In a 1947 column for The Chicago Defender, Lucius C. Harper compared Peoria’s hostile reception of singer Paul Robeson to the similarly frigid reception that anti-slavery orator Frederick Douglass received in 1882.

He condemned the “little hayseed baliwick” for “violat[ing] all the Civil Rights Laws of Illinois” and praised the few “liberal citizens” who rescued Douglass and Robeson from “the viciousness of the city.”

Harper went on to describe these protectors, noting that “Douglass found his in a white man, the famous orator, lawyer, and agnostic, Robert G. Ingersoll, and Robeson’s rescuer from the hick police force was a colored liberal, A. Jay (sic) Martin, CIO Farm Equipment Union organizer.” (Robeson’s sponsor was named Ajay Martin.)