Reports of Meetings of the Inter-Civic Council of Tallahassee, July-September 1956

Reports of Meetings of the Inter-Civic Council of Tallahassee, July-September 1956

Transcript

THE INFORMATION HEREIN IS TO BE CONSIDERED MOST CONFIDENTIAL AND IS NOT TO BE RELEASED WITHOUT THE AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OFFICIALS OF THE CITY OF TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA OF CHIEF OF POLICE FRANK STOUTAMIRE


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THE INFORMATION HEREIN IS TO BE CONSIDERED MOST CONFIDENTIAL AND IS NOT TO BE RELEASED WITHOUT THE AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OFFICIALS OF THE CITY OF TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA OF CHIEF OF POLICE FRANK STOUTAMIRE

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MEMORANDUM REPORT OF SPECIAL MEETING OF INTER-CIVIC COUNCIL HELD JULY 31, 1956 AT A.M.E. CHURCH, CORNER OF VIRGINIA AND DUVAL STREETS, TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA

The meeting was held July 31, 1956 at Bethel A.M.E. Church with approximately 200 people attending. The speakers were as follows:

Damon Peterson
Port St. Joe, Florida

- Henry
Quincy, Florida

M.G. Miles
F.A.M.U.

Dan Speed
Tallahassee, Florida

C.K. Steele
Tallahassee, Florida

The meeting started at 8:00 P.M. People attended were required to register at the door. Collections were also taken as you entered the door. Total collections were $216.00.

Damon Peterson's subject was to "stick to what you are doing and don't change", also to continue to operate pool cars and solicit more money for their operations, and that he expected some of the people to ride the bus but that he was going to discourage it as much as possible by keeping the pool cars in operation.

Henry, who lives and runs a store in Quincy stated that if the people would pull together it would be successful, and called a closed meeting of the members of the Masons after the congregation was dismissed.

M.G. Miles stated that he did not want a student at the A.& M. University to be caught riding the bus and if they did ride the bus other accidents might happen and he stated that he would personally try to see that they had transportation wherever they want to go; also gave an encouraging talk to the congregation "not to ride the buses at all."

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Speed stated that the pool cars would continue to operate even if he had to start asking the riders to pay regular bus fare, and that he had several talks with the white people but told them only what he wanted them to know. He also stated that his policy now was and it was going to continue to be; not to let your left hand know what your right hand was doing.

Speed and the rest of the speakers stated that if anyone in the congregation could not keep the subjects of these meetings a secret to please leave the Church, and that it was not anybody's business on the outside to know what was going on inside.

Several people from the congregation got up and encouraged the people in the audience not to ride the bus and a few got up and said they were going to ride and were told that they did not have any business at the meeting.

It is the opinion of this informant that there will be quite a few people who are going to ride the bus.

Steele's talk was very short but encouraging car pool to continue operations as usual.

Informant states that Damon Peterson gave $50.00 to the organization, 7-31-56.

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MEMORANDUM REPORT ON NEGRO MASS MEETING HELD WEDNESDAY NIGHT, AUGUST 1, 1956, AT FOUNTAIN CHAPEL CHURCH, LOCATED AT THE CORNER OF EUGENIA AND DISTON STREETS, TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA.

The meeting was called to order around 8:00 P.M.

The main speakers and their subjects were as follows:

Rev. C.K. Steele

Dr. M.C. Williams

M.G. Miles

Daymon Peterson

Rev. David H. Brooks

Dan Speed

Rev. C.K. Steele gave a "Pep Talk" to the members of the Inter-Civic Council on the handling of the Bus Boycott in Tallahassee and referred to the success of the Montgomery, Alabama Improvement Association and to M.L. King who is their leader. Rev. Steele also encouraged the continuance of the Boycott on the grounds that it would lead to more and better things for the colored people and indicated that outside help would soon be here, but he did not name any specific thing. However, he did ask that all members of the Executive Board remain a few minutes after the meeting was over.

Dr. M.C. Williams gave a short talk on the continuance of pool car operations and expressed his desire to purchase Station Wagons for the purpose and stated that he had been assisting in the hauling of passengers and intended to continue to do so.

M.G. Miles made his talk on the support of the local people as far as financial responsibility and asked for more donations of larger amounts; also expressed his desire to get faculty members of the Florida A. & M. University to support the local situation one hundred percent, and stated that he had information that someone was trying to get him fired from his job, and if this happened he would continue to stay here and make his living in a different manner. (Unknown)

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Daymon Peterson, the Negro from Port St. Joe, Florida, pledged donations from that area if the Tallahassee Negroes would continue the Bus Boycott and not agree on anything at this time. He also stated that he would assist in helping get transportation for the Tallahassee area and stated that if the local dealers would not sell the organization Wagons that he knew where he could buy some.

Rev. David H. Brooks talked about the bus starting to run August 2, 1956, and asked the people before riding the buses to consider the possibility of destroying everything that had already been accomplished.

Dan Speed gave a Summary of the Pool Car Operations and asked for more cars and drivers to come forward and help and that gas would be furnished for all cars, and also to give as much money as possible for the operations because it was very expensive to operate.

Other points mentioned were the different Negroes who dodged the Civic organizations to solicit more money.

The usual collection was made as persons entered the door.

Total donations at this meeting was a little over six hundred dollars ($600.00).

Indications were that some out-of-town speakers would speak at the next meeting and be sure to come and bring everyone they could with them.

