“You can’t jail us all, segregation’s bound to fall.” - sung at New Ahoskie Baptist Church, as recalled by Charlie Morris
New Ahoskie Baptist Church was the central meeting place for civil rights activists in Ahoskie during the 1960s. The church’s leaders (Reverend William Tyree, Gerald Tyree, and Raymond Grant) revived the local chapter of the NAACP in 1962. Meeting in the church, the NAACP engaged in community conversations and hosted speakers of national and local importance.
In late 1962, Reverend Tyree was succeeded by the Reverend John L. Scott, a 25-year-old graduate of Crozier Theological Seminary. Reverend Scott partnered with the Better Citizens Club to hold monthly civil rights rallies in the church’s basement. The rallies featured prominent speakers, including Golden Frinks. Participants learned peaceful demonstration strategies and protest songs.
Reverend Scott participated in local and national events, including the March on Washington, and organized the first protest rally held in Ahoskie. He led local activists in improving facilities at Black schools and successfully sued to desegregate the local hospital. Reverend Scott also led a successful effort to keep the Town of Ahoskie from hiring a police chief with a record of harming African Americans, led the peaceful integration of the local school system, and successfully pressured local businesses to hire Black people.
In 1965, New Ahoskie Church leaders established a political action committee to ensure African Americans were represented in politics. This led to the election of several local African Americans and served to ensure continued racial progress in Ahoskie.
Adapted from an essay submitted with historical marker application by Charlie Morris
Image: New Ahoskie Baptist Church, 1965, courtesy of New Ahoskie Baptist Church
“Ahoskie Services,” The News and Observer, July 20,1963.
“Burned Church Site Scene for Service,” The News and Observer, November 11, 1967.
“Church Briefs,” The News and Observer, November 2, 1963.
“ECSC Vespers,” The News and Observer, November 24, 1968.
“Negro Files,” The News and Observer, April 8, 1966.
“Return to Hertford,” The News and Observer, February 4, 1968.
“Rights Action Names Hospital at Ahoskie,” The News and Observer, May 8,1965.
Agnes Mitchell Hall, widow of George Hall, recorded interview.
Annie Vaughan Felton (deceased), widow of Reverend James A. Felton, recorded interview.
Conversation with Michelle Felton, November 1, 2020.
Elnora Chavis (deceased), widow of Gus Chavis, recorded interview.
Ethel Parker Tyree, widow of Gerald Tyree, recorded interview.
Reverend John L. Scott and Dr. Barbara E. Adams, Civil Rights Voice for the Oppressed – The Story of John L. Scott (Silver Spring, MD: Beckham Publication Group, 2013).
Reverend John L. Scott, recorded interview.