The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 421
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The Wiley-Bishop Student Movement
and his assistant, the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, in Atlanta, Georgia, at the
beginning of March 1960, Blake became the SCLC field secretary for
the Shreveport area under Simpkins.5 One of Blake's first assignments
included organizing local sit-ins. Blake pointed out that "since the stu-
dent demonstrations had begun [elsewhere] we sought out universities
and colleges closest to us, [specifically] Wiley and Bishop and Southern
University, to organize." While orienting the students to King's non-vio-
lent philosophy, Blake also provided some technical instruction, such as
"how [to] approach a counter, how you should respond if a spectator
approaches you, [and] how to respond to the police."6
Blake, under the direction of and in conjunction with Dr. Simpkins,
provided the initial organizing efforts. While Blake, an alumnus of
Bishop, sought out interested students on the Baptist campus to rally
support among their classmates, Simpkins did the same at his alma
mater, Wiley. Simpkins, who many protesters deemed Martin Luther
King's emissary, spoke at a March 17 Wiley chapel service and relayed
stories of sit-ins transpiring in other locations throughout the country.
Further, he "told them they had the right to be free. That they had a
right to sit in. It was right for them to protest. The country had to accept
people of all colors. Of course there were some whites who believed as
we believed and they couldn't speak up for us, so speak up for your-
selves."' That night Wiley and Bishop students assembled on the Wiley
campus for a joint meeting. Students acknowledged "[i] t [was] time to
take the great step."8
The final mass meeting occurred on Thursday night, March 24, at
Wiley College. Student leaders from both colleges, with the assistance of
Harry Blake, finalized guidelines and rules for demonstrators to follow.
Less than two weeks later, George Holmes recalled the decisions
reached that night to Texas Observer reporter Ronnie Duggar: "If asked
to pay for coffee, refuse to pay for it if it's over a quarter. Continue our
procedure no matter what the crisis may be. Two groups will never be in
the store at one time. If someone at the counter occupies the seats,
SCLC secretary Ernestine Brown to field agent Harry Blake, Mar. 15, 1960, letter, m John H.
Bracey and August Meier (eds.), "Records of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference,
1954-1970, Part II: Records of the Executive Director and Treasurer" (Bethesda, Md.: University
Publications of America: 1995), reel 1, microfilm copy (M D Anderson Library, University of
Houston, Houston, Texas; hereafter cited as SCLC Records).
6The Rev. Harry Blake to Donald Seals Jr., Aug. 24, 2001, telephone interview; tapes of this
and of all other interviews by Donald Seals Jr. are in the author's possession.
7Dr. Cuthbert O. Simpkins to Donald Seals Jr., Aug. 16, 2001, interview; transcript of conver-
sation between Boykm and McCoy, State of Texas v. NAACP Case Records.
" General Investigating Committee Report to the House of Representatives, 57th Legislature
of Texas, 1961, vol. III, Austin, Texas, 24, courtesy Dr. Michael Gillete, National Archives,
Washington, D.C.; hereafter cited as Texas 57th Legislature General Investigating Committee
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/489/: accessed May 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.