Agnew Insults  Moderate and Militant Negroes

Agnew Insults  Moderate and Militant Negroes


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



The governor just does not understand. How does he know the Negroes have come a long way.  A few have!

He is trying to teach these black leaders when he should be asking them to teach him. The masses

of black people have hardly moved at all.



Agnew Insults  Moderate and Militant Negroes

A Response by Father Henry Offer, Gilbert Ware, and Others

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Analysis and Evaluation of the Speech by Governor Agnew

to the So-Called Moderate Civil Rights leaders on Thursday, April 11th,

As I Would See It from the Viewpoint of These Black Leaders

Rev. Henry J. Offer, S.S. J.

The day before Easter, 1968


Hard on the heels of tragedy comes the assignment of blame and the excuses. I did not invite you here for either purpose. (Note: The full speech can be found under the link, “Spiro Agnew Speaks to Black Baltimore.”)

This is what he said, but he did the exact opposite. He did blame them and this was the terrible insult. These were the people who have worked so hard and for so long to prevent the very things that happened this week.

If you’ll observe, the ready mix, instantaneous type of leader is not here. The circuit-riding, Hanoi-visiting type of leader is missing from the assembly. The cat-calling, riot-inciting, burn-America down type of leader is conspicuous by his absence. That is no accident ladies and gentlemen. It is just good planning.

Who is he talking about? They should have been identified and should have, in the good old American tradition, the right to defend themselves against his accusations. He probably is talking about Bob Moore, Walter Lively, Danny Gant, Stu Wexler, Tim and Irving Conway, Dino Prettyman, etc.—representing S.N.C.C. C.O.R.E., U-J.O.I.N., C.I.G., etc. I know ever one of these men personally—some I know quite intimately. Tim Conway and his group were in our Rectory 2 a.m. Sunday morning getting something to eat. They worked with us all week trying to “cool it” and giving relief to the victims. Walter Lively was a round dong the same thing. I saw him on one such occasion Sunday night on Pennsylvania Avenue. This is why all the black leaders fell in strongly behind them.

Some weeks ago, a reckless stranger to this city . . . characterized the Baltimore police as “enemies of the black man.”

Governor Agnew is apparently referring to Bob Moore of SNCC. Bob Moore is not a reckless stranger.

 He is a native of the city and has been responsibly active in civil rights here for many years. I am not sure of his present philosophy. He has a right to defend himself. When he spoke about the police he was simply speaking out the sentiments of many black people who, through the years, have suffered so much more than most of us can understand. This is why there was a storm of censure from the black people against those who reacted in opposition to the statement. Our people want law and order but they want a “law and order society” that does not discriminate and demean their dignity. I do not agree with the statement, but I do not believe it was uttered “to attract attention and to inflame” as the Governor claimed What he said was not “only the opinion of those who depend upon chaos and turmoil for leadership.” This last phrase in itself is a broad condemnation, and I don’t know who is being referred to by these words.


And you ran. You met in secret with that demagogue and others like him and you agreed . . . that you would not openly criticize any Black spokesman, regardless of the content of his remarks . . . you were intimidated by veiled threats . . . you were stung . . . by epithets like “Uncle Tom.”

Who ran and met in secret and with whom? Who was intimidated and stung? Was it Judge Watts, Judge Cole, Mrs. Juanita Mitchell, Judge Hargrove, David Glenn, Sam Daniels, Rev. Frank Williams, Rev. Vernon Dobson, Mrs. Victorine Adams, Councilman Douglass, Mr. Charlie Tildon? It was these people and others like them that formed the audience to which he was speaking. The Governor emphasized this in the beginning. What specific meeting [United Black Front meeting March 24, 1968] is he talking about? And just who did attend? The above statement is terribly unjust.

Now Many parts of our cities lie in ruins . . . These fires were kindled at the suggestion and with the instruction of the devotees of violence.

How sure can the Governor be? The Mayor seems to agree. General York says, “No.” It is not easy to know how much might have been from panning? Perhaps some, perhaps none.

Governor Agnew misses the most important point of all. We want to put the blame where it really belongs. Stokely Carmichael and Rap Brown are not the real culprits. All of these men to whom Mr. Agnew was speaking condemn any preaching of violence, burning, looting, etc. They know it is futile and fatal. The real revolutionaries are the people responsible for the kinds of conditions in the ghetto that breed frustration, violence, riots, etc. These are the ones who should be blamed for what happened in Baltimore this past week. The black leaders are not even interested in naming names and sitting in judgment on individuals but they do want to get down to the root cause. They want to treat the diseases, not the symptoms. Are they to be condemned for this kind of thinking.

It was no accident that one such advocate appeared at eight separate fires before the fire chief could get there.

Who is Governor Agnew accusing now? Is it Walter Lively? The paper said five fires. Walter himself told me it was two and that he was helping people. They urged all of us who were civil rights leaders, ministers or priests, to get out with the crowds and try to cool it. Some did. I have known Walter for a number of years. He has always been a responsible leader. Most all of us respect him. What right does the Governor have to stand and condemn a man on hearsay evidence. I was not with him Saturday night but I must make my judgment from what I know of the man. I may not agree with everything he says or does, but I have always found him honest, open, and decent.

I readily agree that this equal opportunity has not always been present for Negroes—that it is still not totally present for Negroes. But I say that we have come a long way.

