Steve Roe Shares More About Jimmy George Robinson, MLK, Hosty and the Klan

I am pleased to share this wonderful research from Steve Roe; one of the authors of Pieces of the Puzzle: An Anthology.   Jimmy George Robinson was a Klansmen from the Dallas suburb of Garland.  The FBI’s James Hosty was investigating him and many researchers have touched on this character including David Wrone, Gerald McKnight and Gus Russo.  Without further adieu, here is Steve Roe’s excellent piece on Jimmy George Robinson.

In Search Of A Lost Rebel Cause

From Piccadilly to Selma, the Strange Journey of Jimmy George Robinson

Photo Credit: Alabama Department of Archives and History

As mentioned in Gayle Nix Jackson’s book, “Pieces of the Puzzle: An Anthology”, Dallas had its share of Right Wing Extremists before and after the Kennedy Assassination. For the most part, they were a very vocal minority ranging from John Birchers to dangerous, violent, extremist agitators. In no way were these splintered groups of like-minded individuals united together under one umbrella, but rather they all felt threatened by the significant historical changes happening, from the Cold War era to Civil Rights. One such individual was Jimmy George Robinson, a resident of the Dallas suburb of Garland in the early 1960’s.

Recently archival film footage of Robinson has surfaced from WBAP (NBC affiliate, Fort Worth)[1] and WFAA (ABC affiliate, Dallas).[2]

The story of Jimmy Robinson begins when Dr. Martin Luther King was invited to speak in Dallas on January 4, 1963. Dr. King on the invite of local Dallas African Americans came to speak at the Music Hall at Fair Park in support of abolishing the discriminatory voter poll tax still in effect in Texas, as well as many states in the South. Robinson, an avowed National States Right Party member, picketed outside the Music Hall in defiance of King and the NAACP. Clamoring for publicity, Robinson was interviewed by the Dallas Times Herald during the event stating “We don’t want to start a commotion. We just want to let the people know that we do not believe in what the NAACP and Martin Luther King stand for”.  

See Jimmy George Robinson demonstrating against Dr. King outside the Music Hall in Fair Park here 

Robinson went onto boast that the National States Rights Party (NSRP) had 100-200 members in the Dallas area. The National States Rights Party was founded in Birmingham, Alabama in 1958, with Chiropractor Dr. Edward Fields and Alabama attorney Jesse B. Stoner as its leaders. During the rally, an anonymous bomb threat was called in. Dallas Police detectives searched the auditorium during the rally, but it turned out to be a hoax.[3] The NSRP had the same hate ideology as the ANP; Jews, Blacks and Communists.

Photo Credit: Jack Oran, Richardson Echo, June 11, 1959 

Soon Robinson would direct his hate towards the Jews. Approximately 3 weeks after the King speech, Robinson in true KKK fashion, decided to burn a cross on the front lawn of a local Polish Jewish Holocaust survivor, Jack Oran, in the Dallas suburb of Richardson. Robinson was upset with Oran over his speeches given to local civic clubs. Arrested, Robinson paid a measly $10 fine for the infraction and was released.[4]

Jack Oran owned the Lone Star Cycle shop (Bicycles) in Richardson and was prominent in the Jewish community. Reading the local papers, Oran became disturbed over the trending movement in Dallas in far right wing causes such as General Walker, HL Hunt and others. Oran knew first hand of rightist extremism. Imprisoned by the Nazis at the Auschwitz concentration camp, he was brutally castrated by the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele. Though painful as it was, Oran began speaking about his Holocaust experience to local civic clubs. Oran boldly spoke out about the similarities of the German Nazis to the dangerous beliefs of the Right Wing movement. True to the National States Rights Party beliefs that Jews were behind all the evils of the world, and Hitler wasn’t a bad guy after all, Robinson became incensed.[5] Though Anti-Semitic remarks and prejudice were just an unwelcomed way of life for the Jewish people of Dallas, this growing underground backlash of personal threats and intimidation were no doubt was deeply disturbing.

