|John L. Cashin Jr. during his bid for elective office in 1970. Credit Wesley Swift|
Excerpt from The agitator's daughter: a memoir of four generations of one extraordinary African American family by his daughter, Georgetown University Law Professor Sheryll CashinHuntsville dentist John Cashin contemplated a third-party that would allow blacks to align with the Democratic Party in presidential elections while providing an alternative at the state and local levels.
Cashin, whose grandfather was one of the first black lawyers in the state, was born and raised in Huntsville. He was educated at Fisk University, a historically black institution in Nashville, Tennessee, and after returning from military service in Europe in 1954, he joined his father's dental practice, which he eventually took over himself. He also became active in politics, particularly with the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC), a black political league formed by the national party in an effort to bring newly registered blacks into the Democratic ranks.
During Reconstruction, Herschel V. Cashin was a radical republican legislator who championed black political enfranchisement throughout the South. His grandson, Dr. John L. Cashin, Jr., inherited that passion for social justice and formed an independent Democratic party to counter George Wallace's Dixiecrats, electing more blacks to office than in any Southern state. His "uppity" ways attracted many enemies. Twice the private plane Cashin owned and piloted was sabotaged. His dental office and boyhood home were taken by eminent domain. The IRS pursued him, as did the FBI. Ultimately his passions would lead to ruin and leave his daughter, Sheryll, wondering why he would risk so much.
Thank goodness. Because of Dr. Cashin the NDPA was able to get hundreds of African American local and state of officials elected.
The author grew up across the street from my parents' home in Huntsville, Alabama. This is a tremendously insightful book about her parents and her extended family, as well as the social revolution of which her parents were leaders. This book makes me think -- and cry.
RIP Dr Cashin, may you find the peace in Heaven that eluded you on Earth. You made this world a better place for present and future generations.