hi-Boy Restaurant July 9 that resulted in 25 arrests, but also in desegregation of the restaurant two weeks later.

After four arrests at the Hiser Theater in Bethesda, Henry led a 100-hour picket line July 26-28 to protest the theaters refusal to permit African Americans to view films.

The Civil Rights Bill of 1960

U.S. Senate Democratic and Republican leadership collaborated to pass a weak voting rights bill in 1960. Amendments to make the bill meaningful such as providing for the U.S. Attorney General to file for civil injunctions against officials committing rights violations or for a permanent Commission on Equal Job Opportunity were tabled or defeated by with bi-partisan votes.

NAACP lobbyist Clarence Mitchell wrote, “The Civil Rights Bill passed by Congress failed to meet the NAACP’s standard of a meaningful civil rights bill…” After the bill passed, the Democratic Party adopted a platform at their Presidential nominating convention July 11-15 that contained many of the measures they had fought against adding to the bill. Presidential nominee Sen. John F. Kennedy and vice-presidential nominee Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson were thereby then forced to run on a platform they both opposed.

Bible Answers Race Hate at Sit-In: Arlington VA, 1960

American Nazi Party members and supporters confront Laurence Henry (right) and another protestor during an Arlington sit-in June 9, 1960.

Rights advocates, however, were buoyed by the platform that was not watered down like the usual planks on civil rights.

Republican Senate minority leader Everett Dirksen saw an opening to embarrass Kennedy and Johnson and introduced a series of civil rights measures including federal aid for school districts that voluntarily desegregated and a measure that would establish an agency to enforce equal job opportunity.

Both Kennedy and Johnson, the Senate majority leader, reacted quickly. Kennedy felt he could ill-afford to alienate southern Democrats whom he believed he needed to win the presidency.

Harris Wofford, brought into the Democratic presidential campaign to win the African American vote, devised a strategy for a grand bargain whereby the Democrats would make raising the minimum wage in 1960 their centerpiece while promising civil rights leaders that major rights legislation would be the first order of business for a new Kennedy administration. In the meantime, they would kill the Dirksen initiatives.

They quickly signed up Democratic U.S. Senators and Representatives to support the plan and enlisted liberal Sen. Joseph S. Clark (D-Pa.), a staunch civil rights advocate, to lead the charge. Clark moved to table Senate bill 3823. His motion was adopted by a vote of 54 to 28. This prevented any further action on the bill.

This was the only record vote on civil rights between the adoption of the party platforms and the adjournment of the 86th Congress. Both Kennedy and Johnson went on record voting against taking action on civil rights.

Many of the new civil rights activists viewed this as betrayal. Veterans like Dr. Martin Luther King Sr. and Ralph Abernathy tacitly supported Republican Richard M. Nixon for president. Dirksen had dealt a blow, but it would not prove to be a fatal one.

Henry Plans Sit-in at Democrat’s Office

Henry reacted with outrage and accused Clark of “shaking hands with the devil,” [referring to southern Democrats] when speaking at an August 14 NAACP meeting in the District of Columbia and announced his intention to lead a sit-in at Clark’s office, according to The Evening Star.

Clark denounced Henry’s remarks as “irresponsible.” Some of the Bannockburn residents moved to quickly blunt Henry. At a meeting August 15, they demanded he apologize to Clark. Henry refused–after all as he’d said earlier he wasn’t here to “drink tea and speak sympathy.”

Civil rights leaders bolster line at Glen Echo: 1960

Roy Wilkins, A. Phillip Randolph, Hyman Bookbinder, Laurence Henry and Gwendolyn Greene on picket line at Glen Echo, MD August 17, 1960.

Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps cynically Bookbinder arranged for Roy Wilkins, executive secretary of the NAACP, A. Phillip Randolph, president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, and William Oliver of the United Automobile Workers to walk the picket line August 17 at Glen Echo. Bookbinder was lobbying for the AFL-CIO priority of raising the minimum wage that was part of Wofford’s “grand bargain.”

Bookbinder’s show of power in bringing national rights leaders to the local struggle had its effects on local rights activists. Later in the week, a meeting was arranged between Clark and members of NAG by Bookbinder. The students gave Clark a written apology that extolled Clark as “a major figure in the battle for civil rights legislation,” according to the Washington Post. However, Henry refused to express regret for his remarks.

