Dr. C.O. Simpkins, Sr., civil rights pioneer from Shreveport, Louisiana, will be honored at a gala at the Shreveport Convention Center on November 3, 2018, benefiting the capital campaign of the North Louisiana Civil Rights Coalition (NLCRC) to restore the old Galilee Baptist Church as the future location of the Galilee Civil Rights Museum. Simpkins was a founding member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in the 1950s, serving closely with his friend Martin Luther King, Jr.
Cuthbert Ormond Simpkins I was born in 1925 in Mansfield, LA. He attended Wiley College and Tennessee State University, where he received his undergraduate degree. He earned a Doctorate of Dental Surgery from Meharry Medical College School of Dentistry in Nashville, Tennessee. He served in the Air Force as a Captain until 1951 and returned to Shreveport to practice dentistry.
Simpkins’ civil rights activities focused on voting rights. He was harassed by the Ku Klux Klan, elected officials and law enforcement. Simpkins invited Dr. King to Shreveport to call attention to the racial problems here. His home and office were firebombed, and he ultimately moved to New York, where he continued his civil rights advocacy.
After 26 years in New York, he returned to Shreveport and ran for mayor. Simpkins lost the mayor’s race but won a seat in the Louisiana House of Representatives, representing District 4 from 1992-1996. He retired in 2011 but continues to be a community advocate. He and his wife donated land for a community clinic in an underserved neighborhood. Simpkins is Honorary chairman and founder of the NLCRC, along with Dr. Harry Blake, and Dr. C.E. McLain.
Andrew Young, who also worked with Simpkins and King, will be the keynote speaker for the event. Young is an American politician, diplomat and civil rights activist. Beginning his career as a pastor, he was an early leader in the civil rights movement, serving as Executive Director of the SCLC. Young later became active in politics, serving first as a U.S. Congressman from Georgia, then United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and finally Mayor of Atlanta.
Sponsorships, tickets, and details for the event are available at this website.