The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 420
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
420 Southwestern Historical Quarterly January
to the early civil rights movement.2 The students, who had few ties to the
local white power structure and no occupation to risk, became the most
viable candidates for protests.
According to George McCoy, a Wiley student-turned-informant at the
conclusion of the Marshall sit-ins, the first attempt to organize demon-
strations began on December 19, 1959, at a National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) meeting at Prairie View A&M
University. Representatives from fraternities of twenty-two black colleges
from Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Mississippi, including Wiley and
Bishop, attended. McCoy, who served as secretary of the meeting, alleged
that Bishop professor Dr. Doxie Wilkerson and Shreveport, Louisiana,
dentist and Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) execu-
tive board member Dr. Cuthbert Simpkins presided over the assembly,
which sought to formulate plans for sit-ins by students of the attending
institutions. Wilkerson questioned the audience, which included Wiley
professor A. P. Watson and students Joel Rucker, Roosevelt Peabody, and
George Holmes, "[o]nce a man is a man, but once a fool is a fool, once a
slave is a slave, what are we, men, slaves, fools?" Wilkerson implored the
approving group to act like men and so requested that each chapter
appropriate $1oo for protests, which all did, except Prairie View A&M
and Butler College. McCoy further claimed that Wilkerson orchestrated a
January lo, 1960, meeting of Wiley and Bishop students and instructed
participants in sit-in tactics. Upon swearing the students to secrecy and
establishing a set of rules, Wilkerson threatened those who breached the
agreement with a $12 fine.4
The Rev. Harry Blake, a 1959 graduate of Bishop College, had been
impressed with the president of the SCLC, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,
when the latter spoke at his commencement. After a meeting with King
2 "196o US Census," United States Historical Census Data Browser (Fisher Library, University of
Virginia), [database online], <http://fisher.hb.virginia .edu/cgi-local/censusbin/census/cen.pl>
[Accessed October 5, 2001oo. For information on Wiley and Bishop history leading up to the sit-ins
see Michael Heintze, Pnvate Black Colleges zn Texas, 1865-1954 (College Station: Texas A&M
University Press, 1985); Lloyd K. Thompson, "The Origins and Development of Black Religious
Colleges in East Texas" (M.A. thesis, North Texas State University, 1976); Gall K Beil, "Sowing the
Seeds of the Civil Rights Movement: Dr. J. Leonard Farmer and Wiley College, Marshall, Texas, as
Case Studies of the Educational Influence on the Modern Civil Rights Leaders" (M.A. thesis,
Stephen F. Austin State University, 1999); and Emmanuel E. Egar, "Development and Termination
of Bishop College Between 1960 and 1988" (Ph.D. diss., University of North Texas, 1990).
'This crucial information is not corroborated by any source other than George McCoy's testi-
mony. Although McCoy passed a polygraph, he and his family lived in the local area (Jefferson),
and he also had a suspended sentence for theft of Social Security checks looming over his head
at the time of the investigation.
'Transcript of conversation between Texas Department of Public Safety intelligence officer
W. L. Boykin and confidential informant George McCoy, Apr. 12, 1960, folder no 8, in State of
Texas v. NAACP Case Records (1934-1961) (Center for American History, University of Texas
at Austin; hereafter cited as State of Texas v. NAACP Case Records).
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/488/: accessed October 20, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.