• NAACP, Eleanor Roosevelt Seek Release Of Two Children Arrested In Monroe, North Carolina, Kissing Case

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    Offering a three-piece mailer, fundraising call to action, photo mechanically printed to recto only and stapled together at one corner, from the Committee to Combat Racial Injustice seeking to expose, raise money for and secure the release of two Black children who were unjustly arrested and incarcerated in what was seen internationally as an outrageous injustice and an embarrassment to the United States.

    In December 1958, two eight- and ten-year-old children of color – James Hanover Thompson and David Simpson – were arrested and incarcerated in Monroe, North Carolina, for six days without being allowed to see their parents or friends. They were sentenced for an indefinite period, accused of kissing two white girls.  The Carolina Times, reported on December 20, 1958, that while a group of children were playing, two white girls sat on the boys’ laps and kissed them.  When told to adults, the story became reversed. When ordering the children incarcerated, Judge J. Hampton Price stated that the boys should have been taught better by their parents.

    Included is a copy of The Carolina Times editorial.  “...We take up the cudgel in this struggle to secure a modicum of justice for the underprivileged of an oppressed people. This mountain which has been made of a mole hill in Monroe never would have been thrown up if the races of the children had been reversed. For what law enforcement agency in North Carolina would arrest, jail and confine to a reformatory two little white boys, ages eight and nine, for kissing two little [Black] girls or being kissed by them?

    “...So on Christmas morning when you gather around the fireside to sing Christmas carols, unwrap your presents and listen to the shouts and laughter of the children of your family we ask you to think of two little boys who at the ages of eight and nine have come to grips with that thing we sometimes refer to as a southern way of life.”

    The mailer also includes a cover letter from the Committee To Combat Racial Injustice, January 14, 1959, seeking to raise money for the case.  In small part, George L. Weissman, Secretary, wrote, that the [Black] community “has been subjected to a ferocious campaign of intimidation, violence and economic reprisal because of their determination to win their civil rights.  In addition, the CCRI has been asked to rally support to combat the frameup of Dr. A.E. Perry, vice-president of the Union County, NAACP, arrested and convicted on a trumped-up charge of performing an abortion on a white woman. Dr. Perry is Monroe’s leading Catholic layman. Hospital records prior to the case show that he had refused to affix his signature to legal sterilization papers giving religious scruples as his reason...” The letter asks that recipients send letters of protest to North Carolina Gov. Luther Hodges and send contributions to the committee to help defray expense “of launching a protest movement that will stay the hand of white supremacists and win a victory for the civil rights fight in this country.”

    When the mailer was sent, Thompson and Simpson’s writ of habeas corpus had just been dismissed by the North Carolina Supreme Court. The children were officially accused of rape and ultimately convicted of molestation for being kissed by Sissy Marcus, a 7- or 8-year-old white girl.  The case created an international outcry and in February 1859, after three months of detention—during which they were beaten and kept from seeing their mothers – the boys were pardoned by Hodges without an apology or explanation. Former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt had lobbied Hodges for their release.

    The Committee To Combat Racial Injustice was formed in response to the case with Robert F. Williams, president of the Union County, NAACP, and a fierce advocate for civil rights, acting as chairman. Other members of the committee included civil rights stalwarts L.E. Austin, Carol Braden, Dr. A.E. Perry (vice president of the Union County NAACP) and Rev. C.K. Steele with George L. Weissman as secretary and Conrad Lynn as general counsel. Williams hired civil rights attorney Conrad Lynn to defend the boys.

    Racial segregation was established in Monroe by a white-dominated legislature after the end of the Reconstruction era. It persisted for nearly a century into the 1960s.  The city’s population was 12,000 but its largest pro-White group had 7,500 members. After World War II, many local Blacks and veterans, including Williams, who was a Marine veteran, began to push to regain constitutional rights after serving the United States and the cause of freedom. 

    The NAACP and the black community in Monroe provided a base for some of the Freedom Riders in 1961, who were trying to integrate interstate bus travel through southern states. Segregation had been illegally imposed on bus lines in the south, although interstate travel was protected under the federal constitution’s provisions regulating interstate commerce.

    In 1961, Williams was accused of kidnapping an elderly white couple when he sheltered them in his house during an explosive situation of high racial tensions.  Williams and his wife fled the United States to avoid prosecution. They went into exile for years in Cuba and in the People’s Republic of China.  In 1969, they finally returned to the United States after Congress had passed important civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965. Williams’ trial was scheduled in 1975, but North Carolina finally reviewed its case and dropped the charges.

    An uncommon piece from the beginning of the Committee To Combat Racial Injustice and Williams’ time with the NAACP.

    Folds, toning. A few small edge tears.  Overall, in very good condition.

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