A Petty Affair: Grace Julian Clarke and the 1915 Campaign for the Indiana General Federation of Women’s Clubs Presidency

Courtesy of The Fort Wayne News, Oct 30, 1915, 14.

Historians often refer to the Suffrage Movement. However, an examination of its leaders shows many movements with sometimes conflicting goals and methods. Evaluating the campaign for the Indiana General Federation of Women’s Clubs presidency in 1915 illustrates this and provides a glimpse into the everyday happenings of suffrage at the local and state levels, including slandering efforts that reflect our modern-day politics.

Grace Julian Clarke is most notably remembered for her local advocacy as a clubwoman, journalist, and staunch supporter of women’s suffrage. Living and working primarily in Irvington, Indiana—annexed by Indianapolis in 1902—she attended Indianapolis Public Schools and graduated from Butler University (located in Irvington at the time).  She earned her B.A. in 1884 and her M.A. in 1885 in philosophy. She was the daughter of George W. Julian and granddaughter of Joshua Reed Giddings, both of whom were leading abolitionists and members of the United States Congress. Laura Giddings, Clarke’s mother and the daughter of Joshua Reed Giddings, exposed Clarke to women’s organizations when she, and others, organized the Indianapolis Woman’s Club in 1875.

The Indianapolis Star, October 21, 1916, 11, accessed Newspapers.com.

Furthering familial ties to political and legal activists, Clarke married attorney Charles B. Clarke on September 11, 1887. In addition to practicing law, Charles Clarke also served in the Indiana Senate in 1913 and 1915. Prior to their marriage, Charles had worked closely with George W. Julian as a U.S. Deputy Surveyor in the New Mexico Territory. Grace was a writer for the Indianapolis Star from 1911 to 1929. She authored three publications related to her father— George W. Julian Vol. 1, Indiana Biographical series; Later Speeches on Political Questions: With Select Controversial Papers; and George W. Julian: Some Impressions. Furthermore, Clarke was a founder, president, and activist for numerous women’s clubs in Indiana between 1892 and 1929.

Clarke’s work, however, was not always marked by success. In 1915, Clarke declared her support for Terre Haute’s Lenore Hanna Cox in the campaign for president of the Indiana General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Cox, however, was ultimately defeated in a landslide by Carolyn Fairbank of Fort Wayne. The political conflict between Cox and Stella Stimson, with movers and shakers like Grace Julian Clarke at the forefront, demonstrates women’s political activism and ambition prior to obtaining enfranchisement. Far from bystanders of the male-dominated political sphere, women were at the foreground of their own political wars before they could legally vote.

The Indianapolis News, October 20, 1915, 7, accessed Newspapers.com.

Clarke’s, Cox’s, and Stimson’s political engagements reflect passion founded not only on morality and ethics, but also political gain.  Clarke’s dedication to Cox illustrates a failed political alliance in an otherwise successful lifetime vocation. Clarke was prepared to risk her reputation to advance her political agenda. The same is true for Stimson, although Stimson engaged in manipulative politics reflective of allegations against male politicians in newspapers. Thus, evaluating the campaign demonstrates the complex layers associated with suffragists and clubwomen during the years leading up to enfranchisement. It further demonstrates how women complied with and rebelled against social normative values and beliefs.

The 1915 election gained widespread attention from clubwomen and men alike. Clarke strongly detested Cox’s most formidable opponent, Stella C. Stimson, for her participation in what Clarke viewed as unethical campaign practices. Caught in a battle of circulating letters in which personal attacks were made against Cox, Stimson stated that she would not be running for presidency. Yet even without formally running against Cox, Stimson was by far Cox’s foremost threat. Cox and her supporters suspected that Stimson was using Fairbank as a fill-in candidate to enact her own temperance agenda.