The governor just does not understand. How does he know the Negroes have come a long way.  A few have! He is trying to teach these black leaders when he should be asking them to teach him. The masses of black people have hardly moved at all.

Tell me one constructive achievement that has flowed from the madness of the twin priests of violence, Stokely Carmichael and Rap Brown.

All of the people to whom Gov. Agnew was speaking do repudiate the violence that these two preach. However, these twin priests of violence have accomplished some constructive things. They have aroused many black people to an awareness of their problems and they have stirred them up to want to do something about the problems. They have made America listen to a whole lot of moderate people they would not be listening to unless Stokely and company had them scared. They have helped to unite black people like they have never been united before and this is very constructive.

Quoted Statements from Carmichael, Brown, and Dixon.

I am sure all of the people to whom the Governor was speaking repudiate the thinking expressed in these statements. It is an insult to infer otherwise.

I call upon you to publicly repudiate, condemn and reject all black racists. This so far you have not been willing to do.

I doubt whether there are any black racists. It is hard enough trying to convince a black man that he is just as good as a white man, much less trying to convince him that he is better.

These people to whom the Governor was speaking have spent their whole lives repudiating all that he is ranting against. Many of them spent the week trying to do what they could to stop the violence and to aid the victims. Their entire lives have been a public statement in their belief in what is right and just. This kind of rebuke is absolutely wrong and uncalled for.

These black leaders know why Stokely and the others are so frustrated. It is hard not to be sympathetic. They do not agree with his conclusions or his plan for redress but they do agree with much of his analysis of the problems.

I submit that these men and others like them represent a malignancy out of control;  that will lead us to a devastating civil war.

These men like Stokely do not represent the malignancy. They are a reaction to it. White racism is the malignancy. The governor has to come to realize this.

I submit to you that there can be no winner from such a conflict and that the heaviest losers will be the Negro citizens of America.

We all know this.

That target will be realized when every man is judge on his own individual merit.

This is all the black people have ever asked for.

Divisiveness and the doctrine of apartheid are impenetrable barriers between us and that target.

We all agree on this and wish the Governor would not keeping dividing us.

I am sure that these remarks come as somewhat of a surprise to you; that you expected nebulous promises and rationalizations and possibly a light endorsement of the Kerner Report. This I could not do.

We hoped for deep insights into the real problems of the city. It is an insult to even intimate that we wanted nebulous promises and rationalizations. We did not expect to be blamed. We certainly hoped that he world endorse the Kerner Report. If he cannot he should tell us why.

Blind militancy must be converted into constructive purpose.

Amen! We all believe this strongly. This is why we do not want to cut ourselves off completely from any segment of the black community. We want to harness and channel every source of energy.

This cannot occur so long as you or I condone or cling to racism, black or white.

Why does he keep insisting that we believe in racism of any kind?

I believe you represent the views of the overwhelming majority of Maryland’s Negro citizens—responsible, hard-working, decent people who are as horrified by the events of the past days as you or I.”

 This is true but this isn’t what he has been saying about us through the whole statement.

My greatest fear is this polarization of attitudes is an aftermath of violence.

The Governor is the one person in the community who has done as almost unbelievable job of doing just this.

I will need your vision and your vote.

This is the first time he has even asked for our ideas and the request is rather vague.

Let us begin to rebuild now . . . Let us work together not as black and white—but as responsible citizens of Maryland who uphold the law; as concerned citizens who are united in their dedication to eliminate prejudice and poverty or any conditions which create hopelessness and despair.

What does he think we have been doing? This is our whole creed.

The fiction that Negroes lack any opportunity in this country is dispelled by the status of those in this room.

It is hard to believe that the governor could make this statement. It shows how terribly uninformed he is. It is very, very untrue.

Source: UBaltimore Archives  photo above right: Father Henry Offer

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Father Henry Offer, a white Catholic priest and ardent civil rights supporter . . . pointed out in his letter that Agnew criticized the very black leaders who put their lives on the line by taking to the streets to discourage rioters from looting and burning.—BaltimoreSun

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Baltimore 1968 Riots and Rebirth—Reports and Documents

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“Governor Spiro Agnew meets with Civil Rights leaders” (Courtesy of Baltimore News American Collection, University of Maryland, College Park)

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Ware Criticizes Agnew’s Remarks

Most Negroes Denounce Governor

By Michael Weiss


The only Negro on Governor Agnew’s staff today said the Governor’s remarks to an assembly of Negro leaders yesterday were “regrettable.” About 80 prominent Negroes among nearly 100 present walked out and convened a black caucus yesterday after Mr. Agnew said they had broken and run when “intimidated by veiled threats” from militants.

Dr. Gilbert Ware, the Governor’s program executive for human relations, said he believes Mr. Agnew also “realizes the exodus was regrettable.” Dr. Ware, the first Negro on the staff of a Maryland chief executive, said he did not agree with much of what Mr. Agnew said during the three-hour meeting.

Dr. Ware said he had no hand in preparing Mr. Agnew’s speech, which the Governor wrote himself in longhand. When it was shown to him, however, Dr. Ware said he had advised Mr. Agnew not to deliver it. The advice was rejected. “I think perhaps it was too all encompassing,” Dr. Ware explained. He would not itemize his objections, he said, because “there is enough acrimony engulfing him (the Governor) now. It would not help.”

