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The Crawfordsville NAACP Chapter

Jack Kellerman, Satchel Burton, Will Shaw, Gabriel Murei

The local NAACP chapter in Crawfordsville, Indiana was an active, but passive force in the fight against discrimination.  It’s longevity came from dedicated individuals such as Dr. Paul T Miekle, who served as President of the chapter, and Jasmine Robinson, whom some documents have suggested to be its founder. Others documents, however, suggest it was Mary Louise Mielke, Dr. Mielke's wife, who founded the local chapter. Through our research, this discrepancy was never resolved.

The chapter was founded on September 14, 1959. Their activities ranged from bringing in guest speakers, such as Indiana University professors, for fundraiser events, to working with local business leaders in order to integrate their stores. The proceeds from these events went towards the Freedom Fund Campaign.  The Bachelor, Wabash College’s student newspaper, also noted how the local chapter helped students raise money to assist the freedom summer in Mississippi. 

The chapter also had some engagement in the community, but did not orchestrate any demonstrations or protests. This seemed to echo NAACP’s institutional change versus SNCC’s and the SCLC’s more disruptive tactics. Under Dr. Miekle’s leadership, Robinson discussed that the group was indeed active in fundraising and even helped donate clothes and other things to poor families in Mississippi. The most direct conflict the chapter engaged with was endorsing a protest march that occurred when Governor Wallace came to Crawfordsville. He came when he decided to run for President, but to what extent they were involved was unclear.

The circumstances surrounding dissolution of the local NAACP chapter are quite unclear.  There are no records of it officially ending, and nothing in the previous interviews of when and why it ended. The chapter most likely gradually dissolved. The last documented time the chapter was cited as an active institution was in the Bachelor in 1986, and there were no records that we could find that cited the chapter’s activities in the local newspaper, the Journal Review.  The chapter ran for about 25 years.

 

Wabash Sad to See Jaz Leave

"Wabash Sad to See Jaz Leave,"
the Bachelor, April 26, 1991

Jasmine Robinson was involved in the civil rights movement. She founded the local Crawfordsville’s NAACP chapter on September 14, 1959. This article explains how through the local NAACP she met Professor Paul T. Mielke, who saw great purpose in her character and helped Robinson continue her education. Through Mielke’s friendship and support, Robinson was hired at Wabash College and became the first African American to be employed at the institution on October 11, 1963. Robinson is an example of how women got involved throughout the nation, in the NAACP.  

Personal Memoir

Personal Memoir,
Paul T. Mielke Civil Rights Activities,
1962-1969

According to this memoir by Dr. Mielke, after the passage of the Indiana Civil Rights Act in 1963, the chapter had mixed success in integrating shops downtown. This was due to local businesses unwilling to integrate, as well as the 150 local African Americans who preferred to make the trip to Indianapolis for their accommodations. Other actions the chapter took to aid the movement was raising $200 for David Kendall ’66 to participate in the Freedom Summer in Mississippi.  Many individuals who participated in the Freedom Summer had to find people and organizations to subsidize their expenses, as SNCC did not pay individuals.

Speaker, Banquet Conclude Drive

"Speaker, Banquet Conclude Drive,"
the Bachelor, March 12, 1965

The local NAACP had a strong goal of raising funds to help subsidize the national NAACP organization’s activities through the Freedom Funds.  The article reflects on this annual fundraiser. The organization hosted various events; eat-ins, visiting speakers for banquets, food drives etc. to garner contributions for the fund.  The chapter raised $50 over the national committee’s goal for individual chapters. This article was centered on the final banquet of the year, and had the former president of Indianapolis’ branch and now Legislative Chairman for Indiana’s NAACP chapters.

Mielke Aids Southern Negroes

 

"Mielke Aids Southern Negroes,"
the Bachelor, April 14, 1967

According to this article, David Kendall ’66 worked in Holly Springs, Mississippi, which led to a correspondence between the Crawfordsville and Holly Springs NAACP chapters. As a result, Dr. Miekle donated his second-hand car, raised $112.32 in funds and garnered enough donated clothes to fill a 4’ x 6’ U-Haul Trailer for the needy in Holly Springs.  Local chapters collaborated frequently, especially Northern chapters raising funds, support, and resources for the South.  This happened through direct interactions of the chapters, or through the Freedom Funds that the national NAACP allocated typically to the South.

Jasmine Robinson Interview (excerpt)

Interview with
Jasmine Robinson (excerpt)
,
Wabash Oral History Project,
April 5, 1983

In this excerpt from an oral history interview, Jasmine Robinson describes her experience within the local NAACP.  Robinson donated money to the group and helped them obtain clothing articles for poor families in Mississippi. She also said that while the KKK was active in Crawfordsville, the NAACP did not host any public demonstrations in order to not “make any more news.” She also noted that within local racial conflicts, the NAACP was not directly involved. The local NAACP was active yet passive when it came to confrontation. This coincides with the national NAACP chapter’s approach to demonstrations.