Hallowed ground: Crump Jr. honored for activism here
Published 9:55 am Tuesday, January 17, 2017
The northwest corner of Veto and Washington streets has become hallowed ground.
Monday morning, more than 200 people ignored a brisk wind and threatening skies to pay homage to Frank Crump Jr., one of the black community’s most influential leaders, and dedicate a state marker to commemorate his life and work for civil rights.
The marker was approved by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Its $2,100 cost was paid by the mayor’s discretionary fund.
“It’s an excellent remembrance of him,” Crump’s wife, Orelia P. Crump, said. “Of course I have a lot things to remember him by, but this is shared with everyone.”
“In the Vicksburg National Military Park, where roughly a million people visit every year, there are over 1,300 monuments, markers and tablets that pay tribute to those who fought to keep equality and justice and freedom from coming to a significant portion of the population,” former Vicksburg Mayor Robert Walker said. “This single tablet here represents one man who fought against what they fought for, and therein in itself is a great significance.”
A Navy veteran, Crump was an educator and activist who believed each new generation should do better than the one before. He taught math at Rosa A. Temple High School, and was an activist in the civil rights movement. He worked during the Freedom Summer of 1964, with local organizers and the Council of Federated Organizations to register African-American voters.
He was instrumental in coordinating the Vicksburg Citizens’ Appeal, a newspaper that published news and events involving African Americans worldwide. In July 1964, Crump was elected as one of eight delegates to the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party Convention.
Crump was the founder and president of the Community Action Network, which was established in 1987, and spoke out on issues affecting education in the Vicksburg Warren School District, issues of civil rights and social justice, and the economic growth and development of the City of Vicksburg.
He was also a licensed building contractor and owner of Crump Construction for almost 40 years, designing, building and renovating residential and commercial properties in the city and county.
“He was a whole lot of things to a whole lot of people,” Walker said. “He taught the need to rise up against injustice and to replace it with a just situation.
“Practically all of the people who have risen to places of significance in this community and other communities at some point had contact with Mr. Crump. He was man who had a profound impact.”
Former Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson, a former student, called Crump “a great man,” adding he has had an impact on Vicksburg, the state and the nation through his students.
“He was a remarkable, remarkable man,” he said.
Retired Brig. Gen. Robert Creer, another student, said Crump inspired him to major in math and computer science at Jackson State University, and the skills he learned led him to be commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District, and later the Mississippi Valley Division.
He said Crump was role model, “A man, which was so important in the schools to have men teaching young men so we would have people to look up to — to be role models. His legacy will live on in all of us.”
South Ward Alderman Willis Thompson said Crump was a man who acted on his convictions, “And I think the world would be a much better place if we had people to allow themselves to become the kind of men and women God wants them to be by acting on their convictions.”
Mayor George Flaggs Jr., remembered being a senior in high school in 1972 “and meeting this awesome man, Mr. Crump,” while participating in a boycott in the city.
“When we were expelled from school, five of us, Mr. Crump told me, ‘It’s OK; it’s OK,’” he said. “Mr. Crump was an educator, but he was a courageous educator. He not only talked in the classroom, but outside the classroom.”
Flaggs recalled a 1987 boycott against the school system.
“This courageous man took on the Vicksburg School District because Jim Stirgus was the superintendent of the school district and they changed the rules where he couldn’t become the superintendent; he was the acting superintendent, and he (Crump) boycotted. He always stood up for what is right.”
Flaggs called the marker the first mark “of us being able to commemorate and mark this hallow ground so these young people and the Crump family, when they come to Vicksburg they can see this hallowed ground for that this awesome. He gave you the key to the city. He stood for equality. I don’t believe Vicksburg could be the Vicksburg (that) Vicksburg is had not Mr. Crump walked this hallowed ground.”
“If my father were here, he would say, ‘All right,’” his son, Frank Crump III said, adding his father would also have challenged people to help others.
“This is a weekend for reflection and a good time for all,” he said. “Many people have traveled from long distances; there are many things you could have done today, but God is great and we are thankful from the family. He has touched you. Whatever it is, he still lives through you.”