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A MEMORANDUM REPORT ON CITY TRANSIT OPERATIONS SINCE AUGUST 3, 1956, ON A. & M. AND FRENCHTOWN RUNS, TO AUGUST 12, 1956.

August 3 $32.00 214

August 4 $63.00 420

August 5 $22.00 147

August 6 $54.00 360

August 7 $35.00 234

August 8 $33.00 223

August 9 $40.00 207

August 10 $55.00 367

August 11 $85.00 567

August 12 $22.00 147

The above figures are figuring at fifteen cents per rider although some twelve and one-half cent tickets were taken in.

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MEMORANDUM REPORT OF NEGRO MASS MEETING HELD WEDNESDAY NIGHT, AUGUST 8, 1956, 8:00 P.M., AT CHURCH LOCATED AT 224 NORTH BOULEVARD STREET, TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA.

The meeting was called for to order around 8:30 P.M. with Rev. C.K. Steele being the Master of Ceremonies. The main speakers and their subjects were as follows:

Rev. C.K. Steele, being first speaker, stated that he was disappointed with the people for not fully co-operating in the Bus Boycott; that some of the people were riding the bus and that some were wanting to ride the bus. He also promised more cars to the Car Pool beginning Thursday, August 9, 1956, and also stated that arrangements had been made with some of the taxicabs to transport people. He also stated that just as soon as the people started riding the buses, the colored drivers would be fired and white drivers would replace them; that the Negro race now had a chance at full integration but would throw it away if they were not careful. Rev. Steele also held prayer for the white people who were so crazy that they could not see that segregation was what the Lord wanted but wanted everybody to join hands in brotherhood. He also gave Safety Talk the drivers of the Pool Cars as to the violation of laws and stated if anyone of the drivers were arrested to not resist arrest but to submit and call either Rollins of Miles and cash bond would be posted.

Damon Peterson, the Negro from Port St. Joe, Florida, talked on the Transportation subject and encouraged the Negroes to continue riding and stated if more cars were needed that he could make some arrangements. Peterson also asked Dan Speed for a Report on the Transportation. Speed's report was that he was having a hard time of keeping safe cars and that the officials were continuously question him

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about the operations and his recommendations were for the people to start riding the bus. Speed also stated that it was becoming very difficult to obtain drivers for the Pool Cars, and that his personal business was being jeopardized because some of the wholesale houses had discontinued calling on him. Peterson then stated the Speed wanted to wear two faces under the same hat because he was asking the people to go back to riding the buses. Peterson then recommended that the Council elect a new Transportation Chairman to replace Dan Speed, and it was agreed that the Council would meet and discuss same.

Charles Henry, Quincy Negro, gave a short talk due to ill health, encouraged the continuance of the Boycott and told all Mason Brothers to stay away from the buses and to continue doing what was agreed upon.

M.G. Miles talked on Transportation and the continuance of Boycott; also said that for a F.A.M.U. student to ride the bus was a disgrace to the school; that transportation would be furnished any student to go where he or she desired to go, and stated that they would give a financial report at the next meeting and he also gave a list of the heavy donators.

A Negro by the name of Smith, who is a new comer gave a short talk and backed up Miles talk to the extent of continuing the Bus Boycott and continue operating the Pool cars. The same procedure of collections were made at the door with $467.00 being the total collected from the 200 attending.

A white woman made a speech but would not give name of place where she was from but admitted being a member of the N.A.A.C.P.

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MEMORANDUM REPORT ON NEGRO MASS MEETING HELD SUNDAY NIGHT AUGUST 12, 1956, AT BETHEL A.M.E. CHURCH LOCATED AT THE CORNER OF VIRGINIA AND DUVAL STREETS, TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA WITH M.G. MILES ACTING AS MASTER OF CEREMONIES.

The Main speakers are listed as follows:

M.G. MILES

Rev. Rolllins

Dr. M.C. Williams

Collins (A Negro from Quincy)

Clarence Golden

Henry Gaines

M.G. Miles being first speaker gave a financial report on the money he had on hand as Assistant Secretary for the Inter-Civic Council, which was $1,721.81. Miles also stated that outside donations were continuing to grow; that more vehicles were being provided for the car pool operations. Miles also stated that he was disappointed in some of the Negro people riding the bus, but realized that some were going to listen to the white people with whom they worked, but felt like the ones riding the bus should realize that the Inter-Civic Council was fighting for the interest of all the Negro race, to give them the place in life they belonged to have. Miles also stated the people were getting slack on giving donations to the Inter-Civic Council and seem to be parasites by depending on the donations of others.

Rollins speech was on the lack of donations to the organization but stated the Council was in very good financial condition at the present time and as Secretary-Treasurer to the Inter-Civic Council would give a complete financial report on Wednesday night, August 15, 1956, and that some new officers would be elected at that time (but did not elaborate) Rollins also stated that he could not understand some of the Negro people promising to do one thing and then doing another as quite a few had promised not to ride the bus but had been seen riding.

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Dr. M.C. Williams donated $50.00 at this meeting and stated if the reason that the people were riding the bus was for lack of transportation in the car pool operations, he would match any individual donation given for that purpose. Williams also stated the the white lady (no name given) who had previously given talks at the meetings (July 29 and August 8, 1956) would be back again on Wednesday night, August 15, 1956 to give another talk. Williams stated that he felt the talks given by this woman, who is a member of the NAACP was of great benefit to the Negro people and wanted the congregation on Wednesday night August 15, 1956 to show their appreciation by giving her a substantial donation for the trouble and expense she has concurred in coming to Tallahassee and making these talks. Williams also asked the congregation not to get slack, to uphold and keep the organization going that now was the time for the Negro people to get what rightfully belong to them.

