Agnew Speaks to Black Baltimore Leaders 1968

Agnew Speaks to Black Baltimore Leaders 1968


ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



 You met in secret with that demagogue and others like him—and you agreed, according

to published reports that have not been denied, that you would not openly criticize

any black spokesman, regardless of the content of his remarks. You were beguiled

by the rationalizations of unity; you were intimidated by veiled threats; you were stung

by insinuations that you were Mr. Charlie’s boy, by epithets like “Uncle Tom.”



Spiro Agnew Speaks to Black Baltimore


Statement at Conference with Civil Rights and Community Leaders

By Spiro T. Agnew

Governor State of Maryland

Agnew angered many African American leaders by lecturing them about their constituents in stating, “I call on you to publicly repudiate all black racists. This, so far, you have been unwilling to do.”—Wikipedia

When the city of Baltimore rioted in 1968, in the aftermath of the assassination of King, Agnew asked 50 black leaders to meet with him. Most walked out as he immediately asked them to denounce inflammatory remarks from Carmichael and Brown.—MLKProject

State Office Building

Baltimore, Maryland

April 11, 1968

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Hard on the heels of tragedy come the assignment of blame and the excuses. I did not invite you here for either purpose. I did not ask you here to recount previous deprivations, or to hear me enumerate prior attempts to correct them. I did not request your presence to bid for peace with the public dollar.

Look around you and you may notice that every one here is a leader—and that each leader present has worked his way to the top. If you’ll observe, the ready-mix, instantaneous type of leader is not present. The circuit-riding, Hanoi-visiting type of leader is missing from this assembly. The caterwauling, 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. And in the vernacular of today—”that’s what it’s all about, baby. ”

Some weeks ago, a reckless stranger to this City, carrying the credentials of a well-known civil rights organization, characterized the Baltimore Police as “enemies of the black man.” Some of you here, to your eternal credit, quickly condemned this demagogic proclamation. You condemned it because you recognized immediately that it was an attempt to undermine lawful authority—the authority under which you were elected and under which you hold your leadership position. You spoke out against it because you knew it was false and was uttered to attract attention and inflame.

When you, who courageously slapped hard at irresponsibility, acted, you did more for civil rights than you realize. But when white leaders openly complimented you for your objective, courageous action, you immediately encountered a storm of censure from parts of the Negro community. The criticism was born of a perverted concept of race loyalty and inflamed by the type of leader who, as I earlier mentioned, is not here today.

And you ran. You met in secret with that demagogue and others like him—and you agreed, according to published reports that have not been denied, that you would not openly criticize any black spokesman, regardless of the content of his remarks. You were beguiled by the rationalizations of unity; you were intimidated by veiled threats; you were stung by insinuations that you were Mr. Charlie’s boy, by epithets like “Uncle Tom.”

God knows I cannot fault you who spoke out for breaking and running in the face of what appeared to be overwhelming opinion in the Negro community. But actually it was only the opinion of those who depend upon chaos and turmoil for leadership—those who deliberately were not invited today. It was the opinion of a few, distorted and magnified by the silence of most of you here today.

Now, parts of many of our cities lie in ruins. You need not leave these City limits to verify the destruction and the resulting hardship to our citizens. And you know whom the fires burned out just as you know who lit the fires. They were not lit in honor of your great fallen leader. Nor were they lit from an overwhelming sense of frustration and despair. Those fires were kindled at the suggestion and 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.

The looting and rioting which has engulfed our City during the past several days did not occur by chance. It is no mere coincidence that a national disciple of violence, Mr. Stokely Carmichael, was observed meeting with local black power advocates and known criminals In Baltimore on April 3, 1968—three days before the Baltimore riots began.

It is deplorable and a sign of sickness in our society that the lunatic fringes of the black and white communities speak with wide publicity while we, the moderates, remain continuously mute. I cannot believe that the only alternative to white racism is black racism. Somewhere the objectives of the civil rights movement have been obscured in a surge of emotional oversimplification. Somewhere the goal of equal opportunity has been replaced by the goal of instantaneous economic equality. This country does not guarantee that every man will be successful but only that he will have an equal opportunity to achieve success. I readily admit 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. And I say that the road we have trodden is built with the sweat of the Roy Wilkinses and the Whitney Youngs—with the spiritual leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King—and not with violence.

Tell me one constructive achievement that has flowed from the madness of the twin priests of violence, Stokely Carmichael and Rap Brown. They do not build—they demolish. They are agents of destruction and they will surely destroy us if we do not repudiate them and their philosophies—along with the white racists such as Joseph Carroll and Connie Lynch—the American Nazi Party, the John Birchers, and their fellow travelers.

