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Goodlett, Carlton B.(1914–1997) - Chronology, Serves as Publisher, Political Leader, and Mentor, Affiliates with Socialist Activities

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Born in Chipley, Florida on July 23


Earns B.A. from Howard University


Earns Ph.D. in psychology from University of California at Berkeley


Marries Willette Kilpatrick


Earns M.D. from Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee; wins rights to Sun newspaper in San Francisco, California


Moves to San Francisco and establishes medical practice; becomes co-publisher of the Reporter


Serves as president, San Francisco branch of NAACP; fights against racially discriminatory hiring practices of the city’s public transit


Merges two papers into the Sun-Reporter


Becomes sole owner of the Sun-Reporter newspaper; joins the National Newspaper Publishers Association; serves as chairman of the California Black Leadership Council


Moves medical office and newspaper office to one building on Turk Street


Runs for governor of the state of California


Divorces wife Willette Kilpatrick


Attends World Peace Conference in Stockholm; awarded the Lenin Peace Medal


Retires from medical practice


Retires as publisher of the Sun-Reporter newspaper


Dies in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on January 25

Serves as Publisher, Political Leader, and Mentor

Goodlett’s activism took him into various groups. He was a member of the Prince Hall Masons. In the 1940s, Goodlett participated in the establishment of a black club for the Democratic Party in San Francisco. From 1947 to 1949, Goodlett was the president of the San Francisco branch of the NAACP. As president of the NAACP, Goodlett spoke out against police harassment and physical abuse of African Americans. He insisted on improvements of public housing and called for an end to the discriminatory practices of the draft boards in San Francisco.

Goodlett was undeterred by controversy and unjust authority figures. In November 1947, Goodlett was arrested after being stopped by the police. The police demanded Goodlett step out of his car. Goodlett refused and was arrested. This incident earned Goodlett a reputation as a fierce agent for social change, a person unwilling to submit to harassment. In July 1959, a similar incident occurred. When detained by police, Goodlett became enraged. He was arrested and charged with swearing at the police. By 1959, Goodlett’s influence and prominence in the San Francisco area had grown and friend and assemblyman Phil Burton came to his assistance. Goodlett was released and the charges were dismissed.

In the late 1940s, before the climax of the twentieth century civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, Goodlett advocated for civil rights in an aggressive fashion In 1951, he served as chairman for the California Black Leadership Council. He organized protests of restaurants that exclusively served whites. In public speeches, he encouraged citizens in San Francisco to boycott businesses that discriminated against black people. He called for redistricting so that African Americans would be adequately represented in Congress. He insisted that elected officials recognize the rights and needs of their African American constituents. He argued that the politicians be held accountable for supporting discriminatory legislation. Following the shooting of four protesting students by National Guardsmen at Kent State University in Ohio in May 1970, Goodlett participated in a protest march. He also was opposed to the war in Vietnam and encouraged other African American leaders to speak out against the war. In the late 1970s, he criticized Jewish involvement in apartheid South Africa and was met with harsh criticism.

From the 1950s through the 1970s, with his work as publisher and activist, Goodlett became one of the most dominant African American leaders in California. As a publisher, Goodlett often used his newspaper to support candidates for political office. He played an integral role in the election of many political leaders in California. According to San Francisco district attorney Terence Hallinan, an endorsement from Carlton Goodlett was important to the election of many political leaders. Goodlett helped to inspire and promote the political careers of Mayor Willie Brown, the late Representative Phil Burton, Senator John Burton, and Representative Ron Dellums, among others.

Although Goodlett was critical of traditional politics, in 1966, he ran for governor of California. He was the first African American to run for governor of the state since Reconstruction. Goodlett argued that then-Governor Brown was “uninspiring” and neglected to consider the representation of African Americans. Goodlett’s campaign motto was, “The people are wiser—wiser than the politician thinks.” He did not win the democratic primary, receiving only a marginal number of votes. However, he continued to be active in the Democratic Party and in politics through his support of other politicians and his participation in political organizations.

Affiliates with Socialist Activities

Shortly after he moved to San Francisco, Goodlett began teaching psychology at the California Labor Schools. This position was one of many direct and indirect associations Goodlett had with socialist and communist organizations. The school was founded by the International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union, and Longshoremen were suspected of being communists. Goodlett’s association with such organizations did not present conflict for him since they appeared to be working for the rights of the disadvantaged. Moreover, as a critic of mainstream politics, alternative venues were welcomed by Goodlett. He also served on the American Committee for Protection of Foreign Born. He invited Paul Robeson to perform and W. E. B. Du Bois to speak at his church, Third Baptist. The two leaders were controversial because of their communist associations. In the 1960s, Goodlett was a member of the World Peace Council. (The World Peace Council, founded in 1949, is an organization devoted “to peace, disarmament, and global security” as well as other issues related to human rights.) The organization supposedly had communist ties. Goodlett made several trips to the Soviet Union and was critical of the U.S. foreign policy regarding the Soviet Union. In 1962, Goodlett participated in a disarmament conference in Moscow. During the 1960s and 1970s, his opposition to nuclear weapons and his participation in the World Peace Council led him to make several trips abroad to cities such as Stockholm, East Berlin, Prague, Budapest, and Copenhagen. In 1970, he led a delegation to the World Peace Conference and was awarded the Lenin Peace Medal by the Soviet Union for his efforts to support world peace and human rights. He also served as chairman of the board of trustees for the William L. Patterson Foundation. The foundation was named after an African American communist leader.

Commitment to Institutions Devoted to Education

Goodlett was active in the development of institutions devoted to helping African Americans. He helped to found the Morehouse School of Medicine. The school offers a scholarship in Dr. Goodlett’s name. He also helped establish the Black Press Archives in 1973 at Howard University’s Moorland Spingarn Research Center. This center is supported by Howard University and the National Newspaper Publishers Association. It consists of a gallery of photographs and information on African American achievements in journalism.

In 1983, Goodlett retired from his medical practice, but he remained a major voice in his community. In 1994, he retired as publisher of the Sun-Reporter . In the 1990s, his health began to decline, and he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In January 1997, he died at his son’s home in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He was survived by his son Dr. Garry M. Goodlett and five grandchildren.

On February 7, 1997, a memorial service was held to honor Carlton Goodlett Over one thousand people attended. On February 11, 1997, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi addressed Congress, paying a tribute to Carlton Goodlett. Amos Brown proposed unsuccessfully that Fillmore Street be renamed to honor Goodlett. Fillmore Street was originally named after Millard Fillmore who signed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. However, eventually a part of Polk Street was renamed Dr. Carlton Goodlett Way.

Carlton B. Goodlett dedicated his life to human progress. When he saw injustice, he was not afraid to take action and defend the disadvantaged. His achievements in medicine, journalism, education, and politics serve as examples for future generations.

Goodman, Drew and Goodman, Myra - Founders of Earthbound Farm, Career, Sidelights [next] [back] Gooding Jr., Cuba (1968–)

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