Monday, July 05, 2010

Charles Cabbage – Former Invaders Co-Founder – Dies At 66

The Black Berets and Leather Jackets may be gone, but for former invaders Coby Smith (left) and Charles Cabbage, the past is never too far behind.

Charles Cabbage – Former Invaders Co-Founder – Dies At 66
By Tri-State Defender Newsroom | Published 07/1/2010 |

Charles Cabbage met with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel less than 90 minutes before an assassin’s bullet felled the revered civil rights leader on the balcony.

‘I tried to make things better for our people’ Charles Cabbage said in a reflection upon his involvement during the civil rights movement era. Here Cabbage (right) shares a moment with Invaders group co-founder John Burl Smith. (Photo courtesy of John Hubbell and Old Bridge Media)

Cabbage and John Burl Smith, with whom he had founded the often-descibed “radical” Invaders, said King wanted to forge an alliance as he made preparations for the Poor People’s Campaign.

That’s part of the story Cabbage helped convey through the Tri-State Defender during the 40th anniversary commemoration of Dr. King’s death. Cabbage died Thursday, June 24th after a long bout with diabetes. He was 66.

For many, the Invaders are synonymous with the “Black Monday” protests during the sanitation strike of 1968, with students encouraged to boycott classes and journey downtown to join protest marches.

In honor of Cabbage, who grew up in the Riverside Community in South Memphis and attended Carver High Schoo, the Tri-State Defender highlights the reflections he shared with the newspaper in a 2008 story under the headline, “The Invaders: real story never told.”

Charles Cabbage – in his own words

“I was a student at Morehouse College in Atlanta. It was in the middle of the civil rights movement. I was involved in the SCLC and helped to organize the city’s only black anti-war group on campus…

“When I returned home to Memphis, John Smith and I formed the Black Organizing Project (BOP). There were high school students, college students, and community organizations coming together. Out of that effort came the Invaders.

“To say that we were militants is to limit our purpose. We tried to plan various strategies to see changes come about. Yes, we were revolutionary – young, black revolutionary men…

“In addition to that last meeting, two others with Dr. King also took place…He wanted to solve some problems in his own organization and we were looking at how we could join forces and help one another…

“When he was murdered, it was devastating. How do you prepare for something like that? We had no way of gaining access to the press. We had no power. And the federal government was after us. They knew who we were and had orders to shoot to kill on sight.

“I left Memphis and went to different cities, worked in different places for a while, but I returned home to Memphis eventually. Today, I have grandchildren, and I can tell them how things were and how I tried to make things better for our people.”

N.J. Ford & Sons Funeral Home has charge.

 W.E. A.L.L. B.E. Radio: Dr.Coby Smith, Civil Rights Legend & Memphis Invader Speaks

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