Civil Rights

Ben Gross

Ben Gross was a prominent leader of the civil rights movement in San Jose, California. He was born in 1915 in Louisiana, where he faced racial discrimination and segregation from an early age. He moved to San Jose in 1942, where he worked as a janitor at IBM and later became the first African American supervisor in the company’s history.

Gross was also active in the local NAACP chapter, where he fought for fair housing, employment, education, and voting rights for the black community. He led several campaigns and protests against racial injustice, such as the boycott of Woolworth’s store in 1960, the march on City Hall in 1963, and the lawsuit against the San Jose Unified School District in 1968. He also served as a mentor and role model for many young activists, including Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta.

Gross was widely respected and admired for his courage, integrity, and dedication to the cause of equality. He received numerous awards and honors for his work, such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Award in 1976, the NAACP Freedom Award in 1981, and the San Jose Mercury News Citizen of the Century Award in 1999. He died in 2003 at the age of 88, leaving behind a legacy of social change and inspiration for generations to come.

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