But many white persons spoke out in favor of Mr. Agnew’s stand. Typical were the three Democratic members of the House of Delegates from Anne Arundel county who sent the Governor a telegram stating: “We wholeheartedly endorse your position. We believe that the responsible Negro leadership of the State must renounce the criminal element if they realistically hope for the full support” of whites.

It was signed by Delegates William J. Helms, Jr., Jerome F. Connell, Jr., and William J. Burkhead. A spokesman for the Governor said 125 calls have been received since the speech, all but 3 praising Mr. Agnew for “saying what had to be said.” Stacks of favorable telegrams have also arrived, he added.

Criticism of the Governor’s speech, which had been distributed in advance to some news media, was expressed by Mayor D’Alesandro and most of the twenty Negroes who remained as well as those who protested by departing. The Mayor called the remarks “somewhat inflammatory,” and said, “we should be emphasizing reconciliation and harmony, not divisiveness.”

Flanking the mayor as he made his statement before television cameras were: William Boucher 3d, director of the Greater Baltimore Committee; Francis D. Murnaghan, president of the city school board; Francis X. Gallagher, attorney for the Baltimore Arch-diocese; Robert Levy, chairman of the board of the Hecht Company; James W. Rouse, a developer, and E. Clinton Bamberger, prominent local attorney. All of them concurred in the Mayor’s reply to Mr. Agnew.

A spokesman for the black caucus also maintained that Mr. Agnew had tried to “divide,” the Negro community, and added that “Agnew’s actions are more in keeping with the slave system of a bygone era.”

At a news conference following the turbulent meeting, Mr. Agnew said he had “no apologies or regrets.” “If they had all walked out, I would simply be faced with a situation where I would have to find other Negro leaders,” Mr. Agnew said. Under questioning, he explained that he would not attempt to pick Negro leaders, but would wait until the Negro community chose leaders who were willing and able to communicate with him. In other reaction, Wilmer Bell, president of the Maryland Council of churches, said that the “urgent need” is to “eliminate root causes which create and nourish discontent,” and to avoid divisions between the white and black communities.

And a group of 28 Catholic priests in parishes with predominantly Negro congregations issued this statement: “Governor Agnew’s intemperate lecturing of the moderate Negro leadership hurts us deeply because it is an affront to men and women who have labored for many, many years to rid Baltimore of the evil effects of racism.”

Meanwhile the Rev. Frank J. Williams of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, said there would be a second black people’s meeting later today to “further address ourselves to the situation and set forth positive steps for rebuilding.” Mr. Williams was among those who stalked out of the gathering. Anger and disbelief were also expressed by those who remained. “You talked to us like we were children,” said Senator Verda F. Welcome (D. 4th Baltimore). She however praised Mr. Agnew for being an honest politician.

The Governor reportedly was advised by a member of his staff to invite Walter H. Lively, director of the Urban Coalition and leader of the Union for Jobs and Income Now [U-Join] and Danny Gant, director of the Congress of Racial Equality [CORE]. But he did not invite him and asserted that “I do not communicate with lawbreakers.” “The caterwauling, riot-inciting, burn-America-down type of leader is conspicuous by his absence,” Mr. Agnew said.

In a clear reference to Mr. Lively, he added that “Those fires were kindled . . . with the instruction of the advocates of violence. It was no accident that one such advocate appeared at eight separate fires before the fire chief could get there.” Mr. Lively was taken into custody during the riot, but released without charges being placed against him. Asked if he had evidence that Mr. lively had set fires, and if he would press for a prosecution, the governor replied that a decision was up to law enforcement officials and the Baltimore state’s attorney

He also noted that Negro militant Stokely Carmichael had spent the day in Baltimore. April 3, and had also appeared in Washington just before its riot began. Mr. Agnew called this “a very unique coincidence.” His information on Mr. Carmichael’s presence here was supplied by the FBI. The report, read to his press conference, claimed Mr. Carmichael had met with local black leaders and consorted with known criminals.

But George W. Collins, editor of the Baltimore Afro-American, said Mr. Carmichael “didn’t meet with any of the so-called militant spokesmen.” Mr. Collins, who talked to Mr. Carmichael while he was in Baltimore, said he visited with a girl friend and then stood on Pennsylvania avenue greeting passers-by.

Mr. Lively answered today that, “Governor Agnew is the only outside agitator around. He has been exploiting the disorder in Baltimore, just as he did in Cambridge last year. If anyone should be locked up, it’s Governor Agnew.” Earlier, Mr. Agnew announced he would hold further meetings to open up lines of communication. “All this comes from my heart,” he said. And at his press conference, the governor said he believed the first step toward meaningful communication between himself and the Negro community had been taken.

Source: Evening Sun 19 April 1968

Photo: Replies to Agnew—Senator Verda F. Welcome (D., Fourth Baltimore) tells the Governor, “You talked to us like we are children,” after his remarks provoked a walkout of most Negro leaders at meeting. “So few white people understand black people,” she said.

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Sheet, Bullwhip Left for Agnew

Negroes Call Them Symbols of Klan, Slave Master

By Stephen J. Lynton


Annapolis, April 14—A group of Negroes led by civil rights organizers who were active in the early 1960’s left a white sheet and a bullwhip on the metal railing surrounding the Governor’s mansion today.