Cox and her loyal supporters did not hesitate to publicly retaliate after Stimson began circulating “scandalous rumors” including allegations that Cox was a cigarette smoker, saloon supporter, perpetual curser, and an atheist. Grace Julian Clarke spearheaded the campaign against Stimson, disputing both publicly and privately that Stimson was disloyal, as well as a liar and cheater, as shown by her deceitful assault on Cox. Clarke further criticized Stimson for engaging in what the Indianapolis Star referenced on November 9, 1915 as “machine politics” during the campaign, including allegations that she was active in having the franchise vote thrown out at the Federation convention. This contention ultimately led to formal requests for Stimson’s resignation as a Woman’s Franchise League of Indiana’s board member in the weeks after the election. Although Stimson claimed that she had not tampered with the votes, it is undeniable that she had aggressively campaigned throughout the state to guard the Federation from Cox’s leadership.

Courtesy of Jacob Piatt Dunn’s and General William Harrison Kemer’s Indiana and Indianans: A History of Aboriginal and Territorial Indiana and the Century of Statehood.

Stimson recognized the importance of recruiting Clarke, whom the The Tribune named “undefeatable.” Stimson wrote Clarke on multiple occasions pleading that she heed her personal evaluation of Cox and shift her alliance. Bound by loyalty to an ethical campaign free from dishonesties, in addition to Cox’s common views regarding suffrage, Clarke refused to be entertained or deterred by Stimson. Clarke wrote to Stimson on August 28, 1915: “I would rather be guilty of all the sins charged by you against Mrs. Cox than have to reflect that I had deliberately sought to blast the reputation of one who for years had been honored by thousands.”

The allegations against these women, and their implications, were noted within weeks of Grace declaring her support for Cox. In a letter to Clarke written on August 17, 1915, Helen C. Benbridge noted that:

this has come to be a much more important matter than just the election of one woman. It has turned into a struggle between the progressive and the reactionary elements and may mean a great deal for the future of the federation in Indiana.

Within a very short period, the election became critical to the future of women’s clubs and qualifications for leadership in the Federation. For Clarke and Stimson, the election was also critical in defining whether temperance or suffrage would become the club’s priority. Stimson was closely associated with the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and known to be “an antiliquor enthusiast,” whose interest “colors and dominates everything with what she is connected.” While women like Stimson looked to end liquor sales in a feminist effort to protect women and children’s physical safety from drunken husbands, other societies looked to make suffrage their top priority. The difference in conviction was based predominantly on one’s individual background.

In her thesis “Women in Voluntary Service Association: Values and Meanings,” Sarah Katheryn Nathan describes the fundamental incentives behind women’s voluntary associations. She concludes that volunteerism is motivated by personal need. For Stimson, the election meant preserving conservative female values while pushing a temperance agenda. Yet Stimson did not want to muddy her own reputation by seeming fraudulent, and therefore, unsuccessfully, attempted to scapegoat Fairbank on the ballot. For Clarke, supporting Cox consequently challenged the status quo of women’s roles and disassociated temperance agendas to further advance suffrage. Clarke was able to advocate for suffrage, perhaps as a result of her personal privilege and familial influence. Many women in Indiana who led suffrage organizations were financially secure, married to politicians that supported their endeavors, had no children, and were predominantly Protestant. It is also worth analyzing Clarke’s motivations because of her father’s work toward suffrage.

“Julian, Rep. Hon. George Washington of Indiana,” glass negative, circa 1865-1880, accessed Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Clarke explained her background in suffrage, stating in a letter to Miss Boswell on May 8, 1914 that “my father had the honor of introducing the very first suffrage amendment in the Congress shortly after the Civil War. This is to show you why I cannot be a trimmer [one who does not commit to a party or issue].” Although historians question whether Julian was in fact the first to propose such an amendment, and though he was ultimately unsuccessful in passing suffrage legislation himself, the extent of her father’s work compelled Clarke to follow in his political footsteps. This aligns with Nathan’s analysis that an individual’s personal background plays a strong role in why and how people are socialized into voluntary behaviors, especially that of how a father’s membership in a group can be a motivating factor for an individual to further a similar cause.

