This photo of the Men’s Civic Club was taken in the home of one of its members in 1975. Though dated after the period of Black Wide-Awake, like this photo of the Book and Garden Club, it captures several men who came to prominence in Wilson’s African-American middle class in the first half of the 20th century.
Seated (all of whom were original members depicted in the 1941 photograph of the club):
This photo, titled “An Early Picture of the Men’s Civic Club,” is in the collection of Wilson’s Freeman Round House Museum. The Civic Club was founded in 1939 to address “the problems and needs (civic, educational and recreational) of the Negroes of greater Wilson — city and county.” The photo probably dates from around 1950. I can only partially name the men depicted. Standing are an unidentified man; Episcopalian priest Rev.Robert J. Johnson; Baptist minister Rev. Fred M. Davis; and an unidentified man. Seated are Camillus L. Darden; an unidentified man; Presbyterian minister Rev. Obra J. Hawkins; and Charles Darden James.
If you can help identify any of these men, please contact me. Thank you.
“By 1939, [George K.] Butterfield and others began advocating for the creation of a more effective organization to fight for the ballot in addition to the NAACP. Joined by doctors J.F. Cowan, I.A. Shade, and D.C. Yancey, funeral home director C.L. Darden, barber shop owner William Hines and others, Butterfield helped create the Men’s Civic Club in the fall of 1939. At the second meeting the men selected their officers. Dr. B.O. Barnes was selected as president; C.L. Spellman, vice-president; M.D. Williams, secretary and C.L Darden treasurer. … The group’s primary objective was to ‘study and support all proposals that we consider beneficial to the Negroes of Wilson.’ Though interested in the benefit of the entire community, the Club specifically concerned itself with ‘the problems and needs (civic, educational and recreational) of the Negroes of greater Wilson — city and county.'”
This photograph was published in the 2 July 1976 edition of the Wilson Daily Times. Though undated, it most likely was taken at an early meeting of the Men’s Civic Club and certainly before the end of 1941, when two of the men depicted passed away.