Leo W. Burroughs, Jr. a member of the recently-formed Maryland Action Groups and a leader in the Maryland Civic Interest group in the early 1960’s, said: “The white sheet symbolizes his [Governor Agnew’s] movement toward the Klan. The bullwhip symbolizes the slave-master posture.”

Governor Agnew was reported to be in Baltimore on official business today and was not at the mansion. The white sheet and bullwhip were removed shortly after the one-hour demonstration ended at 5:15 P.M., apparently by a plainclothes policeman. The Negro protesters distributed leaflets to passers-by during the sunny Easter Sunday afternoon. The leaflets said: “We demand that the Governor make a public apology to the black community for his disgraceful conduct.”

The reference was to Mr. Agnew’s speech Thursday in which he told moderate civil rights leaders that they had given in to the views of militant black-power advocates. Maryland Action Groups also criticized Mr. Agnew’s “punitive response” to students at Bowie State College earlier this month. And the group added, “Agnew’s preoccupation with Stokely Carmichael and H. Rap Brown [leaders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee] borders on monomania and has resulted in his acquiring the outside-agitator complex.”

Source: Sun, 15 April 1968

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Agnew Chided by 30 Priests

Clerics Charge His Remarks Insulted Negroes

By Weldon Wallace


Nearly 30 Catholic priests from predominantly Negro churches issued an open statement yesterday in which they asserted that Governor Agnew had “insulted” the Negro people by attacking their trusted leaders who had worked for years “to rid Baltimore of the evil effects of racism.” 

The priests represented ten catholic parishes in the city. Their statement, which concerned the speech the governor had delivered to Negro leaders Thursday, read as follows:

Governor Agnew’s intemperate lecturing of the moderate Negro leadership hurts us deeply because it is an affront to men and women who have labored for many, many years to rid Baltimore of the evil effects of racism; because our people have been insulted by his attack on leaders who have been trusted.

It goes without saying that we condemn burning and looting, but we demand that, if any assignment of blame is made, white inaction over a long period of time must top the list. We commend the restraint and the responsibility of the military leadership, and we heartily second their decision to place human lives above property values.

The letter was signed by the following: The Rt. Rev. Martin J. Gamber and the Revs. Robert E. Hiltz, and Neil McLaughlin, St. Martin’s parish. The Revs. Edmund J. Stroup and Joseph R. Wenderoth, St. Vincent de Paul parish. The Revs. Walter A. Cerbin, S.S.J., and John F. O’Connell, S.S. J., St. Francis Xavier parish. The Revs. James F. Kerins, C.S.S.R., and James M. Forrest, C.S.S.R., St. James and John parish.

The Revs. Paul Downey, S.S.J., and Robert Mulligan, S.S.J., St. Pius V parish. The Rev. Daniel Casidy, S.S.J., St. Veronica’s parish. The Revs. Herbert R. Jordan and Edward T. Hull, St. Edward’s parish. The Rev. A Thomas Baumgartner, Catholic chaplain at Morgan State College. The Revs. Henry J. Offer, S.S.J., William McKenna, S.S.J., John Harfman, S.S.J., and Philip F. Berrigan, S.S.J., St. Peter Claver parish.

The Revs. Joseph M. Connolly and Theodore S. Rowan, St. Katherine’s parish. The Rev. Robert A. Reed and Deacon Richard T. Lawrence, St. Gregory’s parish. The Revs. William F. Burke, Paul F. Hettel, Thomas T. Polk, and Thomas J. Penn, St. Ann’s parish. The Revs. James Cronin and Clinton Beck, St. Bernadine’s parish.

Source: The Evening Sun, 13 April 1968


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Governor Rebuked by Negro Minister

A Negro minister who was an aide to Governor Agnew during the last gubernatorial election accused Mr. Agnew yesterday of being “profoundly ignorant concerning the fact that the black man will not tolerate divisiveness or the choosing of his leaders by others.” The Rev. Robert T. Newbold of Grace Presbyterian Church said he was “greatly disappointed” by the Governor’s speech to Negro leaders Thursday.

“This is a time for cooperation, not chastisement; preventive action, not punitive measures; reconciliation, not retaliation; togetherness, not toughness,” Mr. Newbold said. “In the interests of bringing the races of this State closer together and opening more lines of communication and understanding between all men of goodwill, I call upon the Governor and the members of the white power structure to really listen to counsel from those black and white advisers who are knowledgeable and sensitive to the hopes and aspirations of deprived and depressed people,” he said. Source: The Evening Sun, 13 April 1968

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Dorf Bids Negroes, Agnew Renew Talks

State Senator Paul A. Dorf (d., 5th Baltimore) called yesterday for reestablishment of “basic lines of communication” between State government and Negro leaders, noting that “now is the time to prevail upon both sides to sit down again” and talk.

He said he would have State Senator Verda Welcome (D., 4th Baltimore), Senator Clarence M. Mitchell 3d (S., 4th Baltimore) and other Negro leaders who heard out the Governor Thursday lead the effort for new talks. But, he added, militant Negro leaders, who were turned away from the Governor’s conference, should be invited to any new meeting.

