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.

As the publisher and editor of the Peacemaker, John covered the scene of the 1969 A&T/ Dudley High School uprising when National Guard Troops fired upon Scott Residence Hall on A&T’s campus. Although a citywide curfew had been imposed, he was the only African American person permitted by the Greensboro Police Department to be on the streets covering the turmoil as a member of the media.

He also wrote a weekly column, The Other Side of the Tracks, and penned ’Ole Nosey. In 1972, John received the O. Henry Award for Artistic Creativity from the Greensboro chamber of Commerce. Under John’s leadership, the Peacemaker has garnered numerous journalism awards from the North Carolina Press Association and the National Newspaper Publishers Association. In 2006, John was selected to be the Samuel E. Cornish Publisher of the Year by the National Newspaper Publishers Association. Fifty-two years after the founding of the Peacemaker, the paper, located at 807 Summit Avenue, continues to publish news on issues and events vital to the African American community.

John Marshall Kilimanjaro is predeceased by his parents; a brother, Arthur Leonard Stevenson of Little Rock, Arkansas; and a daughter, Kaaren Michelle Hairston (Bob) of Jackson, Miss. He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Vickie Kilimanjaro, of the home; sister, Beatrice M. Outten; son, John Jr. of Friendway Home in Greensboro; daughters, Sybil G. Kilimanjaro (Jerry) of Greensboro; Heidi A. Kilimanjaro-Davis (Larry) of Nashville Tenn.; and Afrique I. Kilimanjaro of Greensboro; grandchildren: Tselane Price, Hillary Price, Autumn Joy Hairston, and Meredith Hairston of Jackson, Miss.; Jeremiah M. Kilimanjaro of Orlando, Fla.; Sarilda J. Kilimanjaro and Mildred J. Kilimanjaro of Greensboro; and Ian K. Davis of Nashville, Tenn. Granddog Teddy and great-granddog Charlie. A host of nieces and nephews.