It was appropriate to have run across these photos with Martin Luther King Day coming up.
[Editor’s note: I’ve kept with the vernacular used by The Missourian, even though the language feels strange these days.]
Kivie Kaplan, national president of the NAACP, came to speak to the local chapter and the public in the St. James AME Church Aug. 9, 1967.
The Missourian’s story the next day identified the folks in the photo above as the Rev. Ben H. Cleaver, retired minister, left, and the Rev. Wallace Ward, pastor of the St. James AME Church. Behind them are members of the church’s junior choir, Misses Ruth Watson, Janis Jefferson, Olivia Johnson and Diane Mitchell.
[Editor’s note: The Missourian’s cutline has the woman on the left identified as Ruth Watson; Ron Bedell said it should be Ruth Wilson and I’m pretty sure he’s correct. Here’s where you can see a photo of Ruth at last summer’s reunion.]
NAACP “does not condone violence”
Kaplan went out of his way to assure the audience of about 100 that his organization does “not condone violence,” and stresses at all times the “peaceful and legal pursuit” of its objectives. He added that the NAACP has more than 500,000 members and represents 90 per cent of the Negro population.
Police present to “direct traffic”
He said Black Power leaders and others who advocate violence as a means to acquire civil liberties represent “only a fraction of one per cent of the Negro people.”
The city fathers may not have been as sure of that. The story went on to say that “About a dozen policemen were on hand at the church to direct the flow of traffic and presumably to halt any outbreak of disorder. No disturbance was reported, however.”
It was reported that there was applause at least two points and audible “amens” came from the crowd occasionally.
Kaplan was welcomed to the city by Mayor J. Hugh Logan, who expressed his interest in Mr. Kaplan’s address.
Kaplan implies local firms show bias
Cape school integrated early and peacefully. Classmate Gerald Love said at the reunion last summer, “There was no friction with the kids. There might have been some adults with problems, but not the kids.” It’s worth going back to read Gerald Love’s story, though, of his introduction to racism in Cape.
Kaplan said he had been told that of the 400 persons employed by Marquette Cement Mfg. Co., only five are Negroes; out of 240 employees of Missouri Utilities, only four are Negroes. At Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., there is only one Negro out of a total of 200 employees.
Photo gallery of NAACP meeting
Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the image to move through the gallery.