Source: The Evening Sun, 13 April 1968

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Rights Attorney Says Governor Is Aloof

Gerald A. Smith, an attorney for the Legal Defense and Education Fund of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has charged that Governor Agnew had refused to deal “with anybody—whether militant or moderate.” Specifically, Mr. Smith said that he has sought the Governor’s assistance on March 18 in efforts to improve job conditions for Negroes at the Bethlehem Steel Corporation’s plant at Sparrows Point. “He has not even acknowledged receipt of my letter,” the N.A.A.C.P. attorney said. “He’s not dealing with anybody.”

Source: The Evening Sun, 13 April 1968

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Valle urges Agnew, Pressman to Resign

Francis J. Valle, unsuccessful candidate for city comptroller in the Democratic primary last year, urged Governor Agnew and Hyman A. Pressman, the city comptroller, to resign from their offices yesterday because of their statements concerning the rioting. In terse letters to each of the officials Mr. Valle accused both of “lack of leadership.” He said the Governor’s action Thursday at his meeting with civil rights leaders had “divided and inflamed” the community, and termed Mr. Pressman’s comments “inflammatory and irresponsible.”

Source: The Evening Sun, 13 April 1968

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Balm Sought in Agnew-Negro Rift

The Community Relations Commission managed to sandwich a brief public session between two long secret meetings yesterday and decided to have its chairman and executive director try to mediate the “rift” between Governor Agnew and moderate Negro leaders. The split occurred a week ago when the governor met with some 100 Negro leaders and accused them of abdicating their responsibilities for preventing the violence that rocked the city for four days beginning April 6.

About 70 of the Negro leaders stalked from the meeting and later held one of their own at which they produced a statement condemning the Governor’s speech. Among those who left was David L. Glenn, commission executive director. Repercussions from the session have echoed ever since and there have been many expressions of belief the Governor’s action may cause polarization of feeling between the white and black communities that would prevent unified action against future disorders.

Mr. Glenn said that if he were involved in efforts at reconciliation it would be as an “interpreter” rather than an actor mediator. That role would be up to the commission chairman, he said. “I think the best situation that could prevail would be harmonious relations to exist between officialdom and the black community,” Mr. Glenn said, “but that does not mean harmony at any price. Harmony at the price of accepting insults would be too great a price.”

He said the best chance for reconciliation will be if the Governor understands the “misgivings of the group,” which he said he would interpret, if such meetings were arranged. The commission went into its monthly secret session about 1 P.M. yesterday and did not go to public session until 3:05 P.M., although it had been scheduled for 2:30 P.M. At 2:40 P.M. the group announced it was going back into closed session to meet with the School Board. That meeting was still going on at 5 P.M.

Joseph H. Purdy, commission chairman, said the session with the School Board would be secret “because no conclusions will be reached.” The decision to attempt mediation was made informally after Mr. Purdy asked what role the commission should take in minimizing the possibility of future riots.

Mr. Glenn said he observed a “holiday attitude” among both looters and spectators. He said appeals made during the rioting to the masses on the streets were “completely ineffectual.” However, Mr. Glenn added, the attitude of the Negro community toward the disorders was “almost completely negative.” “I did not hear anyone say that what they [the rioters] were doing was productive,” he said. Mr. Glenn said he heard many people shouting for the looters and burners to stop and go home.

Mr. Glenn particularly praised the Police department for an “effective, commendable job” and said the “extreme restraint” police showed was responsible for the level of violence being held down and the ending of disturbances after four days. He said the intervention of Federal troops made a change in efforts to stop the rioting, particularly the strict curfew enforcement. However, Mr. Glenn mildly criticized Lt. Gen. Robert H. York, the Federal commander, for being “unavailable and not reachable by local people and officialdom.” He said, the general spent most of his time in his 5th Regiment Armory command post and that lower echelon officials had no access to him.

Source: The Evening Sun, 18 April 1968

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Negro Leaders Take Step to Heal Week-Old Rift with Governor

Negro leaders took a significant step today toward healing their rift with Governor Agnew whose critical remarks a week ago caused many of them to angrily walk out of his office. The national Association for the Advancement of Colored People called for a joint meeting with both the Governor and Mayor D’Alesandro to discuss programs aimed at avoiding future racial violence.

The request was the first public attempt by Negroes to meet with the Governor since he accused them of refusing to repudiate militants who he said may have instigated Baltimore’s recent four-day riot. At a press conference yesterday, the Governor disclosed he also is attempting to “reestablish communication” with leaders of the negro community. The Governor indicated some meetings have been scheduled, but refused to say with whom.

Since criticizing Negro leaders, Mr. Agnew has received a great deal of praise from white middle class citizens. But Negro organizations and individuals have called him everything from a bigot to misinformed. Mrs. Juanita J. Mitchell, State chairman of the N.A.A.C.P., said today that “We believe the Governor has learned that he cannot deal with us as unequals.”

She had praise for the Governor’s refusal to accept Chicago Mayor Richard Daley’s get-touch statement for looters and arsonists, which calls for shooting them on sight. Mrs. Mitchell also credited the Governor for legislation sponsored and passed by his Administration in the field of civil rights and equal opportunity.

But she emphasized the needs put forth in the resolution seeking the meeting with Mr. Agnew and the mayor. The resolution was adopted Wednesday by the Baltimore branch headed by Mrs. Mitchell’s mother, Mrs. Lille M. Jackson. It reaffirmed “our commitment to law and order” and deplored “breaking, looting, burning and vandalism.”

