Item #7333 Cairo Solidarity Rally. Charles Koen.

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[Koen, Charles].

Cairo Solidarity Rally.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1971. Broadside, 8.5” x 14”. CONDITION: Near fine with scattered wear at edges.

Scarce and striking broadside for a Philadelphia civil rights rally in solidarity with Cairo, Illinois, which, although a small town, became a focal point of northern racist violence and civil rights activism in the 1960s and ‘70s.

The “Cairo Solidarity Rally” was advertised for June 17th, 1971 at Philadelphia’s long-standing social activist church, the Church of the Advocate. Reverend Charles Koen, a Cairo, Illinois native and founder of the Cairo United Front, was the headline speaker. Koen organized the town’s campaign—a more than two-year boycott against all white-owned businesses in the town—after “white vigilante groups (‘White Hats’), in cooperation with the local police, shot into an all-black housing project for two and a half hours” on March 31, 1969 (Guide). This was far from the first attack on Cairo’s Black population, which had suffered from the town’s violent opposition to civil rights since before Koen had begun organizing as a high schooler in the early 1960s, and which had made Cairo “synonymous nationwide with racial violence with a northern accent” (Good, Cairo).

Besides Koen, other speakers at the event were Rev. Calvin B Marshall and Rev. Muhammed Kenyatta of the National and Philadelphia chapters of the Black Economic Development Conference (BEDC), respectively, and Rev. Wycliffe Jangdharrie, of the West Philadelphia chapter of the NAACP. The event’s many cosponsors—the West Philadelphia NAACP, the BEDC, the Council of Black Clergy, and the Black Workers Congress, a Marxist organization that emerged from Detroit’s League of Revolutionary Black Workers—speak to the high degree of coordination that marked this period’s civil rights organizing. As one radical paper described the main rally, which took place in Cairo two days after the Philadelphia event advertised here, “The significance of the day’s activities lay in the broad support mobilized, showing an increased awareness of layers within the Black liberation movement of the necessity to defend the struggle in Cairo” (Garee). The broadside bears the image of a minister, presumably Koen, wielding a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other, part of the “new militant generation of ministers coming of age in the 1950s and 1960s,” preaching social gospel and leading civil rights activism (SNCC). A photo of Koen speaking appears at the lower right.

OCLC lists just two other copies, at Yale and University of Pennsylvania. A third is held in Emory University’s Black Print Culture collection.

REFERENCES: Garee, Dale. “Abernathy, Imamu at Cairo solidarity rally,” The Militant, July 9, 1971, p. 10; Good, Paul. Cairo, Illinois. Racism at Floodtide (Washington, D.C.: Clearinghouse, October 1973), p. 4; “Guide to the United Front of Cairo, Illinois Photographs PHOTOS.171,” Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive (NYU), online; “SNCC’s Campaign in Cairo, Illinois,” SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) Digital Gateway.

Item #7333

Price: $450.00

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