Henry Removed from Leadership

Montgomery mug shot photo of Laurence Henry: 1960

Laurence Henry’s mug shot from a Montgomery County MD arrest in 1960.

Members of NAG held a meeting August 19 and removed Henry from leadership and designated Howard physics student Woody Jenkins as president. Jenkins said Henry’s plan to sit-in a Clark’s office was the “height of irresponsibility.”

Henry reacted calmly when speaking to the press, “The whole thing is that they claim they haven’t had enough voice, that I’ve been dictating. They wanted to have a hand in policy making.”

But on August 21st during a speech in Washington, African American Congressman Adam Clayton Powell (D-NY) referred to Henry’s ouster and blasted, “an effort to make a certain young man in this town a captive colored man.” Powell had earlier in his talk used “captive” to mean “Uncle Tom.” Powell promised to “present the facts to the public about the people who were forcing this young man to change his stand,” according to the Afro American. Henry was present during Powell’s speech.

Henry stuck to his principles and announced his intention to continue working to desegregate Glen Echo and was quoted in the Star saying, “It’s my project, I’ll be there until the place closes,”

Henry announced plans to march from Washington to Baltimore demanding a federal court injunction against Glen Echo. Leonard Brown, a spokesperson for NAG, denounced the effort saying, “Anything he does in this fashion, he does on his own,” according to the Star. But Henry went ahead with the 12-hour overnight march to the hearing in Baltimore and a number of NAG members joined him, including Gwendolyn Britt, one of those arrested on the carousel at Glen Echo.

Victory at Glen Echo

Judge James H. Pugh Orders Subversion Probe: 1969

Judge James H. Pugh presided over the trial of Glen Echo protesters in 1960.

Picketing did in fact continue into the fall until the park closed for the season. Three days before the park closed, the Montgomery County government agreed to stop busing white children to the Crystal Pool as part of their recreation program.

The park’s owners, Abram and Samuel Baker were seemingly unmoved. “This has always been a segregated park and we intend to keep it that way,” said a park spokesperson according to the Washington Post.

Judge James H. Pugh convicted the five African American students accused of trespassing for using tickets bought by whites to board the merry-go-round. In open court, Pugh justified his decision saying,

Imagine, college students from New York and college students from other places trying to force your ideas on the way other people run their businesses.

The political pressure, however, was building as public opinion increasingly swung against the segregationists. In early 1961, Bookbinder left his job with the AFL-CIO and took a position as assistant to the Secretary of Commerce and prevailed upon new Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy to get involved. Kennedy threatened park owners with revoking the lease that permitted streetcars to service the park.

First Black Children at Glen Echo: 1961

Alfred Beal (l) and Larry Murrell (r) are the first African American children to ride the Glen Echo, MD merry-go-round March 30, 1961.

Shortly afterward, the Baker brothers quietly announced that Glen Echo would open in the spring of 1961 as a desegregated facility. On March 30, 1961 Alfred Beal and Larry Murrell, both age 10, became the first African Americans to ride the carousel at the park.

The case of the five arrested on the carousel made its way to the Supreme Court where attorney Joseph L. Rauh, Jr. argued that the justices should rule the convictions for trespassing were invalid. In 1964, the Court found that Collins was acting as an agent of the County to enforce private segregation and thereby his actions were illegal when he placed the five under arrest.

Kennedy Fails to Keep Promises

Sit-In Vets Demand Civil Rights Legislation: 1960

Veterans of lunch counter sit-ins picket the White House August 15, 1960 demanding action on a civil rights bill.

After tabling the civil rights legislation, Congress also declined to pass a minimum wage increase. The legislative process had failed all participants in the Glen Echo protests in 1960.

Kennedy turned the tables on Nixon by securing much of the African American vote when Wofford convinced him to make a private phone call to Coretta Scott King in October 1960. Mrs. King was expecting a child any day while her husband languished in a Fulton County, Ga. jail. Kennedy expressed sympathy for Mrs. King’s plight and aides promptly leaked the conversation to the press.

The press asked Republican nominee Richard Nixon about King’s jailing and he responded “no comment.” King was released from jail shortly afterward and the word of Kennedy’s unprecedented phone call by a major presidential candidate and King’s subsequent release spread like wildfire through the black community.