The bitterness of past and present days has been brewed by words like these:

We have to retaliate for the deaths of our leaders. The execution for those deaths will not be in the court rooms. They’re going to be in the streets of the United States of America…. Black people know that they have to get guns.—Stokely Carmichael: Washington, D. C., April 5, 1968


To hell with the laws of the United States…. Your brothers in the ghettos are going to wake up with matches… if a white man tries to walk over you, kill him… one match and you can retaliate. Burn, baby, burn… We’re going to tear the cities up….—Stokely Carmichael: Miles College, April 4, 1967


Get yourselves some guns. The honky is your enemy. The brothers are now calling Detroit destroyed. You did a good job here. [This City’s riot will] look like a picnic [after black people unite] to take their due. —Rap Brown: Detroit, August 27, 1967


Black people are being forced to become both judge and jury. We must arm ourselves with rifles, shotguns, pistols, bow and arrows (with poison arrows), BB guns (with poison BBs), gas, rags, bottles and knives. The only way to get justice in this evil land is to kill the white devil before he kills you.—Willard Dixon in a publication, “The Black Dispatch, a voice of the Black Ghetto. ”

What possible hope is there for peace in our community if these apostles of anarchy are allowed to spew hatred unchallenged?  If we are to learn from bitter experience, if we are to progress in the battle for equal opportunity, we must plan together and execute those plans together. To do this we must be able to communicate. We cannot communicate and progress if the lunatic fringes are included in the problem-solving team.  

I publicly repudiate, condemn, and reject all white racists. I call upon you to publicly repudiate, condemn and reject all black racists. This, so far, you have not been willing to do. I call upon you as Americans to speak out now against the treason and hate of Stokely Carmichael and Rap Brown. If our nation is not to move toward two separate societies—one white and one black—you have an obligation, too.

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

It is not too late to return to the true target of the crusade for equality. The target is the elimination of all prejudice against Negroes in America and the provision of an equal opportunity to reach the top. That target will be realized when every man is judged on his own individual merit and only on his merit. Divisiveness and the doctrine of apartheid are impenetrable barriers between us and that target. With your help they can be torn down 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.

Some hard things needed to be said. The desperate need to confront the problem squarely justified the political risk in saying them.  I need your help, but your help would be of little value if you did not know and subscribe to the objectives for which I seek it. We can do much together—little apart. Blind militancy must be converted into constructive purpose. This cannot occur so long as you or I condone or cling to racism, black or white. We do not deserve the mantle of leadership unless we are prepared to wear it proudly and, if need be, defiantly.

Above all, 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. These are the people who will be unjustly victimized by a hardening of attitudes in the responsible, decent white community—white people who clearly repudiated racism in the 1966 election—white people who could normally be expected to endorse the 1967 open housing legislation on referendum this November.

My greatest fear is this polarization of attitudes as an aftermath of violence. Next I fear that we cannot endure continuous tension over the next months—that our community cannot live in constant fear that any irrational provocation may cause racial war.

Together we must work first to prevent polarization and second to reduce tension. I will need your vision and your voice. Now as never before your articulate, responsible leadership is needed. I am prepared to do whatever I can to aid the innocent victims of last weekend’s rampage, to alleviate clear abuses and to enlarge opportunity within the inner city.  We must do this—as I said in my report to the people last Sunday night—”not out of fear of reprisal but out of certain faith that it is right.”

So let us begin to rebuild now—to rebuild our City and to rebuild the image of Baltimore. 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. Let us promptly and publicly renounce any who counsel or condone violence. Let us acknowledge that we have a real stake in our society. Let us proudly acclaim our patriotism and our recognition that no other nation in the world offers such opportunity.

The fiction that Negroes lack any opportunity in this country is dispelled by the status of those of you in this room.  As Thomas Jefferson said, nearly two centuries ago, “With all the imperfections of our present government, it is without comparison the best existing, or that ever did exist.”

Source: Maryland State Arcives

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Homer Favor and Rev. Marion Bascom

Interviewed by Fraser Smith of WYPR


June 2007

Smith: Let’s cover some ground I know we need to cover. I want to talk a little about the meting with then Governor Agnew. I don’t know if you were there. You may have been there. I know Reverend [Marion Curtis] Bascom you were there. And one of the first things you told me when we talked years ago was that and I think it might have been when you were walking into the room. It was either walking into that room or some other room it might have been that one because of what he said. He looked at you and he said something like: You disgust me.

Bascom: No to be more specific, he said: Every time I see you I’m repulsed by you. By which I answered: That’s a problem you’ll have to overcome. That was done in his office at Towson. Vernon [Dobson], Frank [Williams], Robert Newbold and I were there. We had been brought there by Robert Newbold who was Mister Republican during those days. And it was at that time that we had an unfortunate wrestling of words.

Smith: So, but you were there later. Weren’t you on that day?

Bascom: Oh yes.

Smith: I know…

Favor: Let me interrupt you briefly.

Smith: Sure, sure.

Favor: I am always late much to the chagrin of my dear friend here. So that day I was trying to get there. I was running late and the news came on and they went on to say that Governor Spiro Agnew had . . . they didn’t say . . . cursed that’s what it meant, out the black leaders and had humiliated them and tried to set them correct etc. And so I said um, I wasn’t even at the meeting yet, it hadn’t started. It was scheduled for say twelve o’clock and this news was at twelve. So I went in and said: Wait! This is a trap! A trap! I called Parren [Mitchell] a side. Marion, I said it’s a set up. I explained to them that they already given news clippings that he’s going to cuss us out. And the cameras were up there rolling so. Verda Welcome says no! No! We don’t  . .  . I said let’s leave! Let’s leave! No! No! Let’s stay and hear. That’s the only reason we stayed.