Collins' a Negro from Quincy, Florida donated $15.00 and gave $20.00 that was sent to the meeting by him from Charles Henry, who Collins stated, was ill and unable to attend. Collins stated that this was his third meeting; that he operated a business in Quincy and was unable to get away at just anytime (such business believed to be a pool room) but expressed his regrets and stated he would be here on Wednesday night August 15, with donations from his friends to help keep things moving, as he felt this was for a very good cause. Collins stated that in talking to several people in Tallahassee he found some were afraid to ride the pool cars because the Police might arrest them. He then stated that it was his understanding that plenty of money was available to post cash bonds and to pay expenses to anyone being arrested while riding a pool car and that his recommendation on an Inter-Civic Council slogan was "Together We Stand and Divided We Fall."

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Clarence Golden's speech was that he thought a penalty should be put on the Negro people who rode the bus, that the Inter-Civic Council was spending good money to provide transportation and anyone riding the bus should be penalized; that the Negro people would never get anywhere if they did not stick together. When Golden was asked what kind of penalty he thought should be put on anyone riding the bus, his reply was that some had already been penalized and it was his recommendation to give the same penalty to all. (Some - three - have been beaten) Golden was open congratulated by Miles, Steele and Collins.

Gaines, a Negro who is or was connected with a Taxi Company stated that if enough people pool cars could not be made available, he could make arrangements with some of the taxis to transport the people for the Inter-Civic Council. Gaines stated that he would would continue his regular donations (unknown) and would try to do more in the near future.

Damon Peterson, the Negro from Port St. Joe, Florida was unable to attend this meeting due to the death of relatives in Panama City.

(Total attendance 178, total donations $219.40)

John Mills, a Negro from Wakulla County, sent a $10.00 donation.

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MEMORANDUM REPORT OF NEGRO MASS MEETING, WEDNESDAY NIGHT, AUGUST 15, 1956, HELD AT BETHEL BAPTIST CHURCH LOCATED ON THE CORNER OF DUNN AND DADE STREETS, TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA, WITH M.G. MILES AS MASTER OF CEREMONIES.

The following are the names of the main speakers:

Rev. C.K. Steele

M.G. Miles

Rev. Divella Crawford

Rev. K.S. Dupont

Rev. J. Metz Rollins

Damon Peterson

John Mills

Rev. C.K. Steele spoke on transportation and riders. He stated that he was very disappointed in the people of the community for riding the buses like they were and it looked like by the end of the year all the local people would be back riding the bus. he said that in a four week period of time the Inter-Civic Council would own at least six station wagons to assist in the pool car operations and he felt that would be enough to carry the people any place they wanted to go, also the people need not be afraid to ride the pool cars or the station wagons for the police were not going to bother them and if they did there was plenty of money to take care of any ride because everything that had been worked for would be lost if the boycott did not continue.

M.G. Miles talked on donations to the organization coming in from outside sources and named the following: New York, Bethune College, Tuskegee Institute and several Masonic lodges. Also said the reason the white woman could not come on this date was because of a meeting in Miami and she was scheduled to make a talk in Alabama the next day but would be back to talk to them in the next week or two. (No name or residence given.) Miles stated the organization bought a second-hand station wagon Tuesday August 14, 1956 to put on the pool car run and paid $1,900.00 cash for it and another would be bought this week.

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Rev. Divella Crawford stated his car had been in operation several weeks as a pool car and he understood he had been reported for charging people, (this has been verified as positive) but he was not and did not into to, that he was receiving compensation for his expenses from the organization and was drawing a government check along with his church donations and did not need to make charges. (Miles got up and stated at this time that no car in the pool was supposed to solicit or ask for a charge anything from the riders and if they did and got caught he would be on his own.)

Rev. K.S. Dupont took the floor to speak but due to his impairment of speech the informer was unable to understand anything he said and he was asked by the congregation to sit down. He donated $20.00

Rev. J. Metz Rollins as Secretary to the organization gave his financial report and stated after all expenses, the total balance in the treasury was $2,900.00. Donations from the attendance on this particular night were $210.00 other than the donations that were sent in from other places and organizations. Rollins stated Charles Henry, from Quincy, had sent $15.00 and the Negro by the names of Gilliam to act as Secretary during Rollins time away from Tallahassee as he is going to be out for a few days.

Damon Peterson, the Negro from Port St. Joe, Florida brought in a $100.00 donation from Port St. Joe and told the meeting he could get two station wagons from a motor company in Port St. Joe if the organization wanted them. He said that if they did he would bring one over next Wednesday night when he came to the meeting but that he felt the people locally were not donating their share of money and some of them were carrying messages from the meetings to the white people. Also suggested to have one person responsible for all cash and not to deposit any money in the banks, then there would be no records that could be checked.

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John Mills, a Negro from Wakulla County who deals in used cars at Buckhorne, told the congregation that he had a station wagon on hand that had been offered to the Council at a low price and they had refused to buy it because they thought it was not good enough; but he could get a 1955 Chevrolet station wagon from a dealer in Apalachicola and let them have it at cost. He donated $10.00 and stated he had given considerable donations in the past.

