Julius Hobson Papers
Scope and Contents
The papers primarily document Julius Hobson’s activist and political activities from the early 1960s until his death in 1977. Included are materials from civil rights organizations that he headed, was involved, or helped found. In particular, the collection contains correspondence, internal memoranda, meeting minutes, financial information, newsletters, membership lists, press releases, clippings, and by laws regarding the D.C. Chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Associated Community Teams (ACT), the Washington Institute for Quality Education, the D.C. Statehood Party, and the Black United Front. Records which document Hobson’s political career as an elected member of the D.C. School Board and D.C. City Council as well as his run as the vice-presidential candidate in 1972 on the Peace Party ticket with Presidential candidate Benjamin Spock are contained in the collection. Much of the collection contains court documents and background for litigation in which Hobson was a litigant or involved, including the Hobson v. Hansen, Hobson v. Hampton, Hobson v. Wilson, and a challenge to WMAL’s FCC’s re-licensing in 1969. Of particular significance, the collection contains correspondence and documents produced from Hobson’s efforts to obtain information under the Freedom of Information Act from the FBI, the CIA, and other government agencies about their suspected surveillance of him as a civil rights activist. In addition, it also contains personal letters, taped interviews, interview transcripts, photographs, academic course outlines, political and personal memorabilia, printed materials, awards, sympathy cards, memorials, and numerous clippings. Major topics covered include racial inequality in D.C. schools, D.C. fair housing laws, federal job discrimination, D.C. statehood movement, D.C. home rule, D.C. politics, civil rights in the 1960s, the Black Power movement, and anti-Viet Nam War. The collection is divided into 21 series as follows:
Series 1: CORE Series 12: Topical Files Series 2: ACT Series 13: FOIA Request Series 3: Hobson v. Hansen Series 14: Hobson v. Wilson Series 4: Board of Education Series 15: University Teacher Series 5: WIQE Series 16: Personal Series 6: Federal Job Discrimination Series 17: Manuscripts and Interviews Series 7: Statehood Party/Home Rule Series 18: Biography Series 8: Fair Housing/Transportation Series 19: Clippings Series 9: Media Fairness Campaign Series 20: Printed Materials Series 10: Peoples Party and Peace Series 21: Photographs and oversized materials Series 11: City Council Correspondence
- Creation: 1960-1977
- Hobson, Julius W. (Person)
Language of Materials
Conditions Governing Use
Restricted items have been removed from the normal arrangement and placed in a separate box. Access to these items is only granted with permission of the donor. There are no known restrictions on the use of any of the other items in this collection.
Biographical / Historical
Julius W. Hobson (1922 77) was a civil rights leader whose political career grew out of his grass roots activism in D.C. beginning in the 1950s. In the District, he worked for equity in public school funding and fair rental housing, opposed D.C. freeways and police brutality, and was a key founder of the D.C. Statehood Party. In the national political arena, Hobson was a leader in major civil rights organizations, an early advocate of Black Power, and the Vice Presidential candidate on the People’s Party ticket with Dr. Benjamin Spock in 1972. Hobson was often described as a “gadfly” for change because during his almost 25 years of political activism he had a tireless commitment to fight battles on many fronts in order to bring about racial equality, peace, and social change.
Julius Hobson was born in Birmingham, Alabama on May 29, 1922; his own father died when he was very young. His stepfather owned a drugstore and a dry cleaning busi¬ness and his mother was a teacher and later an elementary school principal. After graduation from high school, Hobson attended Tusgekee until World War II interrupted college. Hobson served as an artillery spotter pilot in the Army during the War and was awarded three bronze stars and other medals for his 35 flying missions in Europe. After the War, he earned an engineering degree from Tuskegee Institute and then a Master’s in Economics from Howard University. At Howard, Hobson studied with some leading socialist think¬ers whose radical perspectives influenced his own analyses of political and social issues.
After college, Hobson worked first at the Library of Congress as an economic researcher and later as a social science statistical analyst with the Social Security Administration. Hobson married his first wife Carol Smith in 1947 and two children were born of this union, Julius, Jr., and Jean. In 1969, Hobson married his second wife, Tina C. Lower.