Smith: I think Juanita Mitchell was there and she stayed. Because I think she wanted to hear the rest of it.

Favor: Well that was what was said.

Smith: Enough people did leave, right?

Favor: No, what happened…

Smith: Well a few people left, I think.

Favor: Well a few I took them out and then they went back after they insisted and we‘d hear them out. We stayed that would have never happened. That’s the point I’m trying to make.

Smith: I see. I see.

Bascom: I think it’s fair to say that it happened so spontaneously quickly. Until it’s all most difficult to be overly specific as to the immediate logistics of what occurred. One thing I know: That we were seated there an um . . . We had been brought in by a young black PHD who was Secretary to Agnew. I can’t think of his name. But at any rate the room was pretty much full. And it was at the State Office Building; I think on the fourteenth floor. At any rate when Mr. Agnew preceded to begin his diatribe against the Black Community . . .  I don’t know who got up first. But I know there was a . . . an unusually amount of unrest that just shook the room. And um, I guess before I knew it I was on my feet walking toward the door. I do remember Juanita specifically saying: I’m going to stay.

But I’m very sure that from there we walked around to Douglas Memorial Church where I served them and had a meeting. It’s unfortunate that we did not write some of these things down. As Homer has become an Octogenarian of sorts. Much of this we did not write down with great specificity. But the fact is: Some of us went and it seems to me that Mr. Levi who was President or Vice President of the Mercantile Bank a number of others of us went to Douglas Memorial and had a lengthy discussion as to our resentment. And I guess the rest is fairly vague to me. This is one of the reasons we so often need to sit down and recollect.

Smith: One of the things I wish you would comment on is the very difficult position that you were in. You were accused of not helping quell things. Meanwhile you’re out there in the street at some risk to yourselves, I would imagine. And ministering to people who are outraged about has happened to King. And being seen, probably from that quarter, as being too compliant with what officials wanted you to do and on the other hand you’re being upbraided by the Governor who says you’re not doing enough.

Bascom: Well the notion of a Scapegoat is gone way back into Jewish history out in the wilderness. And Mr. Agnew needed a scapegoat the State of Maryland needed a scapegoat. So we were the scapegoat to go out to be driven into the wilderness. Because the state and the city had failed so miserable to do so many of the things that they should have done. That’s about as far as I can go with it.

Favor: Well actually, me personally never took him seriously. He was an empty vessel, he was a pseudo intellectual. He [was] an effete snob and that kind of nonsense. But he had no substance. I remember one time I put my finger right in his nose and told him what I thought of him; because he was so small.

Smith: You know I think your perception of what happened there is right on.

Favor: I remember that like it was yesterday. I was the one who called them out.

Smith: Tommy D’Alesandro told me that he had urged Agnew not to do this. And I said: What do you mean. He said: I saw a copy of what he intended to say. So apparently they released it even before you know people got into the room. Tell me what you saw on the street when things were pretty hazardous there on those two or three days when the city was burning.

Favor: Let me say Marion was Commissioner, first black Commissioner of the Fire Department.

Bascom: Fire Department.

Favor: And they pull up in front of my house and the town was burning in a jeep and say: come on let’s go. So I say: I’m going to risk my life, my family, for this. And we remember Martin Jenkins telling Jim Rouse, he said: We can not expect to live comfortable amidst all this despair, this dissonance and disharmony and it might blow at any time. It’s like a bunch of dirty rags. So than when it blew, here we are going out trying to . . . It was like when I was in the military I had no idea when . . . I had never thought when we were out there Marion that we would ever see a peaceful day. That’s how it was. When will it ever quiet? I mean I didn’t . . . There was no solution. So we saw . . . 

Smith: At the peak of it you were . . . ..

Favor: Right. We saw a lady; a lovely lady nondescript had two or three children. And they knocked a window out to a cleaning shop and next door was a liquor store. She had the bottles of liquor and they had the clothes that they took out of the cleaners. We spoke to them and they said: Mind your own business.

Smith: What could you say? What did you say?

Bascom: I don’t think you could say anything but to deliver your presence there. The terrible stench of smoke that could be seen across the city, vandals loose in the field. And of course I’m not going to curse out those vandals anymore than I would curse out the Irish or any other group who find it convenient to get things for free, the same thing that happened in New Orleans. And essentially you have to remember, you don’t have to but I suggest that you remember that people who have lost a kind of saviour discover that he has been brutally murdered who had such high hopes. You know most people forget that during the time of Martin Luther King. There were there were high hopes in the country and it was when they had crucified him that hopelessness reigned supreme. I suspect that’s about as much as I can say about it, other than  . . .

Smith: You know I heard about that day . . . about the day of the assassination. What do you remember?

Favor: I remember walking into my dining room and my wife telling me that they had murdered King and I cried like a baby. Cried like a baby because I said: when is this going to stop; the killing of the prophets? When’s it going to stop? A story I’m going to share with you. I never said this publicly. I might be making a mistake; I hope not. But Jim Rouse was a very dear friend of ours he called me within a week of this and I had learned that down at the Morris Mechanic Theatre. People, business men were there. Someone was showing the dogs that could be used to control people, guns and all that.