See Jack Oran’s 1986 Holocaust interview here

Jimmy Robinson was not fazed in the least bit. His internal hatred also boiled over into his personal life. In June 1963, Robinson was arrested for assault on his wife by the Garland Police. While in jail, his wife allowed the Garland Police to search the home and his study. Outraged he contacted the FBI verbally claiming his civil rights were violated by the Garland police. In a prepared affidavit, Robinson outlined his grievance, with his age, birthplace and education (8th grade). FBI Agent James Hosty attempted to interview Robinson in person at his home initially after the call, but he was not there. Robinson’s wife, who was present at home on June 24, 1963, was interviewed. Although she left Robinson after the assault incident, she did admit to letting the Garland Police search the home. Following up on the charge, Hosty discussed the matter with the Assistant U.S. District Attorney in Dallas, and no grounds for a civil rights violation were established.

Robinson was also mentioned as picketing the Federal Building on June 11, 1963 in downtown Dallas, holding a sign reading “Send Troops to Cuba, not Alabama”. This protest was most likely in reference to the Civil Rights struggle with Alabama Governor George Wallace.[6]

 

Photo Credit: The Times (Shreveport, LA), February 10, 1961 

Years later in a sworn affidavit to the FBI, Agent Hosty stated he confused Jimmy George Robinson and Lee Harvey Oswald in a threatening unsigned letter in early November 1963, telling him to leave his wife alone. Hosty characterized Robinson as a local Dallas Klansman.[7] In a Dallas Morning News article in 1968, Robinson admitted to being a member of the National States Right Party, Dallas White Citizens Council and the Original Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. It should be noted that Roy E. Davis at one time headed up the same Klan organization.[8] On the day of the Kennedy Assassination, the Dallas Police attempted to locate Robinson, who like many right wing troublemakers became suspect in the early investigation. However, Robinson did contact the Birmingham, Alabama FBI office on November 22, 1963 at 1:28 PM by telephone and in a short message told Agent Roy Moore “Tell Doc Fields (Dr. Edward Fields NSRP) I’m in Alabama as he will be worried”. Robinson hung up promptly with Agent Moore stating the origin of the call is unknown.[9]

Still hell-bent and determined, Robinson would continue his racist activities again in Dallas. The Piccadilly Cafeteria on 1503 Commerce Street became a site of civil rights demonstrations in late May, 1964. The Piccadilly Cafeterias were a chain of restaurants throughout the south that were often targets of demonstrations over segregation practices; forbidding blacks to eat at their lunch counters. However there were many restaurants in Dallas that remained segregated, including the popular Lucas B&B restaurant on Oaklawn Street where Jack Ruby would often dine, nearby his Vegas Club. Conceived by the Kennedy administration and signed into law by the Johnson administration, the historic Civil Rights Act was finally enacted on July 2, 1964. The historic Federal law ended discriminatory practices of businesses (hotels, restaurants, retail stores, theaters, etc.) based on race, creed and color. While a lot of Dallas businesses quietly ended their segregation ways earlier, the Piccadilly Cafeteria held out till the Civil Rights Act was in place in July 1964, becoming a scene of consistent picketing and demonstrations.

David Richards, Walker shooting witness mentioned in “Pieces of the Puzzle: An Anthology”, was an eyewitness to the demonstrations in front of the Piccadilly. He described to this author: “a long line of African-Americans standing in front of the restaurant waiting to be admitted inside to eat. As each one would be rejected or barred admittance, he/she would go back to the end of the line and the next one would step up and repeat the process over again”.[10] Although there were many black demonstrators, there were also white demonstrators in support of their cause. Dallas City Police and Bill Decker’s County Deputies constantly monitored the volatile situation to maintain order.

