Oscar Roosevelt Dove and his wife, Grace Betcon Dove, founded the Oscar’s Mortuary Incorporated in New Bern, North Carolina on January 16, 1960 to give quality funeral services to their community. Oscar Dove was a prominent figure in his community and the Civil Rights movement. An active member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for twelve years, Dove was a known integrationist leader as well as a member of the Bi-Racial Committee.

On Sunday, January 24, 1965, about an hour after dynamite was placed under two cars during a regional NAACP meeting at the St. Peter’s African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in New Bern, dynamite was also placed at Oscar’s Mortuary ripping up a driveway, a garage door, and breaking the windows in an ambulance garage. Dove informed authorities that this was not the first incident of its kind at his funeral home as he indicated that in July of 1964, a cross was burned in front of his establishment and that on several occasions bottles had been thrown through the front windows.

Three members of the Ku Klux Klan targeted and bombed Oscar’s Mortuary and the two cars outside of St. Peter’s. Raymond Mills, Laurie Fillingame, and Edward Fillingame were arrested for the three bombings. According to the enclosed court documents from June 2, 1965, Raymond Mills and Laurie Fillingame received five-year jail sentences that were reduced to three years probation; Edward Fillingame received a two-year jail sentence that was also reduced to three years probation. Raymond Mills also had to pay restitution to Oscar Dove in the amount of $448.00.

Adapted from an essay submitted with historical marker application by Rosanne Wilson

Image: Oscar's Mortuary. Courtesy of the African American Heritage and Culture Center of New Bern.


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Federal Bureau of Investigation report, February 9, 1965, RE: Edward Earl Fillingame, Laurie Latham Fillingame, Raymond Duguid Mills, New Bern Bombing, Dan Killian Moore, Governors Papers, State Archives, North Carolina Office of Archives and History, Raleigh, hereinafter cited as FBI, New Bern Bombing Report.

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