So he said Homer: if I showed you a picture of one of your cohorts, compatriots torching a building would you believe it? Would you do anything about it? And I didn’t know what to say to him. I respected him, I loved him so finally it occurred to me I said: Jim, I’m sorry you asked me that. I said: because I feel unclean because I didn’t burn down a building! These people were protesting the brutal treatment that we got and I did not participate in it. So I don’t know and that was the end of the conversation.

Smith: Gibson tells me that when you ask people about 1968 . . . this is a generalization and not true across the board . . . but he says: If you ask white people what happened in that week: they say there was rioting in Baltimore and if you ask black people what happened they say: Somebody killed Martin Luther King.

Favor: I never referred to it as riot it was civil disturbance. Riots you go after people. You cut off the heads of pretty little young girls, you shoot and stab and cut anyone. We didn’t do that. They just lashed out in despair. It was a disturbance. I never called it a riot.

Bascom: I would agree with you and suggest even further that um . . . when people lose all hope you expect them to behave hopelessly. And you’ll remember that those were the days when corner stores and corner liquor stores invested the black community and liquor that would cost, whatever it would cost at a given point would be far different from liquor in the inner city. So then you’re talking about a people that were stripped bare. Who expected to act as if they had achieved something in the death of Martin Luther King. You ask me how I felt. I felt hopeless. You ask me how I feel today. And though there are those who have made it I still have a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. Because, until the nation decides to act grown up and to put it’s energies on educating and housing we can expect this to happen again.

Smith: So if we look back we can’t say we made a tremendous amount of progress . . . in some areas we have but in the areas you’re speaking of we haven’t made a lot of progress.

Favor: Well, you know in the midst of this Marion. You recall we had these discussions, this goon squad . . .

Bascom: Ah hum.

Favor: And I said we are celebrating. But the enemy quote unquote has hired the best and the brightest, formed them into think tanks and an oxymoron that’s one to crank out a vile destruction of a people known today as the Heritage, the American Enterprise Institute, and on and on. And so while we are celebrating they are redrawing. So what do we have now the neo-cons and they’ve come back with. . . . We’ve had this assault upon Affirmative Action. As black people we never benefited by Affirmative Action. White females did, other minorities did. We got a smidgen. But it was our blood, our sweat, and our tears that got that. So what we see now is a massive effort to turn back the clock.

Smith: Did you ever think the Civil Disturbance had the opposite effect that it might have had? That it that it might have sent people into sort of a retrenchment and a reaction against civil rights?

Favor: I sure some people said they’re looking for anything right now. They look for things to support that which is wrong. So a kid kills a kid out here on the corner here tonight and I find that abhorrent. So does Marion; he has to bury him. But I can’t curse those kids because they were put on that corner by public policy. There daddies worked at Sparrows Point, Martin Marietta, Armco Steel, Crown Cork and Seal. Where are those jobs now? And we’re over there exploiting people making beautiful clothes for us to wear, working round the clock, kids can’t go to school and we’re exploiting labor there and we’re exploiting labor here. So we tell those kids to go to work, doing what: flipping hamburgers. Two jobs no benefits. Go to the military be what you can be. You get your guts blown out.

And so now when they stand on the corner, if they are on my corner and you sitting here overtaking my corner. I say if you kill them, I’m going to kill you. Bam! Bam! All this is related to drugs. The jails are full of youngsters related to drugs. They give our youngsters… You have to have a hundred times white cocaine in order to get the amount of time you get for that much crack cocaine. That’s racist it’s classist, it’s absurd, it’s in humane. But that’s what there doing. I know it the media knows it but we’ve corrupted the media. When I saw Ted Koppel and the rest of them riding around on the trucks saying they were imbedded. They were talking about figurative. When I say literally they were imbedded.

Smith: Laughing . . . oh, right, right. When Tommy was in here talking to us on the same subject and he said that first of all there was the general hope that, I think because of McKeldin and because, because he had been somewhat more liberal and willing to talk to people, that maybe Baltimore would escape the difficulties that were sweeping the country. And for a couple of days it looked like that would be the case.

Favor: We did escape in ’67, that’s when the other cities burned.

Smith: Right.

Favor: So we were relaxed—it’s all over. But they came along in 1968 Bobby Kennedy got whacked and then Martin Luther King got whacked and boom! It exploded.

Smith: And the other part of that though was that their hope I guess in the bunker down there in the 5th Regiment Armory was that if you got to Sunday and people went to church that might also be something that might calm some people’s unhappiness.

Bascom: But what they didn’t understand was that Sunday belongs to a few worshipers that there are far more people out in the streets on Sunday mornings than in church. Sunday would not solve the problem. It would take something more deeply entrenched.

Favor: Marion you remember our Good Friday service?

Bascom: It was at your church.

Favor: That year all the Mayor and everybody else came to that Good Friday service. The next year it was diminished. The next year . .  

Bascom: It was diminished.

