Recognition from the City of Shreveport

In 2013, the North Louisiana Civil Rights Coalition sponsored a week-long celebration and series of educational events. Following that citywide initiative, the Honorable Cedric Glover, Mayor of Shreveport, addressed the City Council and he said of Dr. Simpkins:

“As mentioned this past week was the 50th Anniversary of the exact date that the Dr. Rev. Harry Blake was assaulted at the Little Union Baptist Church. At that particular event, I guess represents probably the greatest image of the Civil Rights struggle here in the City of Shreveport as many over the years have seen that picture of him laid down by the blows that were landed on that day, but that was an event that was surrounded by a series of efforts throughout the course of 1963. But even more importantly in the years that came before that, much of that work was led by the man that you heard Councilman [Joe] Shyne refer to and those of us here in this room who know anything about the history of Shreveport know in many respects, started, fathered, initiated by one Dr. C. O. Simpkins…

“Dr. Simpkins, as you know that year started off with the Spring assassination of your good friend, Medgar Evers, struck down outside of his home, there in Jackson, MS, that ended up being infused with George Wallace standing in the school house door literally there in Alabama. It also ended up with a crescendo of violence on the 16th of September in Birmingham, AL, at the 16th Baptist Church where four little girls ended up being killed, five were injured and a world was rocked by the level and depth of violence. We all listened in August of that year ... as Dr. King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and issued a call for action that moved the country…

“But Dr. Simpkins, you are the initiator of so much of what helped to make Shreveport a better place, but more than that, an initiator of so much of what helped to make America a better place. As it was pointed out this past Sunday, not only were you present for historic moments here in Shreveport, but you were there in the 1950s down in New Orleans at the New Zion Baptist Church, when the NAACP had been outlawed in Louisiana and in so many other places for the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. There was another young man who was there with you by the name of Martin King, and some other young folks by the name of Ralph Abernathy, and Andrew Young, and others, and that group ended up being one of the other that helped to move a country toward a fulfillment of that dream of all of us being valued and respected as individuals. Not based on skin color, not based on class, but based on the fact that we are creations of the all mighty. And so I want to say thank you on behalf of this city. ...

“And on this past Sunday, presented a bugle to Dr. Blake, presented by the Shreveport Fire Department. That bugle symbolizes the leader who issues the clarion call to others to come, to pay attention, to get involved, to get engaged in helping to address the issues and challenges of today. ... And just as Dr. Harry Blake issued the clarion call to action, it was Dr. Simpkins who wheels the symbolic axe that helped to tear down the very walls that separated us as Shreveporters, that separated us as Americans, and that separated us as children of God. And it takes a brave man as he mentioned to take an axe and to wheel it for justice, but that’s exactly what C. O. Simpkins and those of that generation did in order to be able to ultimately make America a better place. And so Dr. Simpkins, I want to say thank you to you and again to all of the folks. ... What you see standing here before you today Mr. Chairman and members of the Council, is an embodiment of and a representative of that generation of giants who served their fellow citizens and ultimately made Shreveport a better place. ...

“Not only do we have your axe for you but, “The Shreveport Fire Department honors Dr. C. O. Simpkins for your service and leadership to the community during the turbulent and dangerous times of the Civil Rights movement. At great personal risk, you were instrumental locally and nationally in furthering equality for all. Presented, Shreveport Fire Department Fire Chief, Ronald C. Mulford, Shreveport Fire Department”.

Dr. Simpkins responded to the Mayor and City Council:

“Mayor Glover, members of the Council, it’s a very important part of my life to be here today, to see you and to get your words of encouragement and praise. We’ve come a long way. We still have a long way to go... I wanted my axe because I’ve got one more door to knock down, those doors are “hate and suspicion”. I’ll soon be 90 years old, so hurry and get my axe so I can knock the door down. Oh, I’m ready now. Ready to knock the door down and open the door of love because that’s the solution to everything. I love you all, thank you so very much.”

Copyright © 2017 C.O. Simpkins, Sr. All rights reserved.