The resolution continued: “This is not the way to lasting peace and justice. On the other hand, the continued robbing of our children and their birthright to freedom and human dignity cannot be tolerated.” Mrs. Mitchell added today that the proposed meeting would be an effort to bring about hasty programs in employment, housing and education for deprived and impoverished Negroes.

She said that Baltimore is not alone in problems, but there are “pockets of trouble across the State.” The civil rights leader also warned of growing bitterness among Negro middle class citizens in State and municipal jobs who she claimed cannot receive promotions because of discrimination. “negroes are still treated as if they are down on the plantation in some agencies of State Government,” she admonished. 

Source: The Evening Sun, 19 April 1968L

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Agnew Plans to Reestablish Contact with Negro Leaders

Annapolis, April 18—Governor Agnew said today he is moving to “reestablish communication” with leaders of the Negro community in the wake of a controversy over statements he made last week. In  a prepared statement, the Governor said he was disturbed by charges that he is a bigot. Pointing to a record of “unprecedented action” to assure equal rights, he again denounced those who work outside the law.

The governor said he has scheduled “many meetings,” but refused to say with whom and at what time. At a meeting last Thursday, the governor denounced moderates Negro leaders for failing to denounce the advocates of violence during the riots. Some 70 Negroes walked out of the meeting claiming they had been insulted.

Governor Agnew said today that he is “profoundly grateful” for the “overwhelming number of thoughtful letters and telegrams” he has received supporting his lecture of the negro leaders. “I hold no rancor from the criticism and invective heaped upon me,” the governor said. He added that he is willing to meet with leaders of the negro community who are willing to dedicate themselves to lawful efforts, but not with those militants who support violence.

He went on to say that being such a militant “does not forever preclude” a person from “coming into communication with his Administration.” “if these people will recognize that the way to orderly change is through the law and will frankly come and ask for meetings with me . . . I would not let the fact that they have previously stepped over the line interfere with my communication with them,” Governor Agnew added.

Source: The Evening Sun

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“Tense Moment – the tenseness of the night Saturday and Sunday created the need for numerous huddles between city officials and militant leaders. Here, from left, Walter H. Lively, U-Join and executive director of the newly Urban Coalition; David L. Glenn, director, Baltimore Community Relations Commission; Robert Moore, Baltimore SNCC (back to camera) and Clarence Washington, assistant director, Dr. King’s Poor People’s Campaign Baltimore chapter, hold side-walk note comparing session” (Courtesy of the Afro-American Newspapers Archives)


Police Officials Deny ‘Holding’ Lively Warrants

City police have seventeen warrants for the arrest of Walter H. Lively, militant civil rights leader and director of the Urban Coalition. All but one of the warrants are for parking violations and the total fine involved would be $200. The other warrant is for a bus stop violation. Some are nearly a year old.

Lowing ranking police sources say privately that little effort has been made to serve the warrants because police officials want to save them for an “easy arrest” at a disturbance or disorder. Police officials deny the warrants are being held as an extra tool to facilitate an arrest at a demonstration or the approaching Poor People’s March on Washington.

Both William R. Morrissey, police information director, and Col. Frank J. Battaglia, chief of patrol, officially denied that only a minimal effort had been made to serve them.

“Some” attempts to locate Mr. Lively were made when the warrants were first issued but when these were unsuccessful, “they were thrown back in the hopper,” Mr. Morrissey said. A traffic officer must have “flagged” the old warrants when he noticed Mr. Lively’s name in the newspapers during the riot, he continued.

In last month’s rioting, at least six civil rights leaders were arrested by Maj. George Schnabel, deputy chief of area 2, but in all the cases, either the charges were dismissed or no charges were ever placed. Mr. Lively was arrested on the first night of the riot by Major Schnabel on investigation of arson, but no charges were ever placed against him. Although the normal procedure is to make a warrant check on anyone who is arrested, Mr. Morrissey said this was impossible during the riot.

The warrants are not in the hands of Eastern district police, which would be the normal procedure, since Mr. Lively lives in the 1000 block North Broadway. Instead, Colonel Battaglia has them. Colonel Battaglia is in charge of supervising police activities at demonstrations. “I’m at every one of them,” he said. Colonel Battalgia said the warrants are in his possession because he is the most likely police officer to have direct contact with Mr. Lively.

Mr. Lively said he thinks the police are holding the warrants so that he can be arrested whenever the police choose to do so. He said police have been questioning youths in the Gay street area asking them if he was involved in any of the fires or looting during the riot. “The police may want to be able to hold me in custody on the traffic charges,” Mr. Lively said, while they try to complete a more serious case against him.

“It would make it easier to make the ‘political’ decision to charge me with some serious offense if I were already in jail,” he said. The warrants are all from the period between May and September, 1967. The first was issued May 23 and the last on September 23. Asked why he had not paid the tickets, Mr. Lively said he never received summonses. He said both his office and home addresses have changed during the last year. He said the tickets must have been issued to people working with him in the Union for Jobs and Income Now, a civil rights group. Although the cars in question were registered to Mr. Lively, he said he does not drive.

