Interview with Dr. John O. Brown

The Arthur McDuffie killing, what was the response, what was your response?


One of anger. There's no question about it this, this question, the system of justice that we have in this country and when you are my age, you can remember back at the days of the lynch mobs and everything, the lynchings that even, ah, sort of spurred the existence of the NAACP. There used to be a report that was given each year on the number of lynchings that occurred in the United States and that was one of the first programs of the NAACP, to see that a federal anti-lynching law was passed. And, ah, of course in recent years we heard about Emmett Till up in Mississippi. And this was the very same thing that had happened in, in the Arthur McDuffie case. We knew that a Black man had been killed by a policeman. We knew the policemen who were present. And yet when they had the trial of Arthur McDuffie up there. They came back with guilt--with a verdict of not guilty. These, these people were not guilty of murdering this man. And it was just another lynching. So immediately there was a feeling of anger in the entire community. I belong to an organization called Sigma Pi Phi, on the national level it's more or less known as the Boule. At the time of the Arthur McDuffie verdict we were having a, a workshop at one of the Holiday Inn's on Biscayne Boulevard, trying to work out solutions to the race problem here in Miami, the economics, the politics, discussing all of these things. And also considering the possibility of violence because of the Arthur McDuffie case. So about 3 o'clock that afternoon, it was announced in the workshop that Arthur McDuffie, that the officers were not guilty. And we were certainly fearful at that moment that all hell was going to break loose in the Black community. We disbanded I guess about 5 o'clock and certainly--