Celebrating Frank Wilkinson’s Life & Work

Frank Wilkinson with Martin Luther King Jr. and others May 1961

He was the Johnny Appleseed of the First Amendment, sowing the seeds of liberty  in every city of the county.

– Kit Gage, Director Emeritus, Defending Dissent Foundation

Frank touched the lives of thousands of people, from his early days as a housing activist for the Los Angeles Housing Authority, through his decades traveling the country speaking out for civil rights and civil liberties.

In celebration of Frank’s life and work, we invite you to add your comments to these using the comment section below:

Beyond his power to persuade, Frank was one of those special people, a truly courageous and fully human being, a peaceful warrior on the side of the people. When his government files – literally several hundred thousand pages – were released under the Freedom of Information Act in 1980, we learned that he had been tailed, harassed and generally messed with by the FBI for decades on the personal orders of J. Edgar Hoover. The bureau even watched an assassination plan unfold in 1964, filing reports as the scheme was being hatched. Word from the top was to let it happen.

Greg Guma

In a letter to the editor of the Los Angeles Times, Lewis S. Snow wrote:

I was horribly saddened to read of Frank Wilkinson’s passing. I had the honor of working with Frank for two decades as a graphic artist. While he had a gentle personality, he was a fierce fighter for civil rights for all people of all political persuasions. He showed no favoritism — taking on the left (Sen. Ted Kennedy) and the right (Sen. Orrin Hatch) in his zeal to protect the 1st Amendment.

In an age when principled people are few and far between, Frank stood as a beacon for those who stood their ground against the infringement of their constitutional rights. If only we had another Frank Wilkinson to lead the fight against what is happening today.