Flossie Katherine <I>Harvey</I> Bailey

Flossie Katherine Harvey Bailey

Kokomo, Howard County, Indiana, USA
Death 1 Feb 1952 (aged 56–57)
Indiana, USA
Burial Marion, Grant County, Indiana, USA
Plot B36 L20 G5
Memorial ID 105753953 · View Source
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W/O Dr. Walter Thomas Bailey

Katherine "Flossie" Bailey, was a Hoosier leader for justice and equality. She was a Marion resident, Civil Rights leader and President of the Marion branch of the Indiana NAACP. She worked tirelessly - but unfortunately unsuccessfully - with the Indiana Attorney General in an attempt to bring the racist perpetrators of the heinous 1930 Marion Indiana lynchings of Thomas Shipp (age 17) and Abram Smith (age 18) and the attempted lynching of Dr. James Cameron (age 16) to justice. However, her work did pressure the Indiana legislature to pass a strong anti-lynching bill in March 1931. The Marion lynching was the last lynching in the North and the infamous photo of the heinous event inspired a Jewish NY songwriter to write the poem which Billie Holliday used as lyrics for her haunting song "Strange Fruit".

She was born Katherine Harvey in Kokomo, Indiana in 1895. Soon she was known to everyone as Flossie. A spirited girl, Flossie was well-liked in her church and school. Her intelligence and kind heart made her a natural leader among her friends.
During the years of World War I Flossie frequently visited friends in Marion. During one of her visits, she was introduced to a new doctor who had just set up practice in Marion. Flossie’s high spirits won his heart. Soon Miss Flossie Harvey and Dr. Walter T. Bailey were husband and wife. A couple of years later Flossie gave birth to Walter Charles, the light of their lives.
Although Marion and Grant County had long been home to African-Americans and had a reputation for racial tolerance, equality had yet to be achieved. Flossie wanted more for her son and other African-Americans. She first started working to develop a Marion chapter of the NAACP in 1918. Only a few people joined in the early days but Flossie continued her efforts for racial equality.
Flossie was active in the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church where she led the Missionary Society for many years.
The Bailey home was a hub for out of town visitors. Since the Spencer Hotel refused black guests, Flossie often opened her home to state NAACP leaders. Flossie was soon recognized as a community leader at the state and national level.
In 1930, in early August, word spread through the city that 3 teen-age black boys were arrested for robbery and rape. When the robbery victim died, the atmosphere turned violent. A mob formed and milled around the jail. Flossie made phone calls and sent telegrams to the governor’s office requesting additional police protection. It was to no avail; 2 of the young men were lynched.
Flossie’s life was threatened for her efforts. She stayed true to the cause of racial equality and became more outspoken. She traveled throughout Indiana to speak to every NAACP chapter; she addressed clubs and legislative committees as well as individual members of the state legislature. Her efforts resulted in a tough new anti-lynching bill that was signed into law in March 1931 by Governor Leslie. Flossie’s efforts on behalf of racial equality were tireless. Flossie is renowned as one of the most influential civil rights leaders in Indiana.
Largely due to Mrs. Bailey’s efforts, two of the lynchers were brought to trial. The all-white, all-male jury found them not guilty.

In the early 1940s Dr. Bailey’s health began to fail after suffering a stroke. The Baileys moved to Indianapolis to live out their last years. Flossie was widowed in 1950 when Dr. Bailey died. She lived just two more years.
Flossie left a legacy of courage and determination to achieve racial equality through peaceful means.

Here is an excellent Bio of Katherine "Flossie" Bailey on The American Black Holocaust Museum website. The museum was founded by Dr. James Cameron, the survivor of the Marion lynching and the lone survivor of lynching in the US: http://abhmuseum.org/2012/01/freedoms-heros-during-jim-crow-flossie-bailey-and-the-deeters/

Link to short documentary video about the lives of Flossie and Walter Bailey by the Marion-Grant County Convention and Visitors Bureau: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LYkgBsUtW8

This bio was contributed by FAG Member - Linda #48291572

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  • Created by: LYoung
  • Added: 24 Feb 2013
  • Find a Grave Memorial 105753953
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Flossie Katherine Harvey Bailey (1895–1 Feb 1952), Find a Grave Memorial no. 105753953, citing Estates of Serenity, Marion, Grant County, Indiana, USA ; Maintained by LYoung (contributor 47144241) .