Source: Evening Sun, 9 May 1968

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Agnew: Maryland’s Civil Rights Politician?

By The League


As governor, Agnew advanced a decidedly pro-civil rights platform in Annapolis.  His 1968 agenda’s top priority was the creation of expansive community mental health programs.  He also called for creating “a State authority to provide financial and technical assistance for low and middle income housing projects” and expanding higher education services to low-income students.  Agnew followed through on his promises in his requests for the 1969 capital budget.  He started an employment program in impoverished areas of Baltimore in 1967, publicly toyed with issuing an Executive Order to end discrimination in state jobs and allowed state employees to take paid time off work to attend memorial services for Martin Luther King, Jr. He signed several civil rights bills, including an open housing law and legislation that legalized interracial marriage.  Finally, Agnew used the governorship as a bully pulpit for civil rights, condemning racial slurs used by a circuit court judge and urging the state’s Congressional delegation to support federal legislation to outlaw housing discrimination.

Although his commitment to civil rights served a political purpose in liberal Maryland, some evidence suggests Agnew was a true believer.  Time magazine suggested his disposition towards support for economic opportunities was likely influenced by his childhood experience as the son of a struggling Greek immigrant.  In an interoffice communication not meant for public consumption, Agnew disparaged the racial slurs of circuit judge William B. Bowie.  In another private communiqué, he expressed deep regret over racist killings of blacks in Baltimore.  In a private conversation while on vacation in Ocean City, Agnew told Gilbert Ware that he fully intended “to do all [he] could to put an end to school segregation.” 

Agnew’s civil rights record won him the support of the black community.  In the 1966 gubernatorial race, Agnew received the endorsement of the Interdenominational Alliance, a powerful group of black ministers based in Baltimore. 

“Gov. Spiro T. Agnew holds a press conference with Gen. George Gelston of the Maryland National Guard during disturbances following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. At far left is Max Johnson, AFRO political analyst; behind him is black aide to Agnew, Dr. Gilbert Ware.” (Courtesy of the Afro-American Newspapers Archives)

He won the urban black vote in that election.  Agnew also maintained relatively good, although at times strained, relations with black leaders.  For example, he met NAACP leader Roy Wilkins in July 1967 and “announced he was considering an executive order ending all discrimination in state jobs.”

Despite these accomplishments, Agnew’s civil rights record is not as impressive as could be expected from the governor of a liberal state with one of the largest proportion of blacks in the population outside of the Deep South.  He supported reform only on his own terms.  For example, the Baltimore County Human Relations Commission, which was a welcomed gesture, was designed by Agnew to remain a toothless body.  In addition, Agnew’s civil rights actions were carefully calculated political balancing acts: just enough to placate the demands of the important white liberal and black voting constituency but not enough to anger the conservatives who were beginning to fill the ranks of Maryland’s Republican party.  Finally, comments such as “I never did think Martin Luther King was a good American, anyhow” call into question Agnew’s personal commitment to racial equality.

Source: Gather

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Gilbert Ware *62

17 November, 2010

Gilbert Ware, a retired professor emeritus of political science at Drexel University, died Feb. 10, 2010. He was 76. Ware graduated from Morgan State University in 1955, where he was senior class president, valedictorian, and ROTC commandant. He served as an officer in the Army until 1959, and then earned a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton in 1962. In addition to his academic career, he held policy positions with the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, the Urban Institute, the Maryland governor’s cabinet, and the National Bar Association. He wrote From the Black Bar: Voices for Equal Justice (1976) and William Hastie: Grace Under Pressure (1984).

As a professor of political science and African studies, he taught at Morgan State, the University of Pennsylvania, and Drexel University. After retiring from Drexel in 1999, he continued teaching at Berea College and Centre College. Among Ware’s awards were fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Philosophical Society, and the Ford Foundation. He was a life member of both the NAACP and the APGA. Known for his gentle manner, he had a deep concern for those in need. Ware is survived by two aunts, Jean Campbell and Ethel Jones, and a cousin, Cathy Thomas.—Princeton

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Agnew’s Human Relations Executive Resigns

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Spiro T, Agnew announced Thursday the resignation of Dr. Gilbert Ware as his program executive for human relations, At the same time, Agnew announced the appointment of Frank A. DeCosta Jr. to the post; effective Sept. 1. Both men are Negroes.  “Mr. DeCosta has wide experience and a great understanding o£ the problems, in this vital area,” the governor said, “and the state is fortunate in obtaining the services of a man of his demonstrated ability and character.” DeCosta, 32, has been serving as an assistant attorney general of Maryland since January, 1967. In this capacity he has specialized in working with 10 state agencies, including the Depart Department of. Social Services.

A native of Florence, Ala., DeCosta was educated in public schools and graduated cum laude with a B.A, degree from Howard University in 1957. After serving in the U. S. Air Force as a first lieutenant, DeCosta returned to Howard where he graduated cum laude from law school in 1964. After graduation, he served as a law clerk to Judge Reuben Oppenheimer of the Maryland Court of Appeals. He was appointed assistant state’s attorney for Baltimore of the attorney general in 1967.

