Little-Known Black History Fact: The Kissing Case of 1958
by Erica Taylor, The Tom Joyner Morning Show
In 1958, a landmark civil rights case involving nine-year-old James Hanover Thompson and seven-year-old David “Fuzzy” Ezzelle Simpson sparked international outrage. The two boys from Monroe, North Carolina were accused of rape after being kissed on the cheek by a white girl in an innocent schoolyard game. The girl told her parents about the game, and Thompson and Simpson were hunted down with shotguns and incarcerated.
They were charged with molestation and sentenced to 10 years in reform school.
Within six days of their arrest, the boys were beaten six times. As news spread about the case nationally, pleas came from First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, but North Carolina Gov. Luther Hodges would not budge. Requests by the parents of the boys to see their children were, at first, denied. Then an English news reporter named Joyce Egginton took the mothers to the detention center to see their sons. Egginton smuggled a camera into the reunion visit and published a photo of the touching scene with international newspapers. The photo sparked riots in Europe. The North Carolina government asked the parents of the boys to sign a waver of guilt, and the parents refused. Several days later, after three months of detention, Thompson and Simpson were released without explanation.
Later, when the boys – now men – opened up about their experience in the detention center, Thompson told his family that he was sent to a psychologist every week who said “they should’ve castrated ya’ll.”
The two were left emotionally disturbed by the events. Since they were released, Thompson has been in and out of prison on various charges.