Favor: Well one thing I’ll also say: We settled the garbage strike. Tommy D’Alesandro was the Mayor. Remember Marion we sat in there all night long?

Bascom: In the City Hall. All night long.

Favor: They brought goons in from…

Bascom: All over. . . .

Source: UB Archives

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“’68: The Fire Last Time,” Part 4

Sunni Khalid – Narrator

WYPR ‘s Five-part Documentary Series, ’68: The Fire Last Time

Some people call it a riot – others refer to it as a citizen uprising . Both terms describe a period of confusion, anger, and tension that engulfed the city in April 1968 following the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ’68: The Fire Last Time, looks at the aftermath of the upheaval

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Homer E. Favor,  a young African American faculty member, arrived at Morgan State College in 1956  and sowed the seeds of urban studies. His dissertation was on property value and race-a topic that aroused his interest in poor urban communities. His arrival at Morgan began a period of intense involvement in community planning activities in Baltimore neighborhoods. His outreach to the community led to the establishment of the Urban Studies Institute in 1963. This unit was funded through the general college appropriations. With the support of then University President, the late Martin D. Jenkins tied to Dr. Favor’s untiring commitment to urban problems, a new entity—the Center for Urban Affairs—was developed at Morgan in 1970. President Jenkins’ personal connections at the Ford Foundation helped secure grant support for a four-year period. When the grant expired, the state’s increasing share of the funding eventually supported all programs.—


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Marion C. Bascom—I was born in Pensacola, Florida, March [the] 14th, 1925, which makes me 81 years old. I, of course, went to school in Pensacola for the greater portion of my twelve years. I graduated from Washington High School in Pensacola Florida and then went to Florida Memorial College in St. Augustine.

I’m, also, a graduate of Howard University Divinity School which is located in Washington. I’ve done some study at Garrett Biblical Institute  in Evanston Illinois, as well as, a little work at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington.

I guess that is my academic portfolio.

I have, of course, been honored by Florida Memorial College with a Doctor of Divinity, which is honorary, and I have been granted an honorary degree from Morgan State University where I served for two or three years as Director of the Morgan Christian Center. . . . after finishing college, I went on to become the pastor of the First Baptist Church in St. Augustine and for a brief while became president of the National  Association for the Advancement of Colored People the local branch.

It was there that I became really active because I had come out of a college that was quite active in the city. [And] as a result after becoming pastor of the First Baptist I recognized some things that things that were going on in St. Augustine in St. Johns County. St. Augustine, as you probably know, is the oldest city in the United States; it still has a slave market at the heart of the city.—Marion Bascom Interview November 2006

In 1946, Bascom earned his B.S. degree in English from Florida Memorial College. He also served as pastor of Shiloh Baptist and First Baptist Church, both in Pensacola. In 1948, he earned his bachelor’s of divinity degree from Howard University. The following year, Bascom began his 46-year tenure at Douglas Memorial Community Church in Baltimore, Maryland. While at Douglas, Bascom demonstrated his strong leadership skills in the pulpit as well as the community. In 1962, he created “Camp Farthest Out,” an overnight summer camp for underprivileged children. In 1963, Bascom participated in the Gwen Oak Park Demonstration, a protest that led to the desegregation of Baltimore’s amusement parks. Bascom was appointed Baltimore’s first African American Fire Commissioner in 1968, and under his leadership and direction calm was restored to the city after the disturbances following Martin Luther King’s assassination. In 1970, he received an honorary doctorate of divinity from his alma mater, Florida Memorial College. Bascom also founded the Association of Black Charities, an umbrella organization of the United Way. Bascom’s commitment to the community includes the development of Douglas Village, a 49-unit apartment complex, The Douglas Memorial Federal Credit Union and a “Meals-on-Wheels” program for the sick and elderly. After his retirement from Douglas Memorial in 1995, Bascom served as the interim Director of Morgan University’s Christian Center. He has received numerous awards for his civic and community leadership. He is a member of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, the National Council of Community Churches and the Baltimore Hospitals Commission Board.—TheHistoryMakers

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Spiro Theodore Agnew (November 9, 1918 – September 17, 1996) was the 39th Vice President of the United States (1969-1973), serving under President Richard Nixon, and the 55th Governor of Maryland (1967-1969). He was also the first Greek American to hold these offices.

During his fifth year as Vice President, in the late summer of 1973, Agnew was under investigation by the United States Attorney‘s office in Baltimore, Maryland, on charges of extortion, tax fraud, bribery and conspiracy. In October, he was formally charged with having accepted bribes totaling more than $100,000, while holding office as Baltimore County Executive, Governor of Maryland, and Vice President of the United States. On October 10, 1973, Agnew was allowed to plead no contest to a single charge that he had failed to report $29,500 of income received in 1967, with the condition that he resign the office of Vice President.

Agnew is the only Vice President in United States history to resign because of criminal charges. Ten years after leaving office, in January 1983, Agnew paid the state of Maryland nearly $270,000 as a result of a civil suit that stemmed from the bribery allegations. . . .