Source: The Cumberland News, 18 August 1968 /NewspaperArchive

Editor’s Note: Harry B. Dunbar, author of A Brother Like Me: A Memoir (p. 104), suggests that Dr. Gilbert Ware resigned his position of program executive for human relations (appointed February 1967) the Thursday (11 August 1968) Agnew gave his speech,  resigned because of the position the Governor had taken on matters of race. “Dr. Ware had been Agnew’s eyes and ears in the black community” (Google). The Cumberland News article suggests that the Ware resignation became effective August 1968.

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The Dream Deferred: The Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Holy Week Uprisings of 1968—Peter B. Levy—As the 1968 campaign got under way, Republican leaders pondered how they could retake the White House. One option, long forgotten, was the idea of reaching out to black voters, to bring them back to the party of Lincoln. When Richard Nixon ran as Dwight Eisenhower’s running mate, in fact, Republicans won about half the black vote. And one could interpret Johnson’s landslide victory over Goldwater as proof that the Republicans could not win without regaining black support.

Instead of trying to revive the party of Lincoln, Nixon chose to pursue the Southern Strategy. Rather than reaching out to blacks, he decided to try to convince Southern whites that their natural home was in the Grand Old Party. His nomination of Agnew signaled this decision. That Agnew had been a moderate Republican and was from a border state legitimized the Republicans’ turn away from blacks, the Great Society, and its commitment to urban America.

Even if the Democrats had won the 1968 presidential election, the United States probably would have turned away from the ideals of the Great Society. Even before King’s assassination, LBJ had refused to publicly endorse the findings of the Kerner Commission. Neither Jimmy Carter nor Bill Clinton placed urban affairs at the center of their agenda. Rather, Carter pledged to bring integrity back to the political arena, and Bill Clinton, empowerment zones notwithstanding, focused his agenda on the largely suburban middle class, represented by the so-called soccer moms.

Nonetheless, it is important to remember that King’s assassination played a pivotal role in these developments, by ending the life of one of the most, if not the most, prominent progressive spokesmen of the era and by sparking a nationwide uprising, which in turn gave a shot in the arm to the New Right. It is equally important to recognize that the Holy Week uprisings grew out of long-term urban ills and that our reexamination of them is an opportunity to refocus our attention on addressing them.—


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What We Want

By Stokely Carmichael

Reverend Marion Bascom Civilrighting /

A Christian Goon Squad in Black Baltimore

Clarence Logan and the Northwood Movement  / Chester Wickwire Desegregating Gwynn Oak Amusement Park

Roy Wilkins and Spiro Agnew in Annapolis  /  Agnew Speaks to Black Baltimore Leaders 1968

Wayfarer 4th Quarter 1967—Black Baltimore  / The Baltimore Riot of 1968: Photo Exhibit

Riots and the Underclass—the view from America (Cockburn 2011)

Last year the New York police stopped and questioned 601,055 people, predominantly blacks and Hispanics, and the numbers were up 13 per cent for the first six months of this year—

Alexander Cockburn 2011, TheFirstPost

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Walter Hall Lively /  Forty Years of Determined Struggle  / The Wayfarer 4th Quarter 1967 Black Baltimore

Putting Baltimore’s People First  Dominance of Johns Hopkins   A Brief Economic History of Modern Baltimore

Understanding the Monumental City: A Bibliographic Essay on Baltimore History (

Richard J. Cox)

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Die Nigger Die!

A Political Autobiography

By H. Rap Brown (Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin)

foreword by Ekweueme Michael Thelwell / Introduction by Don L. Lee

“A powerful autobiographical and revolutionary statement . . . written with precision and a poetic flow of language.”—Gilbert Osofsky, Chicago Daily News


“It requires exceptional courage to read Die Nigger Die! but failure to read this book is the kind of cowardice that could destroy America.”—Claude Brown


“A bold portrait of a bold man.” —Playboy

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Sammy Younge, Jr. The First Black College Student

to Die in the Black Liberation Movement

By James Forman

Tuskegee native Samuel Younge Jr. (1944-1966) began attending Tuskegee Institute in Macon County in 1965 and advocated for civil rights as a member of the Tuskegee Institute Advancement League. Younge campaigned for racial equality across Alabama and in neighboring Mississippi before his shooting death in Macon County in 1966.

Four months later, Younge was again working a voter-registration drive in Macon County. On January 3, 1966, after he tried to use the whites-only bathroom at a Standard Oil gas station, Younge was shot and killed by attendant Marvin Segrest. He was the first African American student activist killed during the civil rights movement. In the days following his death, thousands marched through the streets of Tuskegee in outrage over the treatment of blacks within the city.

His shooting death at a Macon County service station became a rallying point for opponents of racial inequality during the late 1960s. Despite the demonstrations, Segrest was not indicted for Younge’s murder until November 1966 and was found innocent by an all-white jury the following month. Younge’s death also spurred action from SNCC, which called a press conference on January 6, 1966, to declare its opposition to the war in Vietnam, the first statement of its kind by a civil rights organization. Younge’s death was highlighted at the press conference as an example of the hypocrisy of fighting for freedom abroad while rights were denied in the United States and was used as a call for people to refuse the draft and work for freedom at home instead.—Encyclopedia of Alabama

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

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2 September 2011




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Related files:  Roy Wilkins and Spiro Agnew in Annapolis   Spiro Agnew Speaks to Black Baltimore, 1968    Reverend Marion Bascom’s Civil Righting   Clarence Logan and the Northwood Movement 

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