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MEMORANDUM REPORT OF NEGRO MASS MEETING SUNDAY, AUGUST 19, 1956, HELD AT THE BETHEL A.M.E. CHURCH LOCATED AT THE CORNER OF VIRGINIA AND DUVAL STREETS, TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA WITH M.G. MILES ACTING AS MASTER OF CEREMONIES.

The following were the speakers at the above mentioned meeting:

M.G. Miles

Perkins

Rev. C.K. Steele

Rev. J. Metz Rollins

Damon Peterson

M.G. Miles spoke on transportation and the handling of same. Miles stated that he was not satisfied with the way Dan Speed was handling the transportation situation that it looked like to him that speed wanted to colored people to go riding the bus and he thought the Negro people should consider this an insult. Also, Speed was getting paid for what he was doing and should as a business man be able to run the pool cars without too much trouble if he was the kind of man he is supposed to be. That he understood Speed was going around asking people to go back to riding the bus but he, Miles, had only one comment to make on the people continuing to ride the bus, that there might be a tragedy and one person or persons could be held responsible and that he felt just as soon as the Negro people started riding the bus the colored drivers would be fired and white drivers would replace them. Miles also stated it was his information that the colored drivers who were driving city buses were selected as to their ability as pimps and as long as these drivers attend the mass meetings or talked to anyone who did, then the Police might just as well be extended an open invitation to attend the mass meetings. (Dan Speed was not present but sent $5.00.)

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Perkins, a Negro who is believed to be an official or faculty member of the Griffin Jr. High School, stated that he noticed the attendance at the mass meetings was steadily falling off as were the donations. He felt like this was because the people want to ride the buses but are afraid or did not want some of the colored people to see them due to embarrassment, but Perkins stated that his idea was not to force anybody against his own judgement, that if they wanted to ride the bus, he felt they should be able to do so without fear of bodily harm or being insulted. Perkins stated that he would like to see the Negro people take advantage of this opportunity to forward themselves but he would not advise anyone against his or her better judgement and that he was donating $10.00, not for himself or his wife, because they had lived their lives, but the donation was for the benefit of the Negro people. (Objections were very loud when Perkins stated that he felt the people who wanted to ride the buses should be allowed that privilege without insult or harm. M.G. Miles stated at this point that he would appreciate it if the congregation would disregard that part of Perkins' talk.)

Rev. C.K. Steele reprimanded Perkins for making statements like the above and told the congregation to disregard these types of statements if they were interested in ever moving up the ladder toward complete integration. Steele told the people to continue riding the pool cars and station wagons and that all drivers would signal any pedestrian to go to a certain point for pickup if the pedestrian was at the wrong place. Also, stated that the congregation would be expected to raise at least $500.00 next meeting night, so the ones who could not be there be sure and send a donation and solicit donations from others. Steele stated that total donations from the audience of this meeting was only $242.00 but had received a total of $1,500.00 from other states and organizations. (Did not name states or organizations.)

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Rev. J. Metz Rollins talked on the operations of the Secretary's responsibility and records. Rollins stated that he was strongly in favor of the Inter-Civic Council allowing him or anyone who handles the people's money to set up a file of permanent records and every so often give a report at the meetings of same by calling the name of the donators and the amount of the donations. This way he felt the people would be able to determine what was being done and who was donating; that by a person hearing his or her name called would then know the money was being put in the treasury and not in somebody's pocket. He did not want the people to think he was taking a cent of their money. (Miles objected to this type of report and record and stated no permanent records should be kept of anything.) (The congregation spoke and asked Rollins to set up the above mentioned records as they would like to know just what was being done with the money that is being donated.)

Damon Peterson, the Negro from Port St. Joe brought in a $100.00 donation from Port St. Joe, Florida and stated he would try to double this donation next Wednesday night. Peterson also talked on the continuance of pool car operations and stated he could buy two station wagons from a dealer in Port St. Joe that he thought the Council should own at least six station wagons and should try to have them by the time school starts. Peterson also stated that he was aware of the fact that special license plates would have to be obtained but that could be arranged but not to buy them until they were forced to do so.

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MEMORANDUM REPORT ON NEGRO MASS MEETING, WEDNESDAY NIGHT, AUGUST 22, 1956, HELD AT BETHEL A.M.E. BAPTIST CHURCH, LOCATED ON THE CORNER OF VIRGINIA AND DUVAL STREETS, TALLAHASSEE FLORIDA, WITH M.G. MILES ACTING AS MASTER OF CEREMONIES.

The following persons were the main speakers at the above meeting:

Rev. A.L. Bennett

Rev. K.S. Dupont

Rev. C.K. Steele

Damon Peterson

M.G. Miles

J.A. or J.H. Miles (Quincy, Fla.)

Perkins (Griffin High School)

Clarence Gilliam

Rev. A.L. Bennett spoke on the arrests of the pool car operators and that he felt it was a trumped up charge and wouldn't hold up in the Courts. Bennett advised the pool car riders not to stand at the bus stops to catch a ride on a car for this was a violation of the law as well as for the pool car driver who picked up anyone at a bus stop. He stated that pickup points had been established for the drivers to pick-up from and if the riders did not know where they were to ask. Bennett stated that more transportation was being made available every day and that more money was coming in for the operation than ever before. If any operators were arrested, financial arrangements would be made for his or her bond immediately. Also, he knew some of the people were running to the white people and telling everything that was going on, but he did not consider that any of the white people's business and would advise it to stop immediately. So if the Negro people stuck together and the money kept coming everything was going to be all right.