Agnew ran for the position of Governor of Maryland in 1966. In this overwhelmingly Democratic state, he was elected after the Democratic nominee, George P. Mahoney, a Baltimore paving contractor and perennial candidate running on an anti-integration platform, narrowly won the Democratic gubernatorial primary out of a crowded slate of eight candidates, trumping early favorite Carlton R. Sickles. Coming on the heels of the recently passed federal Fair Housing Act of 1965, Mahoney’s campaign embraced the slogan “your home is your castle”. Many Democrats opposed to segregation then crossed party lines to give Agnew the governorship by 82,000 votes.

As governor, Agnew worked with the Democratic legislature to pass tax and judicial reforms, as well as tough anti-pollution laws. Projecting an image of racial moderation, Agnew signed the state’s first open-housing laws and succeeded in getting the repeal of an anti-miscegenation law. However, during the riots that followed the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., in the spring of 1968, Agnew angered many African American leaders by lecturing them about their constituents in stating, “I call on you to publicly repudiate all black racists. This, so far, you have been unwilling to do.”—Wikipedia

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Military response—With the spread of civil disturbances across the nation, Maryland National Guard troops were called up for state duty on April 5, 1968, in anticipation of disturbances in Baltimore or the suburban portions of Maryland bordering Washington, DC. When rioting broke out in Baltimore on April 6, nearly the entire Maryland National Guard, both Army and Air, were called up to deal with the unrest. The notable exceptions were the state’s air defense units (which manned surface to air missile sites around the state), those units already on duty in the Washington, DC area, and a unit positioned in Cambridge, Maryland (the site of race riots in 1963 and 1967). The Adjutant General of Maryland, Major General George M. Gelston, commanded the National Guard force and also was given control of the city and state police forces in the city (approximately 1,900 police officers)

The combined National Guard and police force proved unable to contain the rioting and on Sunday, April 7, federal troops were requested. Late that evening, elements of the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, North Carolina began arriving on the scene. With the intervention of federal forces, the Maryland National Guard was called into federal duty, resulting in a shift from state control (reporting to the Governor of Maryland) to federal control (reporting through the Army chain of command to the President). The federal force, Task Force Baltimore, was organized into three brigades and a reserve. These were (roughly), the XVIII Airborne Corps troops, the Maryland National Guard, and troops from the 197th Infantry Brigade from Fort Benning, Georgia (which arrived two days later). The 1,300 troops of the Maryland Air National Guard were organized in a provisional battalion and used to guard critical infrastructure throughout the city, as well as an ad hoc detention facility at the Baltimore Civic Center. Task Force Baltimore peaked at 11,570 Army and National Guard troops on April 9, of which all but about 500 were committed to riot control duties

Rioting continued for several days as the Task Force sought to reassert control. Early on April 12, federal troops began to depart and by 6 pm that evening responsibility for riot control returned to the National Guard. At midnight Task Force Baltimore ceased to exist and the remainder of federal troops were withdrawn. Maryland National Guard troops remained on duty in the city until April 14, when Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew declared the emergency over and sent them home.

After action reports credited both the National Guard and active Army forces for being extremely disciplined and restrained in dealing with the disturbance, with only four shots fired by National Guard troops and two by active Army troops.—Wikipedia

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Ruling Class Talks ‘Non-Violence’ Sends 61,000 Troops in Reign of Terror—By Naomi Goldstein—April 11, 1968—Troops with bayonets bared marched through the streets of eastern and western Baltimore Monday, where 100,000 Black people live in poverty.

April 7, Johnson had 2,000 troops dispatched to Baltimore at Gov. Agnew’s request to help the 6,000 National Guardsmen and 1,600 city and state police. By April 8, there were 10,848 troops in Baltimore. Five killed, 12 critically injured, over 500 injured and 3,200 arrested added to the mounting nationwide list of Black people murdered and wounded. The fifth person killed in Baltimore was a Black mean shot down in the street for “suspected looting.”

One New York Times report of April 9 revealed that cops were using dogs against the people in the Afro-American communities. April 8, it was reported that the Black people were beginning to use guerrilla warfare tactics to drive off the armed invaders. Police were shot at and stoned from the roofs and pelted with bottles and bricks as they patrolled the besieged Black communities.—Workers

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Voices for Change JHU—The History of Black Student Activism at Johns Hopkins University”—By Adam Lovett Senior Thesis 2008—A record number of destructive riots had erupted in predominantly black neighborhoods in cities all across the country; this resulted from mounting discontent and despair over economic decline, racial tension, and a history of police brutality.

On April 4, 1968, the Reverend Martin Luther King was assassinated. As a result of anger and frustration, radical black leaders and the poor and unemployed Blacks whom they recruited into the civil rights struggle reacted with riots in 125 cities. In Baltimore, riots broke out on Saturday April 6; originating on Gay Street, the riots lasted 6 days and eventually spread over many parts of the city. Governor Spiro T. Agnew called out thousands of National Guard troops and 500 Maryland State Police to quell the disturbance. When it was determined that the state forces could not control the riot, Agnew requested federal troops from President Lyndon B. Johnson.