Julius Hobson’s serious commitment to civil rights and educational equity began in earnest in the early 1950's. Not long after grad¬uation from Howard and as a young parent, Hobson took an interest in efforts to desegregate schools in the District in the wake of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. He was PTA President at both Slowe Elementary (1953), a segregated Black school, and later at the newly desegregated Woodbridge Elementary School. Gradually, Hobson took larger leadership roles in ¬the community, including President of the Woodridge Civic Association (1956 1958) and Vice President of the citywide Federation of Civic Associations (1955 1957). As a member of the Federation, Hobson became chairman of the Institute on Employment, which was sponsored by the Federation as well as the Urban League and Howard's School of Social Work. In 1958 he became a member of the NAACP's Executive Committee and the chairman of the Committee on Employment and Education. In 1959 Hobson co-authored Civil Rights in the Nation's capital Report on a Decade of Progress and prepared a chapter in the book titled "The Employment and Utilization of Negro Manpower in the District of Columbia's Government and Private Enterprise." In the same year Hobson was part of a study group whose efforts led to the establishment of the Human Relations Council.
Clearly, by the close of the 1950's, Hobson was a civil rights power in the city of Washington. In 1961, leaders at the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) selected Hobson as chair of the local chapter of CORE. Within a couple of years, he became CORE’s regional director. In CORE, Hobson led campaigns of roving and unpredictable picketing at local D.C. establishments to protest job discrimination among D.C. employers, especially in the downtown area. Hobson organized almost 800 picket lines at retail stores from 1960 64, which resulted in 5,000 new jobs for Blacks, many in non traditional positions. In 1963, Hobson led a major campaign for open housing in D.C., which resulted in 500 persons demonstrating at the District Building. Eventually, District lawmakers outlawed segregated rental housing. While at CORE, he also brought greater attention to the issue of home rule by filing a lawsuit in federal court to gain home rule. As part of his national work for CORE, Hobson trained civil rights activists in non violent techniques for participation in the 1961 Freedom Rides in the Deep South and headed a contingent of marshals at the historic March on Washington in August 1963.
CORE expelled Hobson in mid-1964 ¬due to what they believed were his increasingly militant stands. After leaving CORE, Hobson founded the Associated Community Teams (ACT), a militant national organization. ACT's most promin¬ent member was Adam Clayton Powell, chair of the House of Repre¬sentatives' Education and Labor Committee. Other prominent leaders of ACT were Gloria Richardson, a fiery civil rights leader from Cambridge, Maryland; Jesse Gray, rent strike leader in Harlem; and Lawrence Landry of Chicago. ACT took the position that Black goals and aspirations were being compromised by white involvement in the Civil Rights Movement through white financial support and decision-making. ACT was on the cutting edge of what became known as the Black Power movement. It sought to disrupt the status quo through militant acts of protest. During his involvement with ACT, Hobson began referring to himself as the "spiritual father" of Stokely Carmichael, a key spokesperson for the Black Power movement at the time. Although not entirely in agreement with the Black Power movement’s philosophy and tactics, Hobson continued an association with the movement throughout his life.
In 1966, with William Kuntsler as his attorney, Hobson brought a lawsuit against Carl Hansen, the superintendent of D.C. schools and other school officials to receive educational equality for Black and poor students in District schools. The lawsuit was the culmination of several years of statisti¬cal research conducted by Hobson to support a claim of educational inequality in D.C. schools. The landmark Hobson v. Hansen case, decided ¬by Judge J. Skelly Wright in July 1967, mandated equity in school funding for Blacks and changes to a system, which tracked Black children in separate classrooms. As a result of the case, Hobson became recognized as an expert on educational equity.
In 1968, Hobson ran for his first elected office, a seat on the District's Board of Education and won. Hobson served on the Board of Education for just one year after losing his reelection bid in 1969. After his election defeat, Hobson founded WIQE with his wife Tina. The Hobsons organized WIQE in response to the May 1968 riots and dedicated its work to attaining implementation of Hobson v. Hansen. Hobson continued to push for the full implementation of Hobson v. Hansen throughout his life.
While Hobson had a very militant profile in civil rights, he worked for world peace and opposed U.S. involvement in the Viet Nam War. ¬He was active in the Anti-War movement and took part in most of the major Anti-War demonstrations, many of which were held in the District. Because of his Anti-War activities, in 1972 Benjamin Spock asked Hobson to run as his Vice Presidential running mate on the People's Party slate.
Hobson was a key early founder of the D.C. Statehood Party. The D.C. Statehood Movement had its roots in the early 1970s when a small core of statehood supporters convinced Hobson to run for non-voting delegate to Congress in the 1971 election. Walter Fauntroy defeated Hobson, but a viable new third party in D.C. was founded.