Jimmy Robinson decided he needed to give the Piccadilly demonstrators a piece of his mind. Carrying his confederate flag, he constantly heckled the demonstrators for many days. On June 17, 1964, Robinson went a little over the line while taunting the demonstrators. Police officers arrested Robinson on the scene citing his verbal statements were disturbing the peace. Posting bond, he went to city headquarters to protest his arrest.[11] With his name in the papers again, Robinson’s reputation as a hot-headed rebel rousing cowboy, began to suffer the consequences of his actions resulting in losing his job and being kicked out of his apartment.[12]  Other than a small group of other confederate flag wielding boys, Robinson never got his big white uprising against the blacks off the ground at the Battle of Piccadilly. To Robinson’s chagrin, he would soon learn that Dallas was not in lockstep with other southern states that had significant white turn-outs against black demonstrations.

See Jimmy George Robinson counter demonstration at the Piccadilly Cafeteria here, here

See what appears to be another NSRP demonstrator (wearing Sam Brown Belt) at the Piccadilly Cafeteria here

Undaunted, and staying true to the NSRP cause, Robinson soon got himself arrested again on August 14, 1964, this time at the Dallas School Administration building. The Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) had been picketing and voicing protests over the Dallas school system integration plan. As mentioned earlier, the Dallas Schools had a working program in place to integrate its public schools, one grade at a time. With the Civil Rights Act in place, CORE members protested the slow or stalling tactics of Dallas school integration, favoring total integration at all school grade levels immediately. On August 14, 1964 in front of the Dallas School Administration building on 3700 Ross Street, Robinson decided he would bring a little more intimidation this time, to make his point. Showing up with his standard issue large confederate flag in over his shoulder and an unloaded Japanese rifle in the other, Robinson didn’t get too far. Immediately arrested by the police, he was once again charged with disturbing the peace.[13]

By now, Jimmy Robinson soon realized that he wouldn’t make a big impact in Dallas. Besides a few local demonstrations here and there, Dallas was not where the great White vs. Black race war would be fought. The good ole boy from Bonham, Texas would soon set his sights elsewhere, where the action was.

Photo Credit: The Palm Beach Post Newspaper, January 19, 1965

In his home state of Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King was continuing his efforts to get African Americans to register to vote. Suppressed by many years of Jim Crow and poll tax laws, registering African Americans to vote for the first time, was not an easy task. On January 18, 1965, Dr. King was in Selma, for a voter registration drive. By all accounts the registration at the courthouse was peaceful. Both George Lincoln Rockwell and Jimmy Robinson were seen questioning Dr. King. Rockwell requested that he be given an opportunity to speak to the black citizens and King soundly rejected it. Sensing trouble, the Selma police wasted no time in arresting Rockwell to curb off any violence. Robinson also began questioning King, but kept his distance. Later that day, Dr. King and his supporters arrived in the recently desegregated historic Hotel Albert in Selma to check in for their rooms. Weeding himself through the people in the lobby, Robinson approached Dr. King. Robinson told King that he wanted to talk to him again. Aggravated, King responded “what do you want?” Without saying a word, Robinson hauled back and landed a solid right to King’s right temple, followed by another glancing blow to King’s cheek and some missed kicks to King’s groin. By this time, Robinson was jumped by Dr. King supporters including later Georgia congressman, John R. Lewis. In the melee, the Selma police quickly arrested Robinson and dragged him out of the Hotel Albert. Dr. King was not seriously injured.[14]

Appearing before a city magistrate, Robinson was charged with two counts of assault and one count of disturbing the peace; carry a 60 day jail sentence and $100 fine. Contesting the charge, Robinson in a laughable defense plea, claimed he was pushed into Dr. King. Posting $500 bond, the NSRP segregationist went free and headed back to Birmingham. As Robinson bonded out, things in Selma began a turn for the worst in the voter registration drive. Dallas County (Alabama) Sheriff Jim Clark instructed the African Americans to stand in the alley to wait their turn to register, while whites stood outside on the sidewalk. Turmoil ensued resulting in 67 arrests.[1] Cooling his heels away from Selma in a local Birmingham bar, Robinson’s mouth got him into trouble again. Reportedly unrelated to the King affair and civil rights, Robinson was severely beaten by another white man after a heated argument and had to be transported to a local hospital.[2]

All the trouble, jail time, fines and fights seemed to be business as usual with Jimmy Robinson. As a soldier for the white supremacy movement, he found his battleground for the great race war in Alabama. Again Robinson would surface again in what would be historically known as “Bloody Sunday” in the Civil Rights struggle. Again back in Selma, Robinson was arrested again on Saturday, March 6, 1965, at the Selma Courthouse for disorderly conduct during a protest march by a group of whites voicing their support of civil rights. As was his usual custom, Robinson quickly bonded out on that charge.

