WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and John Kennedy (R-LA) will introduce legislation designating a post office in Mansfield for Dr. C.O. Simpkins, Sr., a lifelong Louisianan, veteran, and civil rights icon.
“Dr. Simpkins was a civil rights icon not only for Louisiana but for the entire nation during the civil rights movement,” said Dr. Cassidy. “He dedicated his life to fighting for freedom for all Americans, and we are honored to pay tribute to Dr. Simpkins through this designation.”
“Our state and this country will remember Dr. C. O. Simpkins as a skilled dentist, service member, and warrior for what’s right. I’m proud to support naming this U.S. post office in honor of him,” said Senator Kennedy.
Dr. Simpkins was born and raised in Mansfield, and he attended Wiley College and Tennessee State University for his undergraduate studies before earning a degree in dentistry from Meharry Medical College. He joined the U.S. Air Force after completing his education and achieved the rank of Captain before being honorably discharged. Following his military service, he returned to Shreveport to open a dental practice.
Dr. Simpkins became involved in the civil rights movement during his time in Shreveport and was a personal friend of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. Simpkins invited Dr. King to speak in Shreveport in 1958 at Galilee Baptist Church despite fears that violence would break out.
In 1960, Dr. Simpkins was one of the founders of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
During the height of the civil rights movement, Dr. Simpkins’ family home and office were firebombed. He was also featured on a death list circulated by local racist organizations. Fearing for his safety, Dr. Simpkins moved to New York where he continued to advocate for civil rights.
Dr. Simpkins returned to Shreveport after living in New York for 26 years. He reopened his dental practice and pursued a career in politics. He served one term in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1992 to 1996. Dr. Simpkins retired from dentistry in 2011 and passed away on December 4, 2019.