Rhetoric, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965

By Davis W. Houck; David E. Dixon | Go to book overview

§39 Marion A. Wright

Marion A. Wright was born on January 18, 1894 in Johnston, South Carolina. He attended the University of South Carolina, where he received his law degree in 1919. Prior to practicing corporate law in Conway, South Carolina, Wright taught public school and was a reporter for the Columbia Record. In 1916 he married Lelia Hauser. In Conway, he was chairman of the Illiteracy Commission, as well as a member of the American Civil Liberties Union. From 1951 to 1958 Wright served as president of the Southern Regional Council. He also served the council as vice president from 1958 to 1965. In the following years, Wright founded and became the first president of North Carolinians against the Death Penalty (NCADP). Wright continued to fight for desegregation and the abolition of the death penalty, the two most important issues in his life, until his death on February 14, 1983.

As president and vice president of the Southern Regional Council, Wright often delivered speeches and lectures on important human and civil rights issues, as he used his position to influence his audiences and promote equality. Wright also played a vital role on the board of directors for the American Civil Liberties Union, as he continued to speak out against segregation. His papers are housed at the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

On September 4, 1957 more than three years after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, Charlotte, North Carolina integrated its public schools. In this speech, not long after that historic desegregation, Marion Wright offers a diagnosis of the city’s problems and some possible solutions. Several people are singled out by Wright: Emmett Till, John Kasper, and Dorothy Counts. Wright uses Till’s death as an illustration of a larger point: what state officials say often gets translated into violent and even deadly actions. Wright also warns that noted racist John Kasper was trying to stir up such actions with his September 1st call on the courthouse steps to rise up against the city’s school board and prevent integration. Dorothy Counts integrated Harding High School on September 4. Sadly would she withdraw four days later from the constant harassment, threats, spitting, and even the shattering of a back window of her parents’ car. Wright is particularly attuned to media coverage of the school desegregation: “no longer is action undetected or its full significance unappreciated. So, the eyes of the world are upon Charlotte.” In fact, a picture of Dorothy Counts amid a long line of hecklers would win the World Press Photo of the Year in 1957.

The problem of school desegregation, notes Wright, is not a political problem so much as a moral problem—and politicians are not well qualified to deal with moral problems. The church, however, is, and Wright calls it out for a policy of silence and inaction—which translates into approval for the status quo. Churches must move from making noble proclamations to allowing their doors to swing wide open.