In protest of a February 7th shooting and killing of a civil rights demonstrator, Jimmy Lee Jackson, by an Alabama state trooper, a march was planned from Selma to the state capitol Montgomery on Sunday, March 8th. An estimated 600 hundred marchers assembled in Selma and were led by John R. Lewis. Under orders from Governor George Wallace, state troopers and deputies were instructed to stop the march. Riding into the 600 marchers on horseback and on foot, Alabama troopers and deputies tear-gassed and beat the marchers with clubs, whips and rope, stopping their march near the Edward Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River. In the ensuing chaos, hecklers and assorted other white posse spectators joined in. Little Rock FBI agent, David Doyle, on special assignment was there taking pictures of the chaotic scene as it played out. Jimmy Robinson, who most likely took Agent Doyle as another sympathetic liberal white to the cause, grabbed the camera out of Doyle’s hand and smashed it to pieces. Struggling with the FBI agent, he held him in a tight embrace while others threatened to beat Doyle with a rubber hose. As Doyle finally escaped the posse, he went to town and filed Federal charges on Robinson.[3]

As history took its eventual course, Robinson faded from the spot light with his mounting arrests and offenses. Eventually moving back to the Dallas area, he unsuccessfully ran for state and local political offices in 1968 and into the 1970’s and became an active supporter of George Wallace. In the end, the unabashed proud segregationist faded away slowly from the spotlight as support for his racist cause dwindled into eventual obscurity.

Photo Credit: Find A Grave

[1] The Greenville News, “67 Arrested In Voter Registration At Selma”, The Wire Services article, January 20, 1965

[2] Green Bay Press-Gazette, “Negroes Claim Major Victory in Alabama”, AP News article, January 22, 1965

[3] Times Picayune, “Trooper Rout Ala. Marchers”, AP article, Rex Thomas, March 8, 1965

 

[1] The Portal to Texas History

[2] G. William Jones Film and Video Collection at SMU

[3] Watermelonkid.com, Historic Fair Park, “The Visit of Dr. Martin Luther King”, Steven Butler

[4] Dallas Morning News, “Man Fined $10 For Richardson Cross-Burning”, unknown staff writer, January 28, 1963

[5] Texas Observer, Dallas 1963, “The Night Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Came to Dallas”, Excerpt from the book Dallas 1963, Bill Minutaglio, Steven Davis

[6] FBI Internal Document, Church Committee – HSCA, FBI case report of Jimmy George Robinson Civil Rights violation, James P. Hosty, June 26, 1963, NARA RIF Number 124-10285-10078

[7] FBI Memorandum from Director FBI to Attorney General, HSCA Admin Folder – Hosty Note, Assassination of President John F. Kennedy, October 1, 1975, NARA RIF Number 124-10364-10003

[8] Dallas Morning News, “Segregationist Announces for House”, unknown staff writer, May 23, 1968

[9] Harold Weisberg Archives, Hood College, FBI Internal Document, Memo from ASAC Kyle G. Clark to SAC Dallas, Jimmy George Robinson call, November 22, 1963

[10] Op. cit. 150

[11] Dallas Morning News, “Arrest Protested By Picket”, unknown staff writer, June 18, 1964

[12] Dallas Morning News, “Marcher Says Deed Cost Job”, unknown staff writer, June 24,1964

[13] Dallas Morning News, “Dallas Police Arrest Segregationist Picket”, unknown staff writer, August 15, 1964

[14] Marysville Journal-Tribune, “King Attacked, Demonstration Label ‘Major Accomplishment’, UPI article, January 19, 1965

 

 

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