The conflict between temperance and suffrage motivations, regardless of underlying motivation, was put aside occasionally for a common cause. Such solidarity, however, quickly crumbled under what Barbara Springer calls “petty pride.” It was difficult for reform groups to find the right woman who could both delegate authority and inspire loyalty to multiple factions. This was true for Clarke, who was directly situated between club and suffrage groups. Despite the “efficiency, dedication, and zeal” of leaders like Clarke, these women were also, on many occasions, to blame for the failure of early enfranchisement. Historian Dr. Anita Morgan characterizes an example of this failure in  her article “The Unfinished Story: Indiana Women and the Bicentennial.” She describes how an early victory for women’s suffrage in Indiana was foregone as state politicians increasingly feared that a vote for suffrage meant a vote in favor of temperance legislation. However clear or not to women that their efforts were weakened by restive factions, women like Stimson, Cox, and Clarke continued to remain monolithic for personal ambition and petty pride.

Courtesy of The Fort Wayne Daily News, October 27, 1915, 18.

The 1915 election for president of the Indiana Federation of Women proves that women during the early 20th Century were political beings who were driven by their own personal agendas. By specifically examining how women like Grace Julian Clarke were motivated, influenced, and able to both successfully and unsuccessfully advocate on the local and state level, a more cohesive narrative of the suffrage movement in the United States is formed. It can be concluded that Clarke was heavily influenced by her father’s work toward suffrage at the peak of his political career, and that she likely would not have felt such a strong connection to the goals of suffrage without his influence. The perspectives of archetypal suffragists and clubwomen like Clarke, Cox, and Stimson in Indiana reflect the typically overlooked narrative of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This narrative reflects resistance to the dominant cultural expectations of women during the time to retain a ladylike persona. It simultaneously demonstrates an increasing divergence from such expectations, as seen through their campaign tactics regarding slandering and manipulative politics. In effect, stories of women-dominated politics at a local level complement the larger narrative of suffrage— one that so desperately calls for a three-dimensional evaluation of both private and public achievements.

Further Reading:

Karen J. Blair, The Clubwoman as Feminist: True Womanhood Redefined, 1868-1914 (New York: Holmes & Meier Publishers), 1980.

Blanche Foster Boruff, Women of Indiana. Indianapolis: Indiana, Indianapolis, Women’s Biography Associations, Mathew Farson, 1941.

Grace Julian Clarke, George W. Julian (Indianapolis: Indiana Heritage Commission, 1923).

Grace Julian Clarke, “George W. Julian: Some Impressions,” Indiana Magazine of History 2, no. 2 (June 1906): 57-69.

Nancy Gabin and Anita Morgan, “Taking Indiana Women’s History into the Twenty-First Century,” Indiana Magazine of History 112, no. 4 (2016): 283-288.

Courtney Grace Gates, History: Indiana Federation of Clubs (Fort Wayne: Fort Wayne Printing Company), 1939.

Grace Julian Clarke Papers, Manuscript and Rare Books Division, Indiana State Library.

Linda C. Gugin and James E. St. Clair, Indiana’s 200: The People Who Shaped the Hoosier State (Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press), 2015.

Jennifer M. Kalvaitis, “Indianapolis Women Working for the Right to Vote: The Forgotten Drama of 1917,” MA Thesis, Indiana University, 2013.

Anita Morgan, “The Unfinished Story: Indiana Women and the Bicentennial,” Traces of Indiana and Midwestern History 28, no. 4, (2016).

Sarah Katheryn Nathan, “Women in Voluntary Service Associations: Values and Meanings,” MA Thesis, Indiana University, 2013.

Karen Manners Smith, “New Paths to Power: 1890-1920,” No Small Courage: A History of Women in the United States. Edited by Nancy F. Cott (Oxford University Press, 2000), 363.

Barbara A. Springer, “Ladylike Reformers: Indiana Women and Progressive Reform, 1900 to 1920,” Ph.D. diss., Indiana University, 1985.