Rev. K.S. Dupont (arrested 8-22-56 as pool car operator) said he though the white people were trying to see

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how dirty they could be; that the arrests that were being made only to hurt them financially and to harass and embarrass the people so they would not ride or drive the pool cars; but to not become discouraged because the organization was well financed and would continue operations. Dupont reprimanded Perkins very strongly for telling the people to ride the bus if they wanted to and stated that he would appreciate it very much if Perkins did not attend another meeting. Informer states at this point, Dupont became very radical, so much so that his speech impairment was so bad he could not be understood and was asked to sit down.

Damon Peterson (Port St. Joe, Florida) talked on the purchasing of more station wagons immediately for the organization's operations. He advised the people of two he could buy for them to use. Also, to keep the donations coming in, that the money was going to be needed very badly. Also, he would being in another substantial sum from Port St. Joe next week. ($220.00 was brought in this week. Peterson personally gave $100.00) Peterson asked the people to stay off the buses, donate more money and not to let the white people know your business - stick together.

Rev. C.K. Steele told the people he realized some of he congregation were riding the bus, but they were only fools and he would appreciate it if they would not come to another meeting; that they were not making any donations and not helping the organization in any respect and he hoped the white people were satisfied because of the few arrests they had made would certainly not stop anything but made everything more determined in getting the Negro people complete integration and for the pool car drivers or riders not to be afraid for he would be available and ready to post any amount of bond necessary for their release in the event they were picked up.

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M.G. Miles asked for money to send him to a National Convention in Tennessee. (Church gave him $300.00 and the Inter-Civic Council gave $150.00) He stated that by him being sent he could promise more support after his return, for he was going to really tell the people at the convention something. Miles also stated that he felt the organization should buy two more station wagons by September 1, and that he felt a complete report on all council business should be given next Wednesday night because he felt their attendance would be greater than ever before. Miles also stated that K.S. Dupont's wife had been appointed temporary Secretary until Rollin's returned. (Believes she is a maid at the Lewis State bank) Miles left for Tennessee after the meeting.

J.A. or J.H. Collins (Negro from Quincy) brought a donation from Quincy of $155.00 also gave $50.00 personally and $50.00 from Charles Henry, who he stated is still sick. Collins talked on the financial standings of the Inter-Civic Council and stated he felt more money has been donated than could be accounted for, that something was wrong and would not be corrected unless some permanent records were established and if the officers who were supposed to be looking after the money could not do this, then they should elect new ones and that a great number of people had begun to ask what was becoming of their money and if they did not get a correct report their donations would be discontinued. (At this point Miles jumped up and stated that he thought Collins just wanted to be the leader of the organization and for the people not to listen to him.) Collins stated this was not true, that he did not want to be an officer of the organization at all, but felt like the people should know what was being done with their money because the reports did not indicate the amount was increasing and it was not being spent on the pool car operations.

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Perkins talked and backed Collins up in his statements and also stated that in order for his money to continue he wanted to know where it was going and if some kind of permanent record was not set up then his donations would be discontinued and also advised the congregation to do the same. Also he felt some of the people were already sorry they had ever attended the first meeting and was sure others were beginning to feel the same way. (This speech brought remarks from Steele, Miles, and Bennette.)

Clarence Gilliam, a Negro taxi driver, stated he felt the colored drivers who were driving the buses now were not the right kind of men and should be fired; that they were pimping for the white people; but he felt he would be an advantage to the organization if they could help him get a driver's job. (At this point he was asked to sit down.)

John Mills, Negro from Wakulla County who was trying to sell the organization a 1952 Ford station wagon got mad when the organization would not buy from him and got up and walked out stating he was through with this damned thing.

The following is a financial and attendance report on mass meeting held Wednesday night, August 22, 1956.

Informer's registration number being 297, estimates around 400 attendance.

Organization and out of town donations as follows:

Port St. Joe, Florida $ 220.00

Quincy, Florida 155.00

Tuskeegee Institute and Alabama State at Birmingham 500.00

Virginia State College 555.00

TOTAL $1,430.00

Donations from congregation $1,038.00

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Individual donations as follows:

Rev. A.L. Bennett $150.00

J.R.D. Laster 100.00

Damon Peterson 100.00

Collins (Quincy) 50.00

Charles Henry (Quincy) 50.00

M.G. Miles 25.00

John Mills (Wakulla County) 20.00

Perkins 5.00

Rev. K.S. Dupont 25.00

TOTAL $525.00

TOTAL ALL DONATIONS $2,993.00

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MEMORANDUM REPORT ON NEGRO MASS MEETING, SUNDAY NIGHT, AUGUST 26, 1956, HELD AT BAPTIST CHURCH LOCATED AT 224 NORTH BOULEVARD STREET, TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA WITH REV. C.K. STEELE ACTING AS MASTER OF CEREMONIES.

The following persons were the main speakers at the above meeting.

Rev. Hobbs preached the regular Sunday night sermon but did not elaborate on the local Negro situation very much. All he said was for the Negro people to stay within the law and not get mad or commit any violence toward anyone.

