The impact that John Marshall Kilimanjaro Sr. had on the local community during his life has become crystal clear in the wake of his death.
Kilimanjaro, a civil rights leader and community activist who founded the African-American-oriented newspaper The Carolina Peacemaker, was paid a very nice tribute by the Guilford County Board of Commissioners at the board’s Thursday, April 18 meeting.
Family members were presented with a framed resolution honoring Kilimanjaro’s life after that resolution was unanimously adopted by the board. At the meeting, the resolution was read by Commissioner Skip Alston who said he considered Kilimanjaro a mentor.
Alston also led the room in a moment of silent prayer before reading the resolution and presenting it to the family.
Kilimanjaro, who died last month at the age of 88, received his Bachelor of Arts degree, in English, from Arkansas Agricultural, Mechanical & Normal College (University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff) and he earned his Master of Arts and Doctoral degrees in Speech, Theatre Arts and English Literature from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville before he served in the US Marine Corps and the US Navy during the Korean War.
He later joined the faculty of North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University (NC A&T), where he started the school’s Speech & Theatre Arts Department and also founded The Paul Robeson Theatre.
The resolution Alston read Thursday night stated that “during his 22-year tenure of service to NC A&T State University, Dr. Kilimanjaro, Sr. sought to correct social and economic injustices faced by African-Americans through his lectures on social conscience, participation in various protests and marches throughout the country, as well as his membership in the Greensboro chapter of the NAACP.”
The resolution also stated that his “passion for community activism and dedication to knowledge led him, in collaboration with his wife, Vickie, to create The Carolina Peacemaker.”
That paper has, as the resolution pointed out, been of major importance to multicultural communities in this area and has, over the years, won numerous journalism awards from the NC Press Association and the National Newspaper Publishers Association.
Alston also reeled off a long list of honors and awards Kilimanjaro received, including The O’Henry Award for Artistic Creativity in 1972, the Governor’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2002, the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Founder’s Day Award in 2005 and The Samuel E. Cornish Publisher of the Year Award in 2006.
In the resolution, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners expressed “its appreciation and admiration for the accomplishments of Dr. John Marshall Kilimanjaro,” recognized his immense contributions to the Guilford County community, and extended the county’s “deepest condolences to the Kilimanjaro family.”