-284-

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Rhetoric, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement, 1954-1965
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Rhetoric, Religion and the Civil Rights Movement v
  • Contents ix
  • Preface xv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1954 17
  • 1954 - §1 Dr. Mordecai Wyatt Johnson 19
  • §2 Charles P. Bowles 31
  • §3 Reverend A. Powell Davies 36
  • §4 Frank P. Graham 42
  • §5 Mary Mcleod Bethune 49
  • §6 Dr. Benjamin E. Mays 55
  • §7 Dr. J. R. Brokhoff 65
  • §8 William Lloyd Imes 71
  • 1955 77
  • 1955 - §9 Sarah Patton Boyle 79
  • §10 Sarah Patton Boyle 82
  • §11 William Lloyd Imes 87
  • §12 Dr. James Hudson 93
  • §13 Mary Mcleod Bethune 96
  • §14 Roy Wilkins 99
  • §15 Albert D’orlando 107
  • §16 Dr. T. R. M. Howard 116
  • §17 Mamie Till-Bradley 131
  • §18 Reverend Robbins Ralph 145
  • §19 Sarah Patton Boyle 150
  • 1956 155
  • 1956 - §20 Branch Rickey 157
  • §21 Reverend Paul N. Carnes 166
  • §22 Dr. J. R. Brokhoff 172
  • §23 Horace Mann Bond 178
  • §24 Dr. James Hudson 187
  • §25 Dr. T. R. M. Howard 192
  • §26 Roy Wilkins 196
  • §27 Reverend D. Perry Ginn 202
  • 1957 207
  • 1957 - §28 P. D. East 209
  • §29 Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr 216
  • §30 Reverend James A. Pike 224
  • §31 Dr. Mordecai Wyatt Johnson 239
  • §32 Representative Adam Clayton Powell 243
  • §33 A. Philip Randolph 246
  • §34 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth 250
  • §35 Dr. Channing H. Tobias 256
  • §36 Shad Polier 266
  • §37 Reverend Marion A. Boggs 270
  • §38 Reverend A. Powell Davies 277
  • §39 Marion A. Wright 284
  • 1958 293
  • 1958 - §40 Reverend James R. Bullock 295
  • §41 Dr. J. R. Brokhoff 302
  • §42 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth 308
  • 1959 313
  • 1959 - §43 Chester Bowles 315
  • §44 Rabbi Max D. Davidson 325
  • §45 Reverend Colbert S. Cartwright 327
  • §46 Reverend Carlos E. Martin 333
  • §47 Reverend Edward Hughes Pruden 340
  • 1960 345
  • 1960 - §48 Governor Leroy Collins 347
  • §49 Reverend James Lawson 356
  • §50 Everett Tilson 362
  • §51 Dr. Benjamin E. Mays 368
  • §52 Dr. Frank P. Graham 377
  • §53 Reverend Edler Garnet Hawkins 382
  • §54 Reverend Will D. Campbell 385
  • §55 Leroy Collins 397
  • 1961 403
  • 1961 - §56 Dr. Haywood N. Hill 405
  • §57 Colbert S. Cartwright 408
  • §58 Reverend William O. Byrd 412
  • §59 Robert J. Mccracken 417
  • §60 Reverend Duncan Howlett 421
  • §61 Rev. Ralph David Abernathy 430
  • §62 Marion A. Wrigth 437
  • §63 James Mcbride Dabbs 445
  • 1962 455
  • 1962 - §64 Heslip “happy” Lee 457
  • §65 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth 464
  • §66 Robert H. Walkup 468
  • §67 Robert H. Walkup 472
  • §68 Charles L. Stanford, Jr 476
  • §69 Reverend Duncan M. Gray, Jr 478
  • §70 Reverend George A. Chauncey 483
  • §71 James Mcbride Dabbs 489
  • §72 James Mcbride Dabbs 502
  • §73 Marion King 510
  • 1963 513
  • 1963 - §74 Reverend J. Claude Evans 515
  • §75 Reverend James A. Pike 522
  • §76 Edler Garnet Hawkins 527
  • §77 Reverend Wyatt Tee Walker 533
  • §78 Reverend J. V. Cosby Summerell 543
  • §79 James Bevel 547
  • §80 Bruce William Klunder 559
  • §81 Eugene Carson Blake 566
  • §82 Francis Gerald Ensley 574
  • §83 Eugene Carson Blake 581
  • §84 Archbishop Patrick O’boyle 583
  • §85 John Lewis 584
  • §86 Charles Morgan, Jr 587
  • §87 Reverend George H. Woodard 591
  • §88 Dick Gregory 596
  • §89 Dr. Arthur E. Shelton 622
  • §90 Frank T. Wilson 627
  • §91 Dave Dennis 631
  • §92 Dave Dennis 634
  • §93 Dr. Aaron Henry 637
  • §94 James Mcbride Dabbs 647
  • §95 Reverend Duncan Howlett 656
  • §96 David G. Colwell 662
  • §97 Robert W. Spike 667
  • §98 Reverend Lawrence Campbell 676
  • 1964 684
  • 1964 - §99 Ella Josephine Baker 685
  • §100 Reverend Edward W. Harris 688
  • §101 Reverend L. Wilson Kilgore 698
  • §102 Reverend Duncan Howlett 705
  • §103 James Mcbride Dabbs 713
  • §104 Mildred Bell Johnson 719
  • §105 Ralph David Abernathy 729
  • §106 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth 738
  • §107 Thomas Merton 743
  • §108 Robert W. Spike 752
  • §109 Albert D’orlando 758
  • §110 Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth 766
  • §111 Robert W. Spike 768
  • §112 Dave Dennis and Reverend Edwin King 774
  • §113 Fannie Lou Hamer 784
  • §114 Father Theodore M. Hesburgh 794
  • §115 Reverend Robert J. Mccracken 813
  • 1965 819
  • 1965 - §116 Kelly Miller Smith 821
  • §117 Hearings before the United States Commission on Civil Rights 826
  • §118 Charles F. Wittenstein 852
  • §119 Reverend Duncan Howlett 857
  • §120 Albert D’orlando 865
  • §121 Roy Wilkins 871
  • §122 Robert A. Reed 873
  • §123 Reverend Duncan Howlett 877
  • §124 Morris B. Abram 884
  • §125 Jonathan Daniels 891
  • §126 Daniel Berrigan 898
  • §127 Reverend Ralph David Abernathy 902
  • §128 Kelly Miller Smith 908
  • §129 Gardner C. Taylor 914
  • §130 Theodore Parker Ferris 919
  • Bibliography 925
  • Index 971
  • Permissions Acknowledgments 997
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