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Womens Studies 222

Winterim 2014
Septima Poinsette Clark (1898-1987)
Septima Clark is considered the Teacher to the Movement She was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on
May 3, 1898, and was the second of eight children. In 1916 she finished 12th grade and, unable financially to
attend Fisk University as her teachers had hoped and, as an African American, forbidden to teach in the
Charleston public schools at that time, Poinsette took the state examination that would permit her to teach in
rural areas. Her first job was on John's Island, South Carolina. The racial inequity of teachers' salaries and
facilities she experienced while there motivated her to become an advocate for change.
Clark left John's Island in 1919 in order to teach and to campaign for a law allowing black teachers in the
Charleston public schools. The same year that the law was passed (1920), Septima Poinsette married Nerie
Clark, a navy cook. The marriage ended five years later when Nerie Clark died of kidney failure. The couple had
two children; one died in infancy. Clark returned to teaching on John's Island until 1927, when she moved to
Columbia, South Carolina. There she continued to teach and to pursue her own education, studying during
summers at Columbia University in New York City and with W.E.B. Du Bois at Atlanta University in Georgia. She
received a bachelor's degree from Benedict College in 1942 and a master's degree from Hampton Institute in
1945. During this time she was also active in several social and civic organizations, among them the National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) with whom she campaigned, along with attorney
Thurgood Marshall, for equal pay for black teachers in Columbia. In an effort to diminish the effectiveness of the
NAACP, the South Carolina state legislature banned state employees from being associated with civil rights
organizations, and in 1956 Clark was forced to leave South Carolina for a job in Tennessee when she refused to
withdraw her membership from the NAACP.
In Tennessee she helped found citizenship schools that were designed to achieve literacy and political
empowerment within the black community. Clark joined the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC)
in 1961 as director of education and teaching. In 1962 the SCLC joined with other organizations to form the
Voter Education Project, which served to train teachers for citizenship schools and assisted in increased voter
registration among African Americans. A decade later the first African Americans since Reconstruction were
elected to the U.S. Congress.
After Clark retired from active SCLC work in 1970, she fought and won reinstatement of the teaching pension
and back pay that had been canceled when she was dismissed in 1956. She later served two terms on the
Charleston County School Board. In 1979 Clark received a Living Legacy Award from U.S. President Jimmy
Carter. She died on John's Island, South Carolina, on December 15, 1987.


Ella Jo Baker (1903-1986)
Ella Jo Baker was born on December 13, 1903, in Norfolk, Virginia. She developed a sense for social justice early in her life. As a girl
growing up in North Carolina, Baker listened to her grandmother tell stories about slave revolts. As a slave, her grandmother had been
whipped for refusing to marry a man chosen for her by the slave owner.

Ella Baker Center honors Ella's legacy of building justice and peace through grassroots action:

Books Not Bars fights to redirect California's resources away from youth incarceration and towards youth opportunities.

Green Collar Job Campaign works to ensure that the emerging green economy is strong enough to lift people out of poverty.

Soul of the City is our hands-on, hands-together campaign to create an Oakland that is safe, healthy, and balanced.

Baker studied at Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina. As a student she challenged school policies that she thought were unfair.
After graduating in 1927 as class valedictorian, she moved to New York City and began joining social activist organizations. In 1930, she
joined the Young Negroes Cooperative League, whose purpose was to develop black economic power through collective planning. She
also involved herself with several women's organizations.

Ella Baker began her involvement with the NAACP in 1940. She worked as a field secretary and then served as director of branches
from 1943 until 1946. Inspired by the historic bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, Baker co-founded the organization In
Friendship to raise money to fight against Jim Crow Laws in the deep South. In 1957, Baker moved to Atlanta to help organize Martin
Luther King's new organization, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). She also ran a voter registration campaign
called the Crusade for Citizenship.
On February 1, 1960, a group of black college students from North Carolina A&T University refused to leave a Woolworth's lunch
counter in Greensboro, North Carolina where they had been denied service. Baker left the SCLC after the Greensboro sit-ins. She
wanted to assist the new student activists and organized a meeting at Shaw University for the student leaders of the sit-ins in April
1960. From that meeting, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee -- SNCC -- was born.
Adopting the Gandhian theory of nonviolent direct action, SNCC members joined with activists from the Congress of Racial Equality
(CORE) to organize in the 1961 Freedom Rides. In 1964 SNCC helped create Freedom Summer, an effort to focus national attention
on Mississippi's racism and to register black voters. With Ella Bakers guidance and encouragement, SNCC became one of the foremost
advocates for human rights in the country. Her influence was reflected in the nickname she acquired: Fundi, a Swahili word meaning a
person who teaches a craft to the next generation. Baker continued to be a respected and influential leader in the fight for human and
civil rights until her death on December 13, 1986, her 83rd birthday.
Virginia Foster Durr (1903-1999)
Virginia Foster Durr was born near Birmingham in 1903, her long life bridged the post-Civil War era to the American Civil
Rights Movement. The granddaughter of a former slave holder, she became an ostracized anti-racist convert. Her
amazing life of determined tenacity testifies to the ability of an individual to be transformed by observation, experience,
and basic sense of right and wrong from an unquestioning racist to a courageous activist, organizer, and leader for social
Durr grew up in Birmingham early in the 20th century in a closely knit family. Her family attended Ku Klux Klan parades
and taught her that the KKK were protectors of Southern womanhood. As a young woman, she attended Wellesley
College. In her Sophomore year, she faced the difficult choice of either agreeing to eat at the same table as a Black
student or leaving school. She chose to stay at school, which she considered a great intellectual and enriching experience.
Due to a family financial crisis in 1923, she was forced to leave Wellesley and returned to