Cape Cod Civil Rights Icons

Cape Cod Civil Rights Icons

Since the late 1950s there has been a significant number of people who were iconic leaders of the movement to expand civil rights on Cape Cod: Rev. Kenneth Warren, pastor of the Barnstable Unitarian Church and chair of the Council of Churches social responsibility committee; Scoba Rhodes, many years chair of the Cape Cod chapter of the NAACP; Judith Barnet, a strong advocate for integrated and affordable housing; John Reed, one of the first African-Americans recruited to teach at Barnstable High School, president of the NAACP and member of the County human rights committee; Harold Tobey, the first black president of Barnstable’s Town Council and its first black police officer.

Four people are pictured in this icon: Eugenia Fortes, Margaret Moseley, Joe and Dolores DaLuz represent the many people, black and white, men and women, those living as well as those who have passed on, who dedicated so much of their time, energy and commitment to the cause of justice on Cape Cod over the last half century.

 

Eugenia Fortes

Born on the Cape Verde Islands in 1911, she emigrated to New Bedford, MA with her mother in 1920. After high school in Harwich, she moved to Hyannis in 1928 to work for Mayda Falvey. She built her own home in 1938 on land purchased from Veda Mitchell of Mitchell’s Way where a number of black families had their homes. She was “an avid and dedicated worker in the community, especially in the area of civil rights”, according to Dolores DaLuz. She was one of the founders of the Cape Cod NAACP, served as the only black member of the Hyannis Library board of directors, and personally hosted many dignitaries who, because of their color, had difficulty finding accommodation in the tourist hotels: Marian Anderson, Justice Thurgood Marshall, and the Supremes. Once she and a friend were told to leave a segregated beach in Hyannis Port because “blacks were not wanted there.” Honoring her reputation as a civil rights activist, that beach now carries her name. She was one of the principal organizers of the town’s welcoming of the “Reverse Freedom Riders” in 1962. Until her death in 2006 she was a perpetual presence at the Town Council meetings where weekly she would represent some concern of the black community.
 

Margaret Moseley

Because of President Kennedy’s support for civil rights, the Arkansas White Citizens Council came up with an idea to embarrass Kennedy by organizing a “Reverse Freedom Ride”. The plan was to pay black families to take buses to the Kennedy summer home in Hyannis Port with the promise that he would greet them with housing and jobs. When word reached Hyannis that the buses would arrive late at night, Rev. Kenneth Warren brought together black and white members of the community to meet each bus and to offer hospitality to the newcomers. Margaret Moseley was there to arrange for immediate food and housing as the almost 100 bewildered riders arrived that rainy night in May 12, 1962. She worked to find jobs and housing for those who remained on the Cape.
 

Joe and Dolores DaLuz

The DaLuzs were active in the Cape Cod civil rights movement since their 1975 arrival in Hyannis from Delaware where Joe had graduated from Delaware State. Unable to find housing in the largely white vacation community, they helped organize a Fair Housing Committee. They became enmeshed in the NAACP which prevented the planned arrival of a Sambo’s restaurant from opening on Main Street. Because of his engineering and people skills, Joe became the Town of Barnstable’s Building Commissioner, the first black executive in town hall. In the 1970s he was elected chair of the NAACP, a position he held for many years. While Dolores was at home with their six children, she continued her involvement in NAACP by acting as office manager from their house. For 35 years she organized a Fashion Fair fund raiser for scholarships for black students. In 2015, they were honored as Grand Marshals for the Barnstable County 4th of July parade. The annual NAACP dinner carries the DaLuz Unsung Hero Award. The year after Joe’s passing in 2017, Dolores was awarded the Mercy Otis Warren “Woman of the Year” in honor of the noted Revolutionary War heroine.