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NAACP Chief Alexander Dies at Age 69

April 03, 1985|Associated Press

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NAACP Chairman Kelly Alexander Sr., who survived bombings in the 1960s and stressed negotiation over confrontation in opening doors for American blacks, has died at the age of 69.

Alexander, a gruff man who was elected last year as chairman of the 400,000-member National Assn. for the Advancement of Colored People, died Tuesday night at his home after suffering stomach pains. He was with his wife at the time.

Alexander died "sitting up in a chair," his son, Alfred Alexander, 32, said. "He always said he wanted to die on his feet."

Alexander said recently that the segregation gripping the South in the late 1930s struck him not only as unjust, but absurd.

'White Side, Black Side'

"When I was a young man, I could never understand . . . why a fountain with the same water in it had a white side and a black side," he said.

Alexander joined the NAACP in 1938. That year, whites tried unsuccessfully to get their black employees to boycott his Alexander Funeral Home.

During the early 1960s, he fought quietly but effectively to integrate restaurants and hotels in Charlotte.

On Nov. 22, 1965, bombs went off in the homes of Alexander and other black leaders in Charlotte. Alexander said he survived by sheer luck.

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