Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cape May and King

In keeping with the fact that February is Black History Month, I would like to mention the connection of Cape May, NJ with Dr. Martin Luther King.

Last summer a woman named Molly Wood Tully wrote a letter to the Editor of the Cape May Star and Wave, giving information that I had never known. She spoke of the biennial Quaker Gathering in Cape May on June 27, 1958 - fifty years ago. The Rev. King spoke at this gathering in the city's Convention Hall. The hall was completely filled, and people outside were leaning into the windows to hear him as he spoke on "Nonviolence and Racial Justice". I wish I had been in Cape May that summer and had heard him.

Those were not good days in Cape May City for black people. Blacks were not permitted to register as guests at the hotels. The Rev. King stayed in a private home while he was here. Racial discrimination was taken for granted. As a result, the Quakers, who had met here for many years, decided they could no longer meet in a town where people of all colors were not welcome. They moved their meetings to other locations, and never returned here. How sad.

I was aware of some of the history of discrimination in Cape May. I had heard of the narrow strip of beach that allowed blacks to enjoy the sand and sea. I have seen buildings where they were housed. I knew of Cold Spring Church where they were allowed only in the balcony seats. I have visited the cemeteries, for blacks only, since apparently even in death they were not welcome. But I never knew of this particular incident.

Rev. King, I think you would be welcome here today, at least by most of us. And as for those who still harbor such prejudice - we will say a prayer for them, and thank God that at least they are now in the minority.


Kathie Brown said...

Amen, Bobbie. Amen!

Sylvia K said...

What a beautiful post and a tribute to Dr. King and the Quakers! Yes, we are defintely in a much better place in this country than we were 50 years ago. Thanks for this today!

Daryl said...

Small world time.

Remember I told you a friend's family has a house in Cape May?

The house is called Tully Manor .. and the owner Molly Wood Tully is my friend's step mother!


Dawn Fine said...

Great post Bobbie...
Thank goodness things are so much better...and getting better every day.
Bobbie you have a heart of gold!

Kay said...

Our country is definitely moving in the right direction at last. Thank goodness!

Anonymous said...

I am Daryl's friend . . . she sent me a link to this blog and and yes, Molly Wood Tully is my stepmother. She is an amazing person and I am constantly finding out new things about her. What a wonderful story! Now I have yet another reason to say that Cape May is one of my all time favorite places in the world.

Anonymous said...

I am Daryl's friend and yes, my stepmother is Molly Wood Tully. What a great story! She is an amazing person and I am always discovering new and wonderful things about her.

Now I have one more reason to say Cape May is one of my favorite places in the world!

bobbie said...

Sheila - Thank you for visiting my blog. I was so surprised when Daryl told me she knew Mrs. Tully's step-
daughter. It's nice to discover a new connection to Cape May. I loved Mrs.T.'s letter last year, and saved it. Came across it again a week or so ago, and thought it was worthy of a blog post.