Rev. C.K. Steele spoke about the white people being unjust to the colored race and not wanting them to have anything to raise their standards of living and participation in local affairs as any citizen should be able to do regardless of race, creed, or color. Also said the arrests that were being made were unfair and unjust but for the drivers not to get angry or mad for this would give the police the opportunity for which they were looking. Steele said he had the sufficient financial backing to continue his work regardless of cost and that he did not intend to stop until he had obtained complete integration for the Negro people in this area. Steele asked for more donations and stated that the money which was being raised was being taken by the Police for bonds (false) so the local people would have to try to increase their donations. He said for the colored people to stay off the buses, attend the meetings and make more donations. He asked everyone to be sure and attend the meetings and make more donations. He asked everyone to be sure and attend the meeting Wednesday night, August 29, 1956 for Rev. Miles and Rev. Rollins would be back from Chattanooga, Tennessee, where they had been to attend a national convention and would give the people a report on their success at the convention for national support, also a financial report of the organization as of now. Steele

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also stated the white people knew what he was doing was the right thing but were too stubborn to admit it, so for no one to be afraid to stand up and speak his piece to any white person because it was his or her right.

K.S. Dupont pleaded with the people not to ride the buses and stated openly that he would die and go to Hell before he would ride the bus after the Police arrested him. Also stated if the Negroes would stick together they had the white people whipped, that all the whites wanted was the colored people's money.

Damon Peterson, the Negro from Port St. Joe, Florida brought in a $1,000.00 donation from the St. Joe area and stated only $900.00 had been raised but he had put in $100.00 personally to make it an even $1,000.00. Peterson stated he was disappointed to see any of the Negro people riding the bus but was sure it would soon be better. Peterson said that the only hate he has was for the Negro people who obeyed the wish and command of a white person; that he did not blame the white person but the Negro was the one to blame for not sticking to his rights.

Charles Henry, the Negro from Quincy, Florida, stated due to his illness he had been unable to unable to attend the last few meetings. Also stated some people were trying to make a little trouble for him. (Unofficial reports are he is being sued by the Masons for $50,000.00 of their money which Henry has misused.) Henry asked the people not to ride the bus and to keep the white people out of their business.

Collins, a Negro from Quincy, Florida, talk was very short. It only expressed his thanks to the people for not riding the buses and stated on occasions when he was in Tallahassee he rode some of them himself. Collins and Henry both left after Collins' talk but they would be present at the next meeting.

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Rev. A.L. Bennett stated he had money to assist anyone as long as they would not ride the buses and that the thing which was worrying the white people most was not being able to find out where the organization was getting its money for if they found out the white people would be trying to either stop it or take it away from them. But as long as no one talked to the white people about what was going on at the meetings, they would never know. Bennett also stated for everyone to come out Wednesday night because the mass meeting would also be a business meeting and he felt that if as many people would come as could then the Negro people would realize it was for their benefit to attend and donate to the Inter-Civic Council all they possibly could. Also asked that each and every person keep his mouth closed as to what was going on and being said at these meetings.

J.R.D. Laster stated although he had not been attending the meetings regularly he had been sending his donations and was proud of what was being done. He stated he would suggest to the people to demand a record to show what was being done with the money which was being donated; that although he thought the organization was doing a good thing he felt like some of the money was being misused and that if a permanent record was not established he would discontinue his donations and would stop others; also would not attend any more meetings. Laster stated he felt the organization was wrong in trying to persuade the people not to ride the bus, because it was the transportation available to a lot of colored people and for them not to ride the bus was a great hardship and that he felt the decision should be left entirely up to the individual. (At this point there were many jeers from the crowd and Laster sat down.)

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Attendance at the meeting around 500.

Donations from local attendance $700.00

Donations from Quincy 100.00

Alabama State 300.00

Virginia State 500.00

Port St. Joe, Florida 1,000.00

TOTAL $2,600.00

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MEMORANDUM REPORT OF NEGRO MASS MEETING HELD AT NEGRO BAPTIST CHURCH ON RICHMOND STREET, WEDNESDAY NIGHT, AUGUST 29, 1956, TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA WITH REV. C.K. STEELE AS MASTER OF CEREMONIES.

The following are the names of the main speakers.

Rev. C.K. Steele

Damon Peterson

Rev. A.L. Bennett

J.R.D. Laster

W.R. Perkins

Clarence Gilliam

M.G. Miles

Charles Henry

Rev. C.K. Steele spoke on the arrests of the pool car drivers and stated that it appeared the police were trying to make the arrests because of getting the money for bonds but so far none had been posted. Steele stated he had been arrested four times and he considered the Police Department as an organized bunch of thieves who did not know what they were doing and the Police were trying to make a living off the colored people. Also that he believed if the pool car drivers would refuse to post bond that the police would not put them in jail, but would only threaten to in order to scare them, so they would not drive anymore. Steele stated the meetings would be held at different churches each time. This would be done to prevent the white people from installing speakers and finding out what was going on in the meetings. So if the Negro people would keep their mouths shut and not talk about the meetings no one would know.

Damon Peterson (Port St.Joe Negro) brought a new Pontiac station wagon from Port St. Joe, Florida and the Inter-Civic Council agreed to buy it for $3,200.00. Peterson told the congregation not to let the Police catch the station wagon picking up passengers on the bus stops or the people would not sell them another one. Also stated not to tell anyone where it came from or what was being paid for it. Because if they did the pressure could be put on the motor

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company that sold it and the organization would not be able to buy another one from them. Peterson said the reason the colored people would never have anything was when they earned their money and got paid they would turn around and give it back to the white folks. Peterson also stated as long as the colored people let the whites know about their business the long it would take to get what they were after. Also stated that it was his wish that all the women who were working as maid to try to find something else so they would not have to wait on the white people.