Walking with Dr. King: The Civil Rights Legacy of Rabbi Maurice Davis

Last Sunday I went for a walk . . . I did not walk alone.

With these simple words Rabbi Maurice Davis described his 1965 trip to Selma to the readers of the (Indianapolis) Jewish Post. Rabbi Davis’s “walk” was a protest led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. against institutional racism, voter suppression, and violence against African Americans. When King asked civil rights leaders from around the country to join him in Alabama, Davis had no question that it was his duty to join the demonstration of solidarity. Davis had long worked for civil rights through both secular and faith-based channels. He advocated for community action in his sermons to the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation. He led several civic action councils that combated segregation, racist policies, and poverty. And he extended his appeal for civil rights to the entire city through a regular newspaper column and a television show. Mostly, however, Rabbi Davis marched at Selma “because it was right.”

Jewish Post, January 20, 1956, 1, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles.

“You Were a Spark for Us”

Maurice Davis was born in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1921. Census records show that his Russian-born father Jacob managed a garage while his mother Sadie cared for five children. They did well for themselves and were able to send Maurice first to Brown University in 1939 and then to the University of Cincinnati where he received his B.A. in 1945. He then received his Master of Hebrew Letters from the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. After serving several different congregations as a student rabbi, he became rabbi of Adath Israel in Lexington, Kentucky in 1951. By this point he was already active in the local civil rights movement and joined the Kentucky Commission Against Segregation.

Sketch of current home of the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation at 6501 North Meridian Street, accessed https://ihcindy.org/who_we_are/history

Rabbi Maurice Davis became the spiritual leader of the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation (IHC) in March 1956, in time to celebrate the centennial of its founding in 1856. Over 600 families made up the large congregation which was in the process of planning their new temple at 64th and Meridian, which still houses the IHC today (a move from their earlier location at the Market Street Temple.) As the ninth Rabbi serving the IHC, Davis continued to advance the forward-thinking Reform Judaism of his predecessors, according to the Jewish Post. In his first year, he attracted eighty new congregants, and  temple brotherhood president Herman Logan wrote in the congregational bulletin:

You were a spark for us which turned into a flame when a new brotherhood was beginning.

It was an auspicious start for the young rabbi.

“Something Less Than Welcome”

While the IHC welcomed Rabbi Davis, his wife Marion, and their sons Jay and Michael, some other Hoosiers made the Davis family feel “something less than welcome.” In 1959, the Jewish Post reported that Rabbi Davis’s son Jay was denied entry to the Riviera Club‘s swimming pool at 5640 North Illinois Street. The Rabbi told his congregation that Jay unfortunately learned first about the club’s “wonderful slide” and then its anti-Semitic policies. Jay summarized the situation as only a child could, stating: “Gee whiz, dad, it isn’t fair.” The Rabbi then had to explain the difference between legal segregation and social segregation to his son. The rabbi told his congregation that while many people think segregation in the private sphere “has no meaning” and should be tolerated, it does have meaning to the people it affects. And in this case, the meaning was that a nine-year-old boy was made to feel inferior to his peers.

Jewish Post, January 1, 1958, 1, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles.

The Jewish Post pursued the story, reporting on a survey of five “exclusive” Indianapolis clubs. Each club, including the Riviera Club, claimed not to discriminate against Jews. Some of the club chairmen and presidents even claimed they had Jewish members. However, when the Jewish Post interviewed the club managers, they reported that they knew of no Jewish members. Others in the club leadership claimed no Jews had applied for membership or that they did not keep track of religious affiliation. From the perspective of the Post, none gave a straight answer.

Jewish Post, July 17, 1959, 1, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles.
Jewish Post, July 29, 1960, 1, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles.

