Dr. John Marshall Kilimanjaro Sr., remembered for his contributions to civil rights
By Afriquie I. Kilimanjaro and Crusader Staff
Black publishers from around the country gathered in Greensboro, North Carolina on March 29 to pay their final respects to Carolina Peacemaker Publisher, Dr. John Marshall Kilimanjaro. A titan in the Black Press and a civil rights champion, Kilimanjaro died March 27 at Hospice of the Piedmont in High Point, NC.
Dr. Kilimanjaro and his wife Vickie founded the Carolina Peacemaker in 1967. It is the longest running weekly newspaper in Greensboro/Guilford County. He sought to provide a publication that would tell the stories majority media systematically ignored. The paper’s first offices were located on Gorrell Street in Greensboro.
Kilimanjaro was born June 6, 1930, in Little Rock, Arkansas to Isabell Lawson Broy Stevenson, a registered nurse, and Arthur Leonard Stevenson, a Pullman Porter. He was the youngest of three children.
His mother Isabell died when he was five-years old. He was placed at the Sager Brown Orphanage in Baldwin, Louisiana, where he continued to hone his piano skills. He was raised by his aunts Ruth Stevenson Lundy, Beatrice Broy Josey and Sarilda Phillips.
Kilimanjaro graduated from Rust College Preparatory School in Holly Springs, Mississippi. He began his college education at Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi; he was a charter member of the Rho Epsilon Chapter (1948) of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.
He earned a B.A. in English in 1952 from Arkansas A.M. & N. College (today, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff). He was one of approximately seven African-American graduate students to attend classes at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, where he earned a Master of Arts and a doctoral degree in Speech, Theatre Arts and English Literature (1956, 1965).
He served in the United States Marine Corps in Europe and the United States Navy as a Naval Hospital Corpsman during the Korean War.
In 1955, Kilimanjaro came to Greensboro as a “junior instructor” in the Department of English of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical College. Soon after arriving, he joined Temple Emanuel. He married Vickie Kilimanjaro in August 1956, at the Temple, on Greene Street. He served as a religious school instructor for high school students and was also vice president of Temple Brotherhood and volunteered with a host of Brotherhood activities.
Always cognizant of the social injustices and the tough economic plight faced by African Americans, in 1958 he was tapped to become the secretary of the Greensboro NAACP. Today, he is a double life member.
In 1958, Dr. Edmonds, a former classmate with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Boston University, convinced King to give a speech in Greensboro. Kilimanjaro along with several other Greensboro notables helped arrange the gathering, held at Pfeiffer Chapel on the campus of Bennett College.
During his portentous meeting of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Kilimanjaro, encouraged by Dr. King, promised to take an active part in the struggle for civil and equal rights, and to make an enduring contribution that would benefit his community and enhance the lives of the people of Greensboro.
The realization and continuing manifestation of that pledge is the weekly newspaper, the Carolina Peacemaker.