Dr. John Marshall Kilimanjaro Sr., 1930-2019
Afriquie I. Kilimanjaro | 4/4/2019, 11:22 a.m.
Dr. John Marshall Kilimanjaro (né Stevenson) Sr., professor, civil rights activist, trailblazing newspaper founder and publisher of the Carolina Peacemaker, passed away on Wednesday, March 27, 2019, at Hospice of the Piedmont in High Point, N.C. John was born on June 6, 1930, in Little Rock, Arkansas to the late Isabell Lawson Broy Stevenson, a Registered Nurse, and the late Arthur Leonard Stevenson, a Pullman Porter. He was the youngest of three children.
John’s mother, Isabell, died when he was 5 years old. He was placed at 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.
John graduated from Rust College Preparatory School in Holly Springs, Mississippi. He began his college education at Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi; while there, he was a charter member of the Rho Epsilon Chapter (1948) of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.
In 1952, John earned a B.A. in English 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, Dr. John Marshall Kilimanjaro came to Greensboro, as a “junior instructor” in the Department of English of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical College. Soon after arriving, John joined Temple Emanuel. He married Vickie Kilimanjaro on August 25, 1956, at the Temple located on Greene Street. Rabbi Fred Rypins officiated the service. John served faithfully as a religious school instructor for high school students. He also served as vice president of Temple Brotherhood and volunteered with a host of Brotherhood activities.
Throughout his life, John was always cognizant of the social injustices and the tough economic plight faced by African Americans. In 1958, John was tapped by the late Dr. Edwin Edmonds, who was chairman of the Division of Social Sciences at Bennett College and with the Wesley Foundation at A&T, 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, which was held at Pfeiffer Chapel on the campus of Bennett College.
It was during this portentous meeting that John, encouraged by Dr. King, promised to take an active part in the struggle for civil and equal rights and make an enduring contribution that would benefit his community and enhance the lives of the people of Greensboro. The realization and continuing manifestation of this pledge is the weekly newspaper, Carolina Peacemaker.
In 1967, John and wife, Vickie, founded the Carolina Peacemaker, which is the longest running weekly newspaper in Greensboro/ Guilford County. John 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.