By Sunday evening, 5000 paratroopers, combat engineers, and artillerymen from the XVIII Airborne Corps in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, specially trained in riot control tactics, including sniper school, were on the streets of Baltimore with fixed bayonets and equipped with chemical disperser backpacks. By the time the riot was over, six people were dead, 700 injured, 4,500 arrested and over 1000 fires set.—JHUScholarship

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Remembering the Riots—By Mile Field—On the morning of Saturday, April 6, 1968, two days after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, memorial services took place across Baltimore. The city remained quiet until about 5 p.m. that day. Then on Gay Street, looting started near the corner of Orleans, a half mile from the Johns Hopkins Hospital. In the end, the Baltimore riots would last three days, kill six, injure more than 700, and require the National Guard and 5,000 paratroopers to restore order. By then, 4,500 people would be arrested, and a thousand businesses would be looted or burned. . . . “When the Eighteenth Airborne comes in and closes your city down with curfews starting at 4 p.m. and they put a machine gun nest on the roof of your building, it gets your attention. It was hard to think that these sorts of things could occur in America.”

Seidel also sees the riots as a turning point. “At that time,” he says, “we hadn’t made sufficient effort to work constructively with the people among whom we were living. We weren’t communicating on a satisfactory level. After ’68, I remember [future mayor Clarence] ‘Du’ Burns working with [future hospital president] Bob Heyssel. Things began to change.” And Adkinson, looking back from 41 years, marvels at what he has witnessed: “I think I and many others are amazed at how far we’ve come. It may indicate not a linear path but an exponential one as to what’s possible. It gives me hope for the nation and for our society. It affirms the possibility of healing.”—HopkinsMedicine


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Stokely Carmichael, “Black Power”—Kalen M. A. Churcher—Speaking at Morgan State College in Baltimore on January 28, 1967, Carmichael displayed the very different style he used when addressing a predominantly black audience. Joking about how he partied at the school and participated in a sit-in near campus when he was younger, he also gave his audience at Morgan State a serious charge: overcoming the negative connotations of “black” that he had talked about in Berkeley. “If you want to stop rebellion,” he said, “then eradicate the cause.”

Carmichael then spoke of their responsibilities as leaders and intellectuals within the black community: “It is time for you to stop running away from being black. You are college students, you should think. It is time for you to begin to understand that you, as the growing intellectuals, the black intellectuals of the country, must begin to define beauty for black people.”— Stokely Carmichael, “At Morgan State,” in Stokely Speaks; Black Power Back to Pan-Africanism, ed. E.N. Minor (New York: Random House, 1966), 61-76.—Archive

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What We Want

By Stokely Carmichael

A Christian Goon Squad in Black Baltimore 

Clarence Logan and the Northwood Movement  /

Reverend Marion Bascom Civilrighting

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

*   *   *   *   *

Walter Hall Lively   Forty Years of Determined Struggle 

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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The End of Black Rage? Class and Delusion in Black America (Jared Ball)

The Black Generation Gap (Ellis Cose)  /

*   *   *   *   *

Black Power, A Critique of the System / Black Power  / What We Want

Amite County   Beginning   Kish Mir Tuchas     A Tribute to Kwame Toure/Stokely Carmichael

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Stokely Speaks; Black Power Back to Pan-Africanism

By Stokely Carmichael

Stokely Standiford Churchill Carmichael—(June 29, 1941 – November 15, 1998), also known as Kwame Ture, was a Trinidadian-American black activist active in the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement. He rose to prominence first as a leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced “Snick”) and later as the “Honorary Prime Minister” of the Black Panther Party. Initially an integrationist, Carmichael later became affiliated with black nationalist and Pan-Africanist movements. He popularized the term “Black Power.” In 1965, working as an SNCC activist in Lowndes County, Alabama, Carmichael helped to increase the number of registered black voters from 70 to 2,60 — 300 more than the number of registered white voters.

Black residents and voters organized and widely supported the Lowndes County Freedom Organization, a party that had the black panther as its mascot, over the white dominated local Democratic Party, whose mascot was a white rooster. Although black residents and voters outnumber whites in Lowndes, they lost the county wide election of 1965.

Carmichael became chairman of SNCC later in 1966, taking over from John Lewis. A few weeks after Carmichael took office, James Meredith was attacked with a shotgun during his solitary “March Against Fear”. Carmichael joined Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Floyd McKissick, Cleveland Sellers, and others to continue Meredith’s march. He was arrested once again during the march and, upon his release, he gave his first “Black Power” speech, using the phrase to urge black pride and socio-economic independence:

“It is a call for black people in this country to unite, to recognize their heritage, to build a sense of community. It is a call for black people to define their own goals, to lead their own organizations.” While Black Power was not a new concept, Carmichael’s speech brought it into the spotlight and it became a rallying cry for young African Americans across the country. According to Stokely Carmichael : “Black Power meant black people coming together to form a political force and either electing representatives or forcing their representatives to speak their needs [rather than relying on established parties]. Heavily influenced by the work of Frantz Fanon and his landmark book Wretched of the Earth, along with others such as Malcolm X, under Carmichael’s leadership SNCC gradually became more radical and focused on Black Power as its core goal and ideology. This became most evident during the controversial Atlanta Project in 1966.

