published Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Alabama civil rights leader John Cashin dies at 82

Jay Reeves

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — John Cashin, a black dentist and Alabama civil rights leader who once unsuccessfully ran for governor against George C. Wallace and saw his political organization make gains at the courthouse level, has died, his daughter said Wednesday.

Cashin was 82. Daughter Sheryll Cashin, a law professor at Georgetown University, said her father died Monday of kidney failure in a hospital in Washington, D.C., after a bout of pneumonia.

The Huntsville native received almost 15 percent of the statewide vote in 1970 as the gubernatorial nominee of the National Democratic Party of Alabama, a mostly black organization he founded as an alternative to the Alabama Democratic Party, which had used the official slogan “White Supremacy - For the Right” until 1966.

Cashin lost badly to Wallace, a segregationist who disavowed his racist views in later years. Despite Cashin’s lack of success at the state level, his group helped elect supporters at the local level and speeded up the integration of county courthouses.

Sheryll Cashin said her father financed much of the NDPA’s activities from his dental practice and personal savings. A licensed pilot, Cashin would use his airplane to fly over mostly black areas of rural west Alabama to distribute leaflets, she said.

“It was his way of showing affection for the people of the Black Belt and for debunking stereotypes about what a black person could do,” Cashin said. “He would give a ride to anyone who could mark an X and encourage his passengers to steer the plane and comprehend freedom.”

Cashin led NDPA until it closed in 1976 and financed much of its activity from his dental practice and personal savings.

Services for Cashin are planned for April 16 at First Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville. Survivors include his wife Louise White Cashin and three children.

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