Rev. King Sr. quickly switched his endorsement from Nixon to Kennedy and Abernathy urged African Americans to put away their Nixon buttons and vote for Kennedy. Kennedy won the 1960 election by the narrowest of margins, bolstered by an estimated 70% of the African American vote. But he quickly forgot his promise to introduce a major civil rights initiative as the first order of business for his administration.

It would be three years after his initial commitment before he put any weight behind a meaningful bill and another year before it passed Congress under President Lyndon Johnson. In the meantime, the Klan’s terrorist murders, government enforcement of segregation and police violence rained down on civil rights activists.

Henry Continues Activism

Henry continued his civil rights activism with NAG, regaining a leadership position as chair of the planning committee. A young Howard student named Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) joined NAG and began working with Henry on actions. Carmichael would go onto head SNCC and becoming the leading black power spokesperson of his era. Henry organized several hundred people to picket the White House on Nov. 8th –Election Day 1960—around four demands:

  • Compliance with the 1954 Supreme Court ruling desegregating schools.
  • Free elections in the South and Washington, D.C.
  • Complete integration of public accommodations and businesses that receive government contracts.
  • Change the Senate and House rules to remove the filibuster and other obstacles to truly meaningful civil rights laws.

Harris Wofford replies May 29, 1961 to Laurence Henry's request for a meeting.

On May 29, 1961, Harris Wofford offers to meet with Laurence Henry.

In the spring of 1961, Henry sought a White House meeting between the President’s office and direct action rights activists. He received an invitation from his old adversary Wofford who wrote,

…I have heard of your work for a long time and would personally like to meet and talk with you.

Henry later took part in the civil rights marches on Selma and in Montgomery Alabama. He also worked for several years as a freelance photographer documenting civil rights struggles and leaders like Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., growing particularly close to Malcolm.

Henry was beaten within inches of his life in Chester, Pa. by white racists while photographing 1964 civil rights demonstrations in the Philadelphia suburb.

Laurence Henry photo of Malcolm X: 1964

Laurence Henry photo of Malcolm X. Malcolm reportedly “loved it.”

He traveled to the Dominican Republic in 1965 and interviewed Lt. Col. Montest Arache who was then leading the fight against a U.S. invasion of that country. Upon his return, he was treated like an enemy by the U.S. government.

After working on the family run black-oriented publication NOW!, he soon turned back to his divinity degree and returned to Philadelphia where he became a community leader and founder and pastor of Christ Community Baptist Church in Philadelphia before he died in 1980.


Author’s notes: Many activists from that period also knew Henry by his brother Imari Obadele who, until his death in 2010, was president of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Africa, an organization attempting to turn five Southern states into an independent black nation.

The effort by liberals to depose Henry was one of many such incidents in the civil rights movement that would lead many African Americans to abandon their alliance with white liberals and form a black power movement later in the decade.

The Best Cup of Coffee: Arlington, Virginia 1960

Laurence Henry (far right) joins others for a victory cup of desegregated coffee in Arlington, VA on June 23, 1960.

Time proved Laurence Henry’s stance against tabling Dirksen’s bill in 1960 correct. No major legislation was initiated by the administration until 1963 and that legislation languished in Congress for a year before it passed in the wake the Birmingham, Alabama church bombing that killed four young girls and the murders of three civil rights workers in Mississippi, two of whom were white.

There is no doubt that white liberals contributed critical support in the immediate victory at Glen Echo. Their support, however, came with a price of inaction at a higher level. Activists in the Black Lives Matter movement today are faced with a similar quandary and must carefully consider the pros and cons of enlisting institutional support.

Sources include The Washington Post, The Washington Star, The Baltimore Afro, Ebony, The Indianapolis Recorder, Now!, The Cincinnati Herald, The Gazette, Washington Jewish Week, The Civil Rights Digital Library, The Clarence Mitchell Papers, and The Global Non-Violent Action Database, among others.


ADDENDUM I

Seeds of the Black Power Movement

Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) Delivering a Speech: 1965

Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) in 1965.

The federal government continued its ambivalent commitment to civil rights, sometimes intervening in local cases, but declining to take a comprehensive approach after the 1960 elections.

NAG continued its activism and in the fall of 1960 and a freshman named Stokely Carmichael (later Kwame Ture) joined the Non-Violent Action Group that was by then affiliated with the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committee. H. Rap Brown (later Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin) also joined. Both would become chairs of SNCC and black power advocates.

