Looking Back: A race-based trial and a new church to offer a safe haven

From Muskegon Chronicle:

downloadedfileThis week 87 years ago…

John Richardson’s trial and the early days of Beulah Baptist Church offer a glimpse at racism and how area churches offered a sanctuary from racial oppression that still persists to some degree today.

The Muskegon Chronicle said on Dec. 12, 1923

Circuit Judge Vanderwerp today ruled in the trial of John Richardson, a black, that the question of membership in the Ku Klux Klan was a proper one to ask a prospective juror. The point came up when Vernon Nash of Muskegon, a member of the regular jury panel, appealed to the court after he had been asked if he was a member of the Klan.

“Is it necessary to answer the question?” Nash asked the court.

“I feel it is a proper question,” said the court. “Do you desire not to answer it?”

Nash then said that he was not a member of the Klan. Later he was excused by the attorney for the defense.


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