Rabbi Davis did not only respond to discrimination when it was personal. He believed that it was his responsibility, and that of all religious leaders, to work for moral justice. Not all of his Jewish colleagues agreed. In response to a 1960 Indianapolis Times poll of religious leaders (reported by the Jewish Post), two of Indianapolis’s leading rabbis (Congregation B’nai Torah and Shara Tefila) reported that clergy should keep out of politics. Rabbi Davis, on the other hand, said it was the responsibility of the synagogue to help inform members on political issues, to encourage them to be active participants in government, and “to speak up whenever morality or ethics are involved in politics.”

Jewish Post, October 13, 1961, 15, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles.

Rabbi Davis not only advocated for equality for Jews, but all people facing oppression. He encouraged Jews to look beyond their own community and work to end discrimination everywhere. He stated, “A decent and sensitive America is good for all Americans and we must help her be so” (more here). Indianapolis’s African American community took note. In 1960, the Indianapolis branch of the NAACP named Davis its “honorary chairman” and the Indianapolis Recorder reported regularly on his efforts to fight segregation and inequality. As president of the Indianapolis Human Relations Council, Davis worked to end racist mortgage and loan policies that denied fair housing to African Americans and created segregated neighborhoods (more here). He conducted personal investigations of restaurants and other establishments which had reputations for discriminating against African Americans and reported his findings in the Jewish Post (more here). By 1962, he had a regular column giving his views on issues of the day and often advocating for civil rights.

Jewish Post, July 27, 1962, 13, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles.

His columns were  often fiery calls to action. For example, in September 1963, he responded to the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Alabama where four African American children were killed “while putting on their choir robes.” Rabbi Davis, however, blamed not just the bomber and not just the racism and negligence of the governor and police chief, but “every American citizen who participates in prejudice or fails to oppose it.” His powerful arguments against injustice were often shaped by the legacy of the holocaust. He continued:

Segregation and discrimination, lead to bombing and lynching as surely as anti-Semitism leads to Auschwitz and Buchenwald. And any man who walks that path, has not the right to be amazed where it leads. We who know the end of the road, must say this openly, and believe this implicitly, and practice it publicly. And privately. And always.

Not long after his article on the bombing, Rabbi Maurice Davis received a bomb threat of his own.

“My Name Was One of Them”

Photograph of John Lewis, Hosea William, Albert Turner and Bob Mants Leading Marchers over the Edmund Pettus Bridge on Bloody Sunday, Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Records Group 406, accessed National Archives Catalog.

By 1965, the civil rights movement had reached its “political and emotional peak” with three marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest the suppression of African American votes and the recent killing of activist Jimmie Lee Jackson (more here: International Civil Rights Center and Museum). On March 7, the protesters led by John Lewis began a peaceful march, but were soon stopped at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma by state troopers and Dallas County police who were waiting for them. In an incident remembered as “Bloody Sunday,” police violently attacked the unarmed demonstrators with clubs and tear gas. Police beat Lewis unconscious. On March 9, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. flew to Selma and called for others to join him. That day, a larger group followed King back to the bridge to kneel in prayer, but dared go no further as a federal judge had issued a restraining order against the march. Many were disappointed that King did not attempt to march on toward Montgomery. Others, however, credit his concession with expediting the passage of the Voting Rights Act.*

Hammond Times, March 8, 1965, 1, accessed Newspapers.com.

The night of the second march to the bridge a group of white men killed Unitarian minister James Reeb who had traveled to Selma from Boston to join King. Related protests erupted across the country and King called for a third march. On Sunday, March 21, civil rights leaders and supporters from around the country arrived in Selma to march over the infamous bridge to Montgomery. Rabbi Maurice Davis would march in the front lines.

When the Indianapolis Star reported that Rabbi Davis and David H. Goldstein (of the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council) had left for Selma, the newspaper estimated that these Hoosiers would join around 300 people. Instead, Davis reported that they joined thousands at Brown Chapel Methodist Church for a ceremony before the march. Davis described their arrival at the church:

As we approached Selma we saw the Army begin to position itself. Jeeps and trucks filled with soldiers, hospital units, and communications experts clustered along the way . . . The road leading to the church was lined with National Guardsmen, recently federalized.