Rev. A.L. Bennett stated that the money that was being donated to the Inter-Civic Council was definitely being used for something other than what it is being donated for and if things did not change right away he would discontinue his association with the organization. Bennett stated that indications were that M.G. Miles was the man who was misusing the money and he would suggest that the organization elect Charles Henry (the Negro from Quincy) to fill M.G. Miles place as Rollins' Assistant right away. Bennett stated that he knew some of the people who were attending the meetings were making donations to the Inter-Civic Council when they actually did not have enough food in their house for breakfast the next morning and suggested for the people to give only what they were able to give and not listen to the begging for more donations all the time, that the organization was getting enough money to operate on without taking it away from those who would have to do without food in order to give. Bennett stated it was a shame some of the colored people were attending the meetings to find out what was going on and report it back to the white people and said he bet he could go to either Mr. Stoutamire, Mr. Strickland, or Mr. Sims and find out what had been said at every meeting.

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Also suggested that the colored people spend all their money possible with their own race and not give the white people anything. Bennett brought Dr. A.O. Campbell to the meeting with him.

J.R.D. Laster stated this was his last meeting; that he was not going to attend anymore, because the organization did not know what they were doing and some of the people who were running it were not the right kind of people. Laster stated he knew how much money had been raised at the National Baptist Convention in Chattanooga, Tennessee for the Tallahassee Inter-Civic Council and what M.G. Miles turned in was $700.00 short of what had been raised. Laster stated that $800.00 had been raised and M.G. Miles had only turned in $100.00 and suggested the council not to accept that. Laster told Miles that he was "too old a cat to be called a kitten" and he, Miles, should know it and that he was donating $25.00 to the organization tonight not for himself or for Miles' pocket either but to help the people who could not afford to donate. Laster stated that he he knew how much money Miles was supposed to be bringing back to Tallahassee for the Inter-Civic Council before Miles ever left Chattanooga to come back to Tallahassee. Laster told the congregation if anyone needed transportation to come see him at his place but not to come if it was not actually needed, because he was not putting another cent into the Inter-Civic Council or Miles' pocket either. (Miles was crying and Laster told him to cry all you want to but don't let any of your tears drop on me.)

W.R. Perkins mostly commented on Laster's talk and stated he had known M.G. Miles a long time but did not know he was a crook although he had heard several things. Perkins also stated he wished the people would go back to riding the bus, for some of them were going hungry and naked

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in order to come to these meetings and give their money away. That he had observed one woman give $5.00 and knew she was a widow with three children and she only made $15.00 per week salary. Also someday he was afraid some of the people were going to wish for a bus to ride on because the weather was going to be wet and cold, but if he passed anyone on the street he did not mind giving them a ride but wanted it clearly understood that his car was not a pool car now or ever be one or had ever been one. Perkins said he felt like it was time for the people to wake up because as long as no records were being kept, that they would continue being robbed by a bunch of thieves.

Clarence Gilliam stated if the organization would help him get a job as bus driver he thought he could be of benefit to them and would not pimp to the Police like the drivers they now had were doing. Stated that some of the Police had been questioning him about what was being said at the meetings but he had not told them a "damned thing," (asked the people the excuse the language) and would never tell anything to them or anybody else.

M.G. Miles (got up crying) stated that he did not want the people to think he was a thief, that if he was given $800.00 he must have lost it, but if they felt like he owed it he would borrow $700.00 Thursday morning and put the $100 with it and Rev. Steele the $800.00 by 9:00 Thursday morning. (Steele got up and stated would rather Miles would wait and turn the money in at the mass meeting Sunday night.) Miles then stated if the organization would let him by, it would never happen again and asked the congregation to please not get out and tell this for if they did it might cause him to lose his job on the campus. Miles also stated if they would let him by this time he would add a good donation Sunday night when he brought the $800.00.

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Charles Henry (Quincy Negro) stated the reason he had not been attending the meetings regularly lately was because of illness and that the Masonic Lodge had been trying to cause him a little trouble but he was not guilty (being sued for $50,000.00 shortages) and he did not want any of the people accusing him of being a thief like M.G. Miles. Henry stated he had been talking with several people and wanted to suggest that the people who were riding the pool cars not to stand on or near a bus stop while waiting to be picked up, stated if it became necessary to he could arrange for one car to be used in the car pool. Also suggested that if the drivers would keep their mouths shut to strangers who were riding the cars he felt like this would help eliminate the Police finding out so much.

Attendance at meeting around 200

Donations from Congregation $377.00

Organizations donations:

Sopchoppy Masonic Lodge 100.00

State of Michigan 500.00

State of Louisiana 215.00

Tuskeegee Institute 200.00

Individual's donations:

C.K. Steele 50.00

A.L. Bennett 50.00

A.O. Campbell 50.00

J. R. D. Laster 25.00

Charles Henry 50.00

Damon Peterson 100.00

J. Metz Rollins 25.00

John Mills (Sopchoppy) 5.00

M.G. Miles 10.00

Clarence Gilliam 2.00

&

TOTAL $1,759.00

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MEMORANDUM REPORT OF MASS MEETING ON SEPTEMBER 2, 1956 HELD AT BETHEL A.M.E. CHURCH LOCATED ON THE CORNER OF VIRGINIA AND DUVAL STREETS, TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA, WITH REV. C.K. STEELE ACTING AS MASTER OF CEREMONIES.

Speakers as follows:

C.K. Steele

L.R. Vaughn

J. Metz Rollins

M.G. Miles

Damon Peterson

Rev. Steele spoke about the Baptist Convention that was held in Chattanooga Tennessee and the advertisement the local representatives gave the local situation while attending the convention. Steele stated although M.G. Miles had been accused of taking money which was donated to the bus boycott operations here, at the National Convention, he felt like Miles should be allowed to remain a member of the Executive Council because he was repaying the $700.00 which he was accused of taking. Steele stated that Miles had denied taking money very strongly while having a private conversation with him. Steele also was inclined to believe Miles due to the fact that the people who had accused him had not offered any evidence of of any form to substantiate the accusation. Also the persons making the accusations had discontinued attending the meetings or having anything to do with them. Steele stated that maybe the accusation against Miles was influenced by the white people and were trying to set a trap and break up the Inter-Civic Council. Steele suggested that the riders of the car pool who were being picked up at Speed's Grocery to go to the corner of Diston and Eugenia Streets and wait for rides there as the Police were keeping Speed's Store under close observation. Although he felt it would only be a few hours before the police would know

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where the new pickup point was Steele stated that it was his opinion that the white people with whom the Council was trying to deal with was only a bunch of ignorant animals and that some of them had tried every way they could to get him to tell them what he was doing and what his future plans were but he had refused, therefore they were trying to make him lose face by arresting him all the time.

Rev. L.R. Vaughn, who is pastor of the Little St. Mary's Church and makes a salary of $175.00 per month stated that his church was making regular donations to the car pool but was not going to continue using it if Speed did not do what he promised (unknown) that so far he was not getting anything like had been promised him. Also his congregation was donating more to the car pool operations than to the church or him either and he did not think it was right. Vaughn said he was not up there to talk about the white people and said he thought the time had come for the colored people to go back to the buses, that if they did not he was afraid it would not be long before there would be no buses to ride; that he was not above riding a bus because it was much cheaper than using his car. Also stated he had ridden one on Sunday, August 26 and had been reprimanded very strongly for doing so by Rev. Steele.

J. Metz Rollins stated that it looked like some of the pastors did not want the organization to be a success or they would not ride the buses or would not tell the members of their churches to do so. Also advised the people to stay off the bus and he wanted every person who attended the meeting next Wednesday night to come prepared to donate at least $10.00. Also he had caught one of the members of the church rising the bus and felt like it should be done something with; that when she realized he

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saw her tried to hide so he would not recognize her but he had. But he did not want this to happen again with any member of his church. Rollins said his opinion of the local Police was very low because he considered them a bunch of dirty people; that a colored person could not drive down the street anymore without being molested one way or another. If nothing else they would stop you and make you produce driver's licenses and registrations for your car knowing all the time who the rightful owner is; and it was not a stolen car. But this was done just to embarrass and humiliate them. Rollins stated his church furnished him a car and a livable salary and so long as they did he was going to ride anybody in the car he want to and was going to spend his money as he saw fit; that his Church was behind him one hundred per cent.

M.G. Miles stated that although he had been accused falsely he replaced the $700.00 and would like for the congregation to forgive and those who did please stand. (About 100 stood out of about 300 attending) Miles stated he had a good job at the A. & M. University and did not have to steal and he could keep his job just as long as he wanted to work. Miles also said that more arrangements had to be made for more transportation vehicles because school would be starting soon at the College and the students would not be allowed to ride the buses if he had anything to do with their activities and he was sure he would have. Stated he did not want anything else to do with the money that was being donated to the Inter-Civic Council.

Damon Peterson (Negro from Port St. Joe) stated that Tallahassee was not his home town but he was interested in what was going on and would like to have the people come down to Port St. Joe and hold one mass meeting for his Church was interest and had donated a considerable amount from time to time. Stated his Church had about 300 members and he would guarantee $1,000.00 donations if a meeting was held at

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his Church. Peterson stated that if the people would not confine the meetings to Tallahassee along and meet out of town at other churches he felt that there would be more financial assistance given and also more people interested. (This was agreed to be discussed by committee.)

Rev. A.L. Bennett made a short talk and stated that he had been to the last five meetings and at each meeting a financial report would be promised at the next meeting but so far he had not heard one given and did not believe the Council or Rollins intended to give one. Bennett warned the people against being a bunch of suckers and stated he bet that Rollins could not show a small per cent of the money he should have on hand.

Attendance at meeting around 300

Donations: $815.00

Tuskeegee Institute 200.00

Bethune College (Daytona Beach) 200.00

Negro Masons, State of Kentucky 215.00

TOTAL $1,430.00

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THE INFORMATION HEREIN IS TO BE CONSIDERED MOST CONFIDENTIAL AND IS NOT TO BE RELEASED WITHOUT THE AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OFFICIALS OF THE CITY OF TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA OR CHIEF OF POLICE FRANK STOUTAMIRE

Source

State Archives of Florida: Series S776, Box 33, Folder 3

Description

Minutes of a series of 10 meetings held at various African American churches by the Inter-Civic Council of Tallahassee to administrate a boycott of the city's segregated bus service. The minutes appear to have been collected by an informant who was giving the information to Tallahassee city officials. The cover of the document calls the material confidential and prohibits its distribution without permission from city officials or Chief of Police Frank Stoutamire. The minutes for each meeting describe the meeting attendees, amounts raised for alternative transportation, and the subjects discussed.