Disrupters & Interlopers: Golden Frinks

Golden Frinks was a Civil Rights activist, known as “the Great Agitator.” He was born in 1920 in South Carolina, moved to North Carolina as a boy, and served in the Army during World War II. Frinks’ efforts in the Civil Rights movement began in the small town of Edenton, North Carolina in 1956 when he organized a years-long campaign of demonstrations aimed at desegregation. He also worked with the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, as a field secretary from 1963 through 1977, then with the NAACP.

Current articles and online entries about Golden Frinks acknowledge openly that he remains among the lesser-known names of the Civil Rights movement. Yet, Frinks contributions were significant and included works on behalf of both African Americans and Native Americans, and his “unique style of activism wore down racist political practices.” A 2016 article about his legacy explains that “he was arrested 89 times for his activities” and that his success had foundations in his unorthodox ways:

He had his little ways. He often dressed in a gold-colored jumpsuit or dashiki with gold chains with a cross. If there was no spirit in the meeting when it was needed, Frinks was not above jumping up on a table and “acting a little crazy.” Once he let loose a coop full of chickens around an Alabama courthouse to delay a hearing. It was a tactic he may have used more than once. A North Carolina State Trooper said he was a master of highway protests.

Golden Frinks’ work for social justice in the South continued throughout his life. Though he is not as well-known today, his name appears in the latter-day Civil Rights stories of Joan Little in the 1970s and of Allen Iverson in the mid-1990s. A 2011 biography, Golden Asro Frinks: Telling the Unsung Song, is also available.

The Disrupters & Interlopers series highlights lesser-known individuals from Southern history whose actions, though unpopular or difficult, contributed to changing the old status quo. To read previous posts, click any of the links below:

James Saxon Childers

Joan Little

Will D. Campbell

Ralph McGill

Juliette Hampton Morgan

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