In 1974, Hobson was elected councilman at-large on the Statehood Party ticket in the first city council election in the District in over a century. As a Councilman, Hobson continued to push for local educational reform, especially while serving as chair of the Educational and Youth Affairs Committee, as well as an end to all forms of racial discrimination in the District. Hobson died in office on March 23, 1977.
Sources: The Nation, December 4, 1977; The Washington Post, March 27, 1977; Martina Pinkney Matthews, “The Politics of Julius W. Hobson, Sr.,” Ph.D dissertation, Ohio State University; An Evening to Honor Julius Hobson, 1972; William Raspberry, Julius Hobson: A Goad for Change
51 Linear feet
Series 1: CORE, 1961-1964 (1 LF) The series documents Hobson’s work in Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in the early 1960s. It contains correspondence, memoranda, minutes, financial information, bulletins, CORE’s constitution, and membership lists. It also contains information about the controversy over Hobson’s expulsion from CORE, and campaigns against police brutality, employment discrimination, and inequality in DC public schools.
Series 2: ACT, 1964-1969 ( 1 LF) The series primarily covers Hobson’s work as Chairman of Associated Community Teams (ACT) in the early 1960s. It includes correspondence, newsletters, editorials, press releases, and internal memoranda regarding ACT’s protests against police brutality and pupil tracking practices in DC The series also documents Hobson’s involvement with the Black United Front (BU) and his rising support of Black Power in the mid-1960s. Included are BU’s meeting minutes, a typewritten list of the names and circumstances surrounding Black Panthers killed in Watts, and resolutions from the “National Conference on Black Power” in 1968. Significant names mentioned include Stokely Carmichael (Chair of the Black United Front), Elijah Muhammad, Adam Clayton Powell, H. Rap Brown, Chuck Stone, Sterling Tucker, and David Eaton.
Series 3: Hobson v. Hansen, 1965-1977 (3 LF) The series primarily contains court documents for the Hobson v. Hansen case, originally filed in 1966, which challenged pupil tracking and expenditure inequities in DC public schools. Significant persons mentioned include attorney William Kunstler, plaintiffs’ attorney, and Judge Skelly Wright who ordered the DC school system to end de facto segregation in 1967. Court papers include court decisions, exhibits, depositions, interrogatories, and various motions in the U.S. District Court and U.S. Court of Appeals for DC The series also contains statistics gathered by Hobson to support the litigation, correspondence among parties involved in the case, reports, clippings, newsletters, and press releases.
Series 4: Board of Education, 1963-1971 (2.5 LF) The series includes correspondence, meeting minutes, memoranda, clippings, reports, proposals, and press releases which document Hobson’s tenure on the DC Board of Education and his general interest in education.
Series 5: WIQE, 1968-1972 (2 LF) The series contains correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, membership lists, an organizational manual, bylaws, and financial records of the Washington Institute for Quality Education (WIQE). It also contains various publications of the Institute, including The Damned Children published in 1970 that provided extensive quantitative data and tables about the education of poor and Black children in DC public schools.
Series 6: Federal Job Discrimination, 1963-1978 (3.5 LF) The series documents Hobson’s efforts to end federal job discrimination through the courts in the Hobson v. Hampton case and through Congress. It consists mostly of correspondence to Hobson from a number of federal employees who experienced job discrimination and offered their general support and/or to act as plaintiffs in lawsuits. It also includes correspondence and court pleadings from many supportive organizations such as labor unions, the NAACP, and lawyers handling federal job discrimination cases. Employee files and correspondence among officials at the U.S. Civil Service Commission, other federal agency staff, Congress, and employee complainants provide excellent documentation on instances of job discrimination. Of particular significance are letters, individual petitions to Congress, congressional testimony, and legislation relating to hearings on federal job discrimination brought by Congressmen William Ryan and Charles Diggs in 1970. Also of significance are the background for, and a copy of, Hobson’s article “Uncle Sam is a Bigot,” which appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1968.
Series 7: Statehood Party/Home Rule, 1970-1976 (1 LF) The series contains correspondence, memoranda, meeting minutes, court documents and clippings that document Hobson’s involvement in the founding of the Statehood Party and efforts to bring home rule to the District. In particular, it contains pleadings filed by Hobson and other members of the Statehood Party challenging the constitutionality of DC elections laws as well as the Hobson v. Tobriner case filed in 1966 challenging the constitutionality of the commissioner-form of government. It also includes speeches, flyers, press releases, clippings, legislation and legal research supporting both home rule and statehood in the District.
