Associated Justice Hugo Black had been exposed for being a member of KKK. Strongly supporting the Brown decision, it turned out that Hugo Black was the biggest supporter of African Americans civil rights. Because of his support for desegregation, Justice Black had to wear a bullet proof vest whenever he would go home to visit Alabama. It got to the point that he stopped going.
As a result of death threats, one in the form of an effigy being burned on his front lawn, Hugo Jr. left Alabama.
Hugo Black had become the most reviled native son of Alabama. In 1959, the Alabama State Legislature resolved that Hugo Black’s remains must never be buried in the “sacred” soil of Alabama.
Shortly after the Supreme Court decision in 1954, Barbara Johns family, traveled to Washington, D.C. to visit a relative. Upon returning to Farmville, they found that their house had been burned to the ground.
The family moved to Washington D.C. permanently in 1955.
In 1959, rather than integrate, Prince Edwards’ county closed all of the public schools, black and white.
Public funds were used to establish private academies for whites only, locking out black children indefinitely.
Deciding that Farmville would not be a safe place for her to be for the upcoming school year, in 1951, Barbara Johns was sent to live with her uncle Vernon Johns in Montgomery, Alabama.
Born in Prince Edwards county Virginia in 1892, Johns was an African American minister who preached a social gospel message.
In 1948, he accepted the post of minister at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Already a well established preacher, Vernon Johns was considered both an intellectual force and a gifted orator. He was in great demand on the college lecture circuit and also as a traveling minister.
It turned out that Johns and the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church was a poor match.
Johns, sermons often explored themes of African American equality, independence, and racial uplift.
Reverend Johns frequently criticized the Dexter Avenue congregation, which was largely made up of Montgomery’s black middle class.
Reverend Johns’ believed that his middle class congregation cared more about status than the plight of less fortunate Montgomery blacks.
After an African American motorist was severely beaten by police during a traffic stop as other African Americans looked on, Johns responded with a Sermon, entitled “It’s Safe to Murder Negroes in Montgomery”.
In his sermon, he blasted African Americans for not intervening.
In 1952, Johns began to sell produce from the Church’s basement and on the Alabama State College campus.
Many of his congregants, who worked on the historical black college campus, were embarrassed by Johns’ farmer’s market activity.
The Reverend so discomforted his congregation, at Dexter Avenue, eventually causing him to lose his pulpit.
Johns spent the rest of his life farming and touring as a preacher and lecturer.
The fiery minister advocated for Montgomery blacks in what was considered then as unique and dangerous ways.
Twice he made attempts for the prosecution of white men for the rape of young black girls.
He also protested the Jim Crow rules in regards to public transportation and accommodations thus lending moral force to the civil rights movement.
Although he nothing about his niece’s action in Prince Edwards’ county, he is thought to be a motivating factor in Barbara Johns’ stance against segregation in the public school system.
Reverend Johns was replaced at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church by a young minister named Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Jr. was elevated as the leader of the civil rights movement when he was chosen to lead a year long bus boycott triggered by the arrest of Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat to a white man on December 1, 1955.
I’m Suzanne Malveaux. Please Join us tomorrow as we continue this historical black journey.
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