|Name||Julius W. Hobson|
Washington, District of Columbia , United States
|| May 29, 1922
|Died||March 23, 1977
|Last Modifed||Juan Croniqueur|
Nov 23, 2015 02:39am
Black - U.S. Army -
|Info||Julius W. Hobson (1922 - 1977) was a civil rights leader whose political career grew out of his grass roots activism in the District beginning in the 1950s. In the District, he worked for equity in public school funding and fair rental housing, opposed D.C. freeways and police brutality, and was a key founder of the D.C. Statehood Party. In the national political arena, Hobson was a leader in major civil rights organizations, an early advocate of black power, and the Vice Presidential candidate on the People’s Party ticket with Dr. Benjamin Spock in 1972. |
Julius Hobson was born in Birmingham, Alabama on May 29, 1922; his father died when he was very young. His stepfather owned a drugstore and a dry cleaning business and his mother was a teacher and later an elementary school principal. After graduation from high school, Hobson attended Tusgekee until World War II interrupted college. Hobson served as an artillery spotter pilot in the Army during the War and was awarded three bronze stars and other medals for his 35 flying missions in Europe. After the War, he earned an engineering degree from Tuskegee Institute and then a masters in Economics from Howard University. At Howard, Hobson studied with some leading socialist thinkers whose radical perspectives influenced his own analyses of political and social issues.
After college, Hobson worked first at the Library of Congress as an economic researcher and then later as an social science statistical analyst with the Social Security Administration. Hobson married his first wife Carol Smith in 1947 and two children were born of this union, Julius, Jr., and Jean. In 1969, Hobson married his second wife, Tina C. Lower.
Julius Hobson’s civic activism began in earnest in the early 1950's. Not long after graduation from Howard and as a young parent, Hobson took an interest in efforts to desegregate schools in the District in the wake of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. He was PTA President at both Slowe Elementary (1953), a segregated black school, and later at the newly desegregated Woodbridge Elementary School. Hobson was President of the Woodridge Civic Association (1950 -1953), Vice President of the citywide Federation of Civic Associations (1955 -1957), a member of the NAACP's Executive Committee (1958) and in 1959 he co-authored Civil Rights in the Nation's Capital: Report on a Decade of Progress. Clearly, by the close of the 1950's, Hobson was a civil rights power in the city of Washington.
In 1961, leaders at the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) selected Hobson as chair of the local chapter of CORE. Within a couple of years, he became CORE’s regional director. In CORE, Hobson led campaigns of roving and unpredictable picketing at local D.C. establishments to protest job discrimination among D.C. employers, especially in the downtown area. Hobson organized almost 800 picket lines at retail stores from 1960 to 1964, which resulted in 5,000 new jobs for blacks, many in non-traditional positions. In 1963, Hobson led a major campaign for open housing in D.C., which resulted in 500 persons demonstrating at the District Building. Eventually, District lawmakers outlawed segregated rental housing. As part of his national work for CORE, Hobson trained civil rights activists in non-violent techniques for participation in the 1961 Freedom Rides in the deep South.
CORE expelled Hobson in mid-1964 due to what they believed were his increasingly militant stands. After leaving CORE, Hobson founded the Associated Community Teams (ACT), a militant national organization. ACT took the position that the goals and aspirations of Black Americans were being compromised by white involvement in the Civil Rights Movement through white financial support and decision making. ACT was on the cutting edge of what became known as the Black Power movement. While at ACT, Hobson began referring to himself as the "spiritual father" of Stokely Carmichael, a key spokesperson for the Black Power movement at the time. Although not entirely in agreement with the black power movement’s philosophy and tactics, Hobson continued an association with the movement throughout his life.
In 1966, with William Kuntsler as his attorney, Hobson brought a lawsuit against Carl Hansen, the superintendent of D.C. schools and other school officials to receive educational equality —for black and poor students in District schools. The lawsuit was the culmination of several years of statistical research conducted by Hobson to support a claim of educational inequality in D.C. schools. The landmark Hobson v. Hansen case, decided by Judge J. Skelly Wright in July 1967, mandated equity in school funding for blacks and changes to a system, which tracked black children in separate classrooms. As a result of the case, Hobson became recognized as an expert on educational equity.
In 1968, Hobson ran for his first elected office, a seat on the District's Board of Education and won. Hobson served on the Board of Education for just one year after losing his reelection bid in 1969. After his election defeat, Hobson founded WIQE with his wife Tina. The Hobsons organized WIQE in response to the May 1968 riots and dedicated its work to attaining implementation of Hobson v. Hansen. Hobson continued to push for the full implementation of Hobson v. Hansen throughout his life.
While Hobson had a very militant profile in civil rights, he worked for world peace and opposed U.S. involvement in the Viet Nam War. He was active in the Anti-War movement and took part in most of the major Anti-War demonstrations, many of which were held in the District. As a result off his Anti-War activities, in 1972 Benjamin Spock asked Hobson to run as his Vice Presidential running mate on the People's Party slate.
Hobson was a key early founder of the D.C. Statehood Party. The D.C. Statehood Movement had its roots in the early 1970s when a small core of statehood supporters convinced Hobson to run for non-voting delegate to Congress in the 1971 election. Walter Fauntroy defeated Hobson, but a viable new third party in D.C. was founded.
In 1974, Hobson was elected councilman-at-large on the Statehood Party ticket in the first City Council election in the District in over a century. As a Councilman, Hobson continued to push for local educational reform, especially while serving as chair of the Educational and Youth Affairs Committee, as well as an end to all forms of racial discrimination in the District. Hobson died in office on March 23, 1977.