SNCC, under the local leadership of Bill Ware, engaged in a voter drive to promote the candidacy of Julian Bond for the Georgia State Legislature in an Atlanta district. However, unlike previous SNCC activities—like the 1961 Freedom Rides or the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer — Ware excluded Northern white SNCC members from the drive. Initially, Carmichael opposed this move and voted it down, but he eventually changed his mind. When, at the urging of the Atlanta Project, the issue of whites in SNCC came up for a vote, Carmichael ultimately sided with those calling for the expulsion of whites, reportedly to encourage whites to begin organizing poor white southern communities while SNCC would continue to focus on promoting African American self reliance through Black Power. Carmichael saw nonviolence as a tactic as opposed to a principle, which separated him from moderate civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr.. Carmichael became critical of civil rights leaders who simply called for the integration of African Americans into existing institutions of the middle class mainstream.

Stokely Carmichael—Black Power Speech

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Obama and Black Americans: the Paradox of Hope—By Gary Younge—But for all the ways black America has felt better about itself and looked better to others, it has not actually fared better. In fact, it has been doing worse. The economic gap between black and white has grown since Obama took power. Under his tenure black unemployment, poverty and foreclosures are at their highest levels for at least a decade.

Millions of black kids may well aspire to the presidency now that a black man is in the White House. But such a trajectory is less likely for them now than it was under Bush. Herein lies what is at best a paradox and at worst a contradiction within Obama’s core base of support. The very group most likely to support him—black Americans—is the same group that is doing worse under him.—TheNation

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



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#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

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#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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The End of Anger

A New Generation’s Take on Race and Rage

By Ellis Cose

From a venerated and bestselling voice on American life comes a contemporary look at the decline of black rage; the demise of white guilt; and the intergenerational shifts in how blacks and whites view, and interact with, each other. In the heady aftermath of President Obama’s election, conventional wisdom suggested that the bitter, angry, and destructive elements of discrimination were ebbing at last and America was becoming a postracial nation. . . . Weaving material from myriad interviews as well as two large and ambitious surveys that he conducted—one of black Harvard MBAs and the other of graduates of A Better Chance, a program offering elite educational opportunities to thousands of young people of color since 1963—Cose offers an invaluable portrait of contemporary America that attempts to make sense of what a people do when the dream, for some, is finally within reach as one historical era ends and another begins.—Ecco, 2011

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Here lies Jim Crow: Civil rights in Maryland

 By C. Fraser Smith

Though he lived throughout much of the South—and even worked his way into parts of the North for a time—Jim Crow was conceived and buried in Maryland. From Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s infamous decision in the Dred Scott case to Thurgood Marshall’s eloquent and effective work on Brown v. Board of Education, the battle for black equality is very much the story of Free State women and men. Here, Baltimore Sun columnist C. Fraser Smith recounts that tale through the stories, words, and deeds of famous, infamous, and little-known Marylanders. He traces the roots of Jim Crow laws from Dred Scott to Plessy v. Ferguson and describes the parallel and opposite early efforts of those who struggled to establish freedom and basic rights for African Americans.

Following the historical trail of evidence, Smith relates latter-day examples of Maryland residents who trod those same steps, from the thrice-failed attempt to deny black people the vote in the early twentieth century to nascent demonstrations for open access to lunch counters, movie theaters, stores, golf courses, and other public and private institutions—struggles that occurred decades before the now-celebrated historical figures strode onto the national civil rights scene.

Smith’s lively account includes the grand themes and the state’s major players in the movement—Frederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman, Thurgood Marshall, and Lillie May Jackson, among others.—and also tells the story of the struggle via several of Maryland’s important but relatively unknown men and women—such as Gloria Richardson, John Prentiss Poe, William L. “Little Willie” Adams, and Walter Sondheim—who prepared Jim Crow’s grave and waited for the nation to deliver the body.—Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008

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Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change

By John Lewis

The Civil Rights Movement gave rise to the protest culture we know today, and the experiences of leaders like Congressman Lewis have never been more relevant. Now, more than ever, this nation needs a strong and moral voice to guide an engaged population through visionary change. Congressman John Lewis was a leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. He was chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and played a key role in the struggle to end segregation. Despite more than forty arrests, physical attacks, and serious injuries, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. He is the author of his autobiography, Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of a Movement, and is the recipient of numerous awards from national and international institutions, including the Lincoln Medal; the John F. Kennedy “Profile in Courage” Lifetime Achievement Award (the only one of its kind ever awarded); the NAACP Spingarn Medal; and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, among many others.

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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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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 /

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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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update 27 May 2012




Home  Civil Rights: Struggle for Black Power      Baltimore Index Page   Amin Sharif Table

Related files:  Roy Wilkins and Spiro Agnew in Annapolis    Reverend Marion Bascom’s Civil Righting   Clarence Logan and the Northwood Movement  Black Power

Chester Wickwire Desegregating Gwynn Oak Amusement Park  Commentary on “Color Line and War”      Editorials on Lynching      Walter White Biography 

Walter White Biography Table  Walter White Reviews   Walter Hall Lively   Forty Years of Determined Struggle  Much is Expected   Juanita E. Jackson Bio 

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