Carmichael (Ture) leads sit-in at RFK's office: 1962

Stokely Carmichael (3rd from left) leads a sit in at Atty. Gen. Robert F. Kennedy’s office March 16, 1962.

Carmichael worked with Henry following the latter’s removal from leadership of NAG and was undoubtedly aware of Henry’s desire to confront Democrats who paid lip service to civil rights progress while taking no action.

Where Henry was thwarted in 1960, Carmichael seized the opportunity to do so in February 1962 when NAG activist Dion Diamond was arrested for “criminal anarchy” (attempting to overthrow the government) for attempting to speak at Southern University in Louisiana. Carmichael organized a sit-in at U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s office and was forcibly evicted, but drew attention to the passive nature of the federal government in the face of brutal repression and use of state apparatus in the suppression of civil rights.

SNCC Chair Censored in 1963

March on Washington: 1963

Tents are ready for March on Washington Aug. 27, 1963.

Liberal attempts to restrain and utilize the African American civil rights movement for their own purposes were widespread and the most publicized incident occurred when the Kennedy administration insisted on censoring Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee chair John Lewis speech at the 1963 March for Jobs and Freedom.

The Kennedy administration shifted positions from trying to ignore civil rights to finding a way to co-opt the movement into support for the administration. Administration liaison Burke Marshall demanded support for a weak Kennedy civil rights initiative and insisted that Lewis drop references to marching through the south like Sherman.

Protest organizers faced a larger problem when copies of SNCC Chairman John Lewis’ speech were circulated. In the prepared text, Lewis expressed opposition to an administration backed civil rights bill, derided those who urged patience and talked about “the revolution is at hand.” There was particularly strong objection to this passage:

We will march through the South, through the heart of Dixie, the way Sherman did. We shall pursue our own ‘scorched earth’ policy and burn Jim Crow to the ground – nonviolently. We shall fragment the South into a thousand pieces and put them back together in the image of democracy.

Patrick O’Boyle, the archbishop of Washington, who was scheduled to deliver the invocation, objected to Lewis’ speech and threatened to not only walk out, but to take all Catholics with him if the speech was given. John Lewis said he would deliver the speech as written or not at all.

Walter Reuther of the United Auto Workers told coalition members,

If John Lewis feels strongly that he wants to make this speech, he can go someplace else and make it, but he has no right to make it here because if he tries to make it he destroys the integrity of our coalition and he drives people out of the coalition who agree to the principles…This is just immoral and he has no right to do it, and I demand a vote right now because I have to call the archbishop.

Lewis dropped the incendiary words and gave a modified speech, but the incident galvanized resentment by black activists toward white liberals. Within a few years, Willie Ricks and Carmichael were popularizing the slogan “Black Power” in 1966 and a large segment of the African American civil rights movement broke away from white liberal influence.


ADDENDUM II

Recognition of the Murdered

The following is a partial list of those murdered by others seeking continued subjugation of black people from the time of inaction on the Dirksen amendments until the 1968 Fair Housing Act was enacted. It is excerpted from a longer list compiled by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

September 25, 1961 · Liberty, Mississippi

Herbert Lee, who worked with civil rights leader Bob Moses to help register black voters, was killed by a state legislator who claimed self-defense and was never arrested. Louis Allen, a black man who witnessed the murder, was later also killed.

April 9, 1962 · Taylorsville, Mississippi

Cpl. Roman Ducksworth Jr., a military police officer stationed in Maryland, was on leave to visit his sick wife when he was ordered off a bus by a police officer and shot dead. The police officer may have mistaken Ducksworth for a “freedom rider” who was testing bus desegregation laws.

September 30, 1962 · Oxford, Mississippi

Paul Guihard, a reporter for a French news service, was killed by gunfire from a white mob during protests over the admission of James Meredith to the University of Mississippi.

April 23, 1963 · Attalla, Alabama William Lewis Moore, a postman from Baltimore, was shot and killed during a one-man march against segregation. Moore had planned to deliver a letter to the governor of Mississippi urging an end to intolerance.

June 12, 1963 · Jackson, Mississippi Medgar Evers, who directed NAACP operations in Mississippi, was leading a campaign for integration in Jackson when he was shot and killed by a sniper at his home.