While President Johnson ordered National Guard protection for the marchers to avoid a repeat of “Bloody Sunday” and its ensuing protests, the atmosphere was still tense. Davis and Goldstein met with some other rabbis after the service who had arrived before them. These rabbis told them that they were unable to buy a meal or place to stay, the reason being the Selma residents insisted on giving the activists whatever they needed.

Davis and Goldstein also looked to find out from the other rabbis where they could get yarmulkes, as a shipment was supposed to have recently arrived. Organizers wanted Jewish demonstrators from all branches of the faith to be as clearly visible as those of other faiths to show their support and numbers. They told Davis, “It is our answer to the clerical collar.” However, Davis and Goldstein had trouble finding one. They soon learned why.

Two days earlier, five rabbis were jailed for taking part in demonstrations. After holding Sabbath behind bars Friday, they announced they would hold a  service in front of the Brown Chapel after their release on Saturday. According to the Jewish Post, “Over 600 Negroes and whites, Jewish and non-Jews joined in the impromptu havdalah services for one of the most unique of its kind in history.” According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, those in attendance, regardless of their faith, donned yarmulkes “in respectful emulation of rabbis who participated in demonstrations.” In Selma, they became known as “freedom caps.” Davis reported that “all the Civil Rights workers wanted to wear them . . . That is where all the yarmelkes went!”

Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Daily News Bulletin, March 23, 1965, accessed Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Dr. King entered the chapel at 10:45 a.m. Sunday. Davis was asked if he would represent the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. When he agreed, he was pulled up onto the platform next to King during the latter’s “magic” sermon. Davis explained:

Nothing but the word “magic” can quite describe what it is he does to so many. When King speaks, you are not an audience. You are participants. And when he finished we were ready to march.

Photo Courtesy of the Jewish Post Archive. Rabbi Davis can be seen just behind King and to his left.

The thousands of demonstrators were organized into rows with the first three rows chosen by Dr. King. Davis stated:

Before the march began a list of 20 names were read to accompany Rev. King in the first three rows, and my name was one of them. I marched proudly at the front . . .

He continued:

On the street we formed three rows of 8, locked our arms together, and started to march. Behind us the thousands began to follow.

Richmond Palladium-Item, March 22, 1965, 14, accessed Newspapers.com.

When they arrived at the infamous bridge they paused to remember those who came before them and were attacked. They continued onto the highway. The road was lined with armed National Guardsmen and five helicopters circled the group. State troopers were taking pictures of the marchers. Davis explained:

This is an Alabama form of intimidation. I kept remembering that these were the same state troopers who two weeks earlier had ridden mercilessly into a defenseless mass of people . . . We kept on marching.

The marchers passed people who “waved, wept, prayed, and shouted out words of encouragement” and others, “whites who taunted, jeered, cursed” or “stood with stark amazement at this incredible sight.” At one point they passed a car painted with hateful signs “taunting even the death of Reverend Reed.” Other signs read “Dirty communist clergy go home” and “integrationist scum stay away.”

Rabbi Davis marched for twelve hours without sitting down or eating. Unfortunately, Davis did not get to finish the march. Instead, he was called to fly to Cincinnati that night to be with his father-in-law who had been admitted to the hospital with a serious illness. When Daivs finally returned to Indianapolis, he was welcomed with a threatening phone call.

“It’ll be too late when it goes off.”

When Rabbi Davis answered his phone Monday night at 11:00, an anonymous man asked if he was “the rabbi who went to Selma.” When Davis answered affirmatively, the voice continued: “Let me check this list again . . . You are No. 2 in Indianapolis.” The implication was that Davis was the second on a hit list of activists. Davis told the caller he was calling the police, but the man replied: “It won’t do any good to call the police . . . it’ll be too late when it goes off.”

Jewish Post, March 26, 1965, 1, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles.

