David “Pete” Glazer touched — and was touched — by Junius Kellogg. A native of Portsmouth, Virginia (he lived on Grayson Street) he devoted his life to the media, media relations and social justice.
Born in 1916, about a decade before the birth of Junius Kellogg, Glazer witnessed Portsmouth go off to war (he was himself a WWII Navy Veteran) and the “climate” that was the segregation of a society where everything was separate and unequal. He was a religious Jew, and being Jewish myself, I know full-well what that means in terms of social purpose. Jews are “instructed” to do what they can to help heal the world in whatever way they can. Glazer used his platform in the media to help.
Having gone to school in Maryland right after the Supreme Court rulings on racial discrimination, interviewing many southern Jewish WWII veterans for my last book, and having Jewish friends who grew up in the south, I also know the Jewish communities of the south were in precarious situations. They were not “officially white” nor obviously “black.” They were Jews. They got along by having to be close-knit at the same time they had to try to heal the hatreds and deep divides between opposing sides.
I firmly believe that Glazer saw his duty to try to bring Portsmouth, VA together as much as he could. He was a radio and newspaper reporter for the Portsmouth Star and most probably was still making his bones when the news of Junius Kellogg standing up to the mob was first revealed. He saw that almost overnight, Junius was elevated to celebrity status for “turning down” (Technically, this isn’t true. The police told him to go along with the gamblers and take the money to shave points) a $1,000 bribe.
In 2018 dollars, $1,000 in 1951, was the equivalent of about $9,900. For a poor black family in the south, it was a great deal of money to refuse. However, the Kellogg family was religious and close-knit. It would have been unthinkable for him to have taken such a bribe.
Glazer got the idea to have a Junius Kellogg day in May 1951. It was a huge success. More than 2,000 people showed up to celebrate. Glazer used his platform on air and in print to have the town bring Junius down to Virginia and to honor what he did. The town raised $1,000. When Junius accepted the gift, he turned around and gave it to his mom.
I can’t say if Junius and David “Pete” Glazer knew each other well. I am hopeful the two men at least shook hands in acknowledgement. Junius Kellogg Day did little to heal segregation, but at least it was a start; a chance, albeit briefly, for some to see the possibilities.
“Pete” would go on to have a nice career. After his stint in Portsmouth, first for “The Star,” and then the Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch until the late 1950s, he moved over to WGH News in Newport News until 1970. He semi-retired and went to work as press secretary for U.S. Senator William B. Spong. We should not be surprised that Spong, a Democrat, was an ardent supporter of Civil Rights legislation. Pete Glazer died in 1999 in Washington, D.C. He was 83. He was laid to rest at Gomley Chesed, a Jewish cemetery.