Lester Tate became the first person in 1950 to join the Los Angeles Civil Rights Congress (CRC). In 1941, Tate and four others were arrested and charged with the attempted robbery of a grocery store near Norfolk, Virginia. Tate was sentenced to a chain gang, but escaped in 1943 and moved to Los Angeles. In Los Angeles, he changed his name from Albert Lindsay Gee to Lester Tate and became active in the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers union. In 1944, Tate was arrested in Los Angeles on a minor charge and police learned he was wanted in Virginia on a fugitive warrant. The CRC, the Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers Union and other supporters waged a campaign to prevent Tate's extradition, maintaining he would be mistreated in Virginia's prison system. Their efforts succeeded when California Gov. Earl Warren refused to sign extradition papers. Tate's supporters, including more than 600 trade union members and leaders, and progressives, celebrated their victory at a banquet dinner.
Archival Collections and Reference Resources
- Charlotta Bass / California Eagle Photograph Collection (University of Southern California Libraries)
- Individuals Active in Civil Disturbances, volume 2 (Alabama Department of Archives and History)
- Rosa Parks Papers (Library of Congress)