Police searched the house and found nothing.  But the calls continued. On Tuesday, Davis took the phone off the hook at 2 A.M. so the family could sleep. Letters arrived as well full of “unbelievable filth, ugly statements,” and intimate knowledge of his larger civil rights work.

Davis stated vaguely that he was required to take “protective measures” to protect his family. The rabbi did not expound at the time, but later his children recalled that they had a “babysitter” who carried a .45-caliber revolver under his jacket. From his statements to the press, it seems the rabbi was most hurt that the threats were possibly coming from fellow Hoosiers. He told the Jewish Post:

Monday night my life was threatened. Not in Selma. Not in Montgomery. Not in Atlanta. In Indianapolis.

“The Time Has Come to Worship with Our Lives”

Like King, Davis did not dwell on the darkness of humanity but used it as a chance to shine a light of hope on the potential of his fellow man. Just days after the threats on his family, the Jewish Post published a section of a sermon in which Davis explained why he felt called to join King in Selma. Davis stated that many people had asked him why he went. And he had trouble at first finding the right words. He liked the Christian term of “witnessing,” that is, seeing God in an event. He also liked the Hebrew term that Rabbi Abraham Herschel, who was also at Selma used: “kiddush ha-Shem,” that is, sanctifying God’s name. But in his personable manner, he ended up giving a simpler explanation to the Post:

I know now what I was doing in Selma, Alabama. I was worshiping God. I was doing it on U.S. 80, along with 6,000 others who were doing precisely the same thing, in 6,000 different ways.

Jewish Post, April 16, 1965, 27, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles.

He called others to join him. He referred to injustices that needed to still be overcome in order to unite all of humanity as a “brotherhood postponed” and tasked his followers with making sure that while such unity is delayed, it is not destroyed. The way to achieve justice was not only to pray in the traditional way, but also with actions. He wrote:

Brotherhood postponed. The time has come, and it has been a long time coming. The time has come to worship with our lives as with our lips, in the streets as in the sanctuaries. And we who dare to call God, God, must begin to learn the challenge which that word contains. “One God over all” has to mean “one brotherhood over all.”

Muncie Evening Press, April 28, 1965, 6, accessed Newspapers.com.

Rabbi Davis continued to work for civil rights in Indianapolis. He was again named honorary chairman of the NAACP. He served as a member of the Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights and on the board of the United Negro College Fund. He was president of the Indianapolis Council of Human Relations and organized the Community Action Against Poverty (sponsored by the City of Indianapolis and the President’s Commission on Equal Opportunity).

Jewish Post, January 22, 1986, 14, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles.

He never forgot his march with King. In 1986, he reflected in the pages of the Jewish Post about a first for the country:

You hear a song, or sniff an aroma, and all of a sudden you are miles and years away . . . It happens, too, with birthdays. January 20 was a very special day. The first national observance of the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. I hear them say the words, pronounce the name, and in the twinkling of an eye I am suddenly in Selma, Alabama with some 80,000 other people; Jews, and Protestants, and Catholics, and atheists, and agnostics . . . We were there because of a man whom we admired as much as we loved, and whom he loved as much as we admired. We were there because he was there. And he was there because it was right.

Notes:

The impetus for this story came from Jennie Cohen, Publisher, Jewish Post & Opinion.

Sources for Davis’s report of the march:

Rabbi Maurice Davis, “Rabbi Heschel Finds The Right Word For It,” (Indianapolis) Jewish Post, April 2, 1965, 8, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles.

Rabbi Maurice Davis, “Rabbi Davis Tells Why He Went to Selma,”(Indianapolis) Jewish Post, April 16, 1965, 22, accessed Hoosier State Chronicles.

Other sources are linked within the text.

*For more on the disappointment of some civil rights activists with King’s role in the Selma to Montgomery marches see: Deborah Gray White, Mia Bay, and Waldo E. Martin, Jr., eds., Freedom on My Mind: A HIstory of African Americans with Documents (Boston and New York: Bedford/St.Martin’s 2013), 675-6.