September 15, 1963 · Birmingham, Alabama Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley were getting ready for church services when a bomb exploded at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, killing all four of the school-age girls. The church had been a center for civil rights meetings and marches.

September 15, 1963 · Birmingham, Alabama Virgil Lamar Ware, 13, was riding on the handlebars of his brother’s bicycle when he was fatally shot by white teenagers. The white youths had come from a segregationist rally held in the aftermath of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing.

January 31, 1964 · Liberty, Mississippi Louis Allen, who witnessed the murder of civil rights worker Herbert Lee, endured years of threats, jailings and harassment. He was making final arrangements to move north on the day he was killed.

March 23, 1964 · Jacksonville, Florida Johnnie Mae Chappell was murdered as she walked along a roadside. Her killers were white men looking for a black person to shoot following a day of racial unrest.

April 7, 1964 · Cleveland, Ohio Rev. Bruce Klunder was among civil rights activists who protested the building of a segregated school by placing their bodies in the way of construction equipment. Klunder was crushed to death when a bulldozer backed over him.

May 2, 1964 · Meadville, Mississippi Henry Hezekiah Dee and Charles Eddie Moore were killed by Klansmen who believed the two were part of a plot to arm blacks in the area. (There was no such plot.) Their bodies were found during a massive search for the missing civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner.

June 21, 1964 · Philadelphia, Mississippi James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Henry Schwerner, young civil rights workers, were arrested by a deputy sheriff and then released into the hands of Klansmen who had plotted their murders. They were shot, and their bodies were buried in an earthen dam.

JULY 2, 1964 Civil Rights Act

July 18, 1965 · Anniston, Alabama Willie Brewster was on his way home from work when he was shot and killed by white men. The men belonged to the National States Rights Party, a violent neo-Nazi group whose members had been involved in church bombings and murders of blacks.

AUGUST 6, 1965 VOTING RIGHTS ACT

August 20, 1965 · Hayneville, Alabama Jonathan Myrick Daniels, an Episcopal Seminary student in Boston, had come to Alabama to help with black voter registration in Lowndes County. He was arrested at a demonstration, jailed in Hayneville and then suddenly released. Moments after his release, he was shot to death by a deputy sheriff.

January 3, 1966 · Tuskegee, Alabama Samuel Leamon Younge Jr., a student civil rights activist, was fatally shot by a white gas station owner following an argument over segregated restrooms.

January 10, 1966 · Hattiesburg, Mississippi Vernon Ferdinand Dahmer, a wealthy businessman, offered to pay poll taxes for those who couldn’t afford the fee required to vote. The night after a radio station broadcasted Dahmer’s offer, his home was firebombed. Dahmer died later from severe burns.

June 10, 1966 · Natchez, Mississippi Ben Chester White, who had worked most of his life as a caretaker on a plantation, had no involvement in civil rights work. He was murdered by Klansmen who thought they could divert attention from a civil rights march by killing a black person.

July 30, 1966 · Bogalusa, Louisiana Clarence Triggs was a bricklayer who had attended civil rights meetings sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality. He was found dead on a roadside, shot through the head.

February 27, 1967 · Natchez, Mississippi Wharlest Jackson, the treasurer of his local NAACP chapter, was one of many blacks who received threatening Klan notices at his job. After Jackson was promoted to a position previously reserved for whites, a bomb was planted in his car. It exploded minutes after he left work one day, killing him instantly.

May 12, 1967 · Jackson, Mississippi Benjamin Brown, a former civil rights organizer, was watching a student protest from the sidelines when he was hit by stray gunshots from police who fired into the crowd.

February 8, 1968 · Orangeburg, South Carolina Samuel Ephesians Hammond Jr., Delano Herman Middleton and Henry Ezekial Smith were shot and killed by police who fired on student demonstrators at the South Carolina State College campus.

April 4, 1968 · Memphis, Tennessee Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist minister, was a major architect of the Civil Rights Movement. He led and inspired major non-violent desegregation campaigns, including those in Montgomery and Birmingham. He won the Nobel peace prize. He was assassinated as he prepared to lead a demonstration in Memphis.

APRIL 11, 1968 FAIR HOUSING ACT


Want to see and read more?

See more photos of the Glen Echo protests

See more photos of the Arlington restaurant sit-ins

Read about NAG member Dion Diamond and see more images

See more images related to Laurence Henry

%d bloggers like this: