[Marxism] Rev. James Bevel Dies Noted Civil Rights Activist
davidrail68 at yahoo.com
Fri Dec 26 16:38:44 MST 2008
By Dorothy Rowley
AFRO Staff Writer
(December 23, 2008) - The Rev. James L. Bevel, who served as a top lieutenant to Martin Luther King Jr. before helping to organize the 1995 Million Man March on Washington, has died. He was 72.
At the time of his death in Springfield, Va., on Dec. 19 from pancreatic cancer, Bevel’s legacy had become clouded by a conviction this past spring for having sex 10 years ago with one of his then-teenage daughters. He had been living in Northern Virginia when the crime occurred.
According to the Associated Press, the four-day trial divided members of Bevel's large family, with relatives testifying for both the prosecutor and defense. He was sentenced in October to 15 years in prison and had served time prior to being released in November on bond while the case was on appeal.
At the time of his release doctors said he had only a few months to live.
In the 1960s, Bevel was a leader in both the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, two of the most tenacious organizations that led efforts to desegregate the South.
As a key figure in civil rights marches in Selma, Ala., Bevel had also been the architect of the 1963 Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, Ala.
His fight to desegregate downtown Birmingham stores prompted police to respond with fire hoses and attack dogs against peaceful protesters. The Baptist preacher had also rallied young people in the city to get involved in civil rights demonstrations — something King and other advisers objected to.
Bevel was also active in the anti-war movement and greatly influenced King, whom Bevel encouraged to confront the Vietnam War more directly.
After King's assassination in 1968, Bevel helped lead many of King's unfinished efforts, such as a demonstration to support striking sanitation workers in Memphis.
But in the decades following King’s death some of Bevel’s critics began to note a change in his behavior, saying he’d taken on an erratic demeanor, such as in 1992 when he was vice presidential running mate to political extremist Lyndon LaRouche. At the time, LaRouche was in federal prison for a tax conviction.
Born to sharecroppers on Oct. 19, 1936, in Itta Bena, Miss., Bevel was one of 17 children. He had stints in the Navy and graduated in 1961 from Nashville's American Baptist Theological Seminary.
Married four times, he reportedly fathered 16 children with nine women.
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