Series 8: Fair Housing/Transportation Campaigns, 1965-1972 (0.5 LF) The series documents efforts by Hobson and other civil rights leaders to end racial discrimination in the provision of housing and transportation services for District residents IT covers his efforts while at CORE to organize a bus boycott and to picket and lobby for a fair housing law. It includes press releases, political flyers, court documents, correspondence, and clippings.
Series 9: Media Fairness Campaign, 1969-1972 (0.5 LF) The series includes correspondence, a community media survey, reports, and court/FCC filings, which opposed the renewal of WMAL-TV’s FCC license in 1969. The leading plaintiff Chuck Stone and others complained that WMAL, owned by the Evening Star Broadcasting Company, did not serve the public interest because the station did not adequately address the needs of the African-American community.
Series 10: Peoples Party/Peace and Anti-War Movement, 1967-1973 (0.5 LF) The series contains correspondence among Hobson and individuals and organizations involved with the movement to stop the Vietnam War. It also contains clippings, a campaign bumper sticker, press releases, flyers, correspondence, campaign literature, congressional testimony, government documents, and party platforms in connection with the Peace Party’s 1972 Presidential campaign and efforts to stop the War. In 1972, Julius Hobson agreed to run as the Vice Presidential candidate on the ticket with Presidential candidate Dr. Benjamin Spock. Of particular significance, is correspondence among Hobson, activists at the New Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam, and members of the Black United Front, a DC-based Black Power organization, regarding the Committee’s efforts to coordinate plans for anti-war demonstrations in Washington in the fall of 1969. Correspondents include Benjamin Spock, the Reverend Doug Moore (Chair of the Black United Front), Dave Dellinger and Stewart Meacham (National Co-Chair of the Committee to End the War).
Series 11: City Council Correspondence, 1974-1977 (3.75 LF) The series consists of correspondence from Hobson’s years as a City Council member and documents his work on the Council. The majority of the correspondence is arranged alphabetically by topic or name of correspondent. Thereafter, the remaining correspondence is arranged chronologically. Important correspondents include Congressman Ronald Dellums, Congressman Charles Diggs, Delegate Walter Fauntroy, and Mayor Walter Washington.
Series 12: Topical Files, 1973-1977 (2 LF) The series consists of a variety of topical files from Hobson’s years on the City Council. It includes correspondence, a council calendar (1975-76), constituent service records, legislation, and weekly reports of the Committee on Education, Recreation and Youth Affairs (1976-77). Topics covered include the Returnable Beverage Law, police surveillance, the Committee on Education, and contributors to his campaigns.
Series 13: FOIA Request, 1969-1970; 1976-1977 (0.5 LF) The series documents Hobson’s efforts to obtain information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) from the FBI, CIA, the DC Metropolitan Police Department, and other federal agencies. Hobson sought information under the Freedom of Information Act to discover whether and to what extent investigative agencies conducted surveillance of his activities as a civil rights and peace activist. Hobson’s FOIA requests, correspondence, and the actual documents and reports produced in connection with the requests are found in the series. (See also Series 18: Biography for additional FOIA files).
Series 14: Hobson v. Wilson, 1969-1983 (3.75 LF). The series contains correspondence, clippings, court transcripts, exhibits, and court pleadings in connection with the Hobson v. Wilson case. The case was brought by the ACLU to seek damages for individuals who claimed that their civil rights were violated by illegal police and FBI surveillance in the 1960s.
Series 15: University Teacher, 1968-1975 (2 LF). The series contains correspondence, course outlines, roll books, and student papers from the course “Social Problems and the Law” which Hobson taught at American University and the Antioch Law School. Student papers are restricted.
Series 16: Personal, 1957-1977 (2.50 LF). The series contains personal awards, memorabilia, and materials regarding Hobson’s illness and death. The series is further divided into three subseries as follows:
Subseries 1: Awards and Memorabilia, 1957-1972 (0.5 LF) The subseries consists of greeting cards, campaign memorabilia, and two commemorative publications, An Evening to Honor Julius Hobson (1972) and Julius Hobson, A Goad for Change.
Subseries 2: Illness 1972-1977 (1.25 LF) The subseries contains letters of sympathy and concern from friends and associates; as well as medical files maintained during Hobson’s treatment for cancer. Most of the medical files are restricted due to privacy issues.
Subseries 3: Death, 1977-1978 (0.75 LF). The series contains condolence messages, a memorial service program, clippings, sympathy cards, and eulogies at the time of Hobson’s death in 1977.
Series 17: Manuscripts and Interviews, 1970-1974 (0.75 LF). The series includes interviews Hobson conducted with the media and certain individuals. In particular, it contains a videotape and typed transcript of an interview conducted by Marilyn Robinson for a News Channel 4 broadcast titled “Renew America: Hobson the Great Gadfly.” Also included is a transcript of an interview with David Eaton in 1974. transcript of an interview for Washington Round Table, and a manuscript for the book Black Pride Hobson co-authored with Janet Harris.
Series 18: Biography, 1961-1970 (3 LF). Most of the subjects in this series are repeated in other series. The series is arranged under issues and organizations important in Hobson’s life and appear to have been gathered for general biographical information. Topics include bankruptcy protection for the poor, equal employment opportunity, DC desegregation, DC School Board, bus rate hikes, peace, DC police, the DC freeway fight, CORE, and ACT. Items include DC school board charts, clippings, personal letters, interview transcripts, printed publications, reports, and documents produced from Hobson’s FOI requests to the FBI (see also Series 13 for other FOI files).
Series 19: Clippings, 1957-1982 (1.75 LF). The series contains clippings about Hobson’s activities and issues of concern to him. It also contains a handwritten log of clippings. The clippings are arranged chronologically.
Series 20: Printed Materials, 1922-1976 (18 LF) The series contains printed materials, including scholarly and popular journals, court opinions, published books, reprints, and government documents Hobson obtained throughout his life. The series is further divided into subseries by type of publication as follows:
Subseries 1: Periodicals, 1959-1973 (2.5 LF). Contains periodicals arranged alphabetically by title. Significant items include a 1971 edition of Freedom Ways with selections from Paul Robeson’s speeches; 1972-73 editions of Grass Roots, the newspaper of the People’s Party; a 1969 article by Hobson on bankruptcy in Government Worker News; and a 1972 edition of Women’s Strike for Peace Memo.
Subseries 2: Reports, 1961-1970, 1984 (4 LF). Contains reports from government agencies, non-profits, and individuals. Items are arranged first topically, then by author or title under the subject. The main topics under which reports are arranged include civil rights, the District of Columbia, education, job discrimination, and poverty. There are a number of reports by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and Congress leading up to and after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and on the issue of school desegregation.
Subseries 3: Court Papers, 1967-1970 (0.5 LF). Contains primarily court pleadings and decisions in the Hobson v. Hansen and Hobson v. Wilson cases. It also contains school desegregation cases in other jurisdictions.
Subseries 4: Reprints, 1946-1969 (0.5 LF). Contains reprints on the subjects of race relations, the Black Power movement, the civil rights movement, and education. Articles by Saul Alinsky, Franklin Frazier, and August Meier appear in the subseries.
Subseries 5: Books, 1922-1976 (10.5 LF). Contains published fiction and non-fiction books and a few texts of poetry. Recurring topics include Marxist politics, the African diaspora, race relations, the civil rights movement, and African-American history and literature. It also contains a number of children’s books, which appear to have been used as exhibits in a school desegregation case. A sample of authors include Eldridge Cleaver, W.E.B. DuBois, Alex Haley, Dick Gregory, C. Vann Woodward, Karl Marx, Robert Service, Kwame Nkrumah, Charles Osgood, Elijah Muhammed, Langston Hughes, John Hines, H. Rap Brown, Lewis Carroll, Che Guevera, and Joseph and Stewart Alsop. Some books are autographed either by the author, giver, or Hobson. Author or title arranges the books when no author is given.
Series 21: Photographs and oversized items, ca. 1965-1977 (4 LF). This series contains portraits or photographs of Hobson in groups at political and social events. Most of the photographs are oversized mounted enlargements but also included are standard-sized prints, snapshots, and negatives. A few oversized items such as certificates, awards, and medical x-rays and included in this series.
Tina Hobson donated The Papers of Julius Hobson to the Library in 1989 on behalf of the Hobson family.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Tina Hobson donated the papers of Julius Hobson to the Library in 1989 on behalf of the Hobson family.
Standard archival processing procedures were applied to the collection when it was originally processed in 1989.
Genre / Form
- Julius Hobson Papers
- An inventory of the Julius Hobson Papers at DC Public Library
- Finding aid prepared by Faye Haskins and Leroy Graham.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note