Republication of Johnny Kimble Jr.’s Op-Ed from February 1969

As the University of Wisconsin-Platteville prepares to mark the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, the Exponent will be publishing a series of articles relating to race and segregation issues that have occurred in the Platteville area. In last week’s edition, a piece appeared regarding kneeling as a form of silent protest.

The following letter is a reprint of student Johnny Kimble Jr.’s Letter to the Editor from February 1969 about the treatment of Black students on campus. Following Kimble Jr.’s letter is an endorsement from the Young Democrats of Platteville in regards to the letter. Again, this is a reprint of the article that was published in the Exponent in 1969.

– Abbey Pignatari | Editor-In-Chief

“Reader Opinion

Writer Replies To Accusations

Dear Editor:

I am sorry that I am black and that people notice and disapprove of me.

I am sorry that I have remained a hated sore, a black sore in an “Agape” (unconditional) white-loving society.

Now there is a Black man – not a Negro, but a BLACK MAN [–] who contradicts traditions. Blacks, not Negroes, have taken steps necessary to exercise their God-given constitutional rights, as citizens of the United States of America. Blacks, not Negros, no longer react to the whites’ criticism with “Naw, Sir” or “Yes, Ma’am.” Today we say “yes” and more often than not[,] we say “no.”

To some, the Blacks appear unpatriotic because they didn’t stand and recognize the American flag at the basketball game [on] Feb. 8, 1969. Unpatriotic! Where is it written in history that Blacks did not shed their blood to develop this nation? In reply, I simply say that “the first American martyr to independence” was a Black man, Crispus Attucks, March 5, 1770. You can read more about him in “Eyewitness: The Negro in American History” by William Loren Katz[,] which is sold in the Trading Post at $5.25.

What battles are referred to in the Exponent when [George] Lane makes the statement, “If they can’t show respect for this country, they don’t deserve to be called citizens!”? If nothing else[,] he could have been original – George Wallace of Alabama said it much better.

Mr. Lane, I would like to be the first to congratulate you – I admire your courage in stating your views. However, in all fairness, I must strenuously disagree with your conclusion. My conclusion is entirely opposite to your own. 

I think you owe the (six or more) Black students your most humble apology. For as it has been said in the past, and as it shall be said again, it takes more courage to defend what one believes than to conform to the majority’s views. Whether their beliefs are popular or not, I am sure that if you give this letter your careful consideration, you will agree. 

I would venture to say, if he were alive today, even Crispus Attucks would not stand to pay homage to a flag that represents a system that allows him rights only as a second-class citizen. 

– Johnny Kimble Jr. 

Dear Editor:

At a meeting of the Young Democrats of Platteville on Feb. 12, 1969, Johnny Kimble entered the room (213 SC) and asked those present if he could read a letter he had written concerning a letter in the Exponent Feb. 13, 1969.

When he finished reading, a discussion on the issues followed. A motion was made that the Young Dems endorse Mr. Kimble’s letter in hopes that it would assist those who deem it necessary to write letters[,] such as that written by George Lane[,] to understand those things they seem incapable of understanding. The motion was carried unanimously. 

– The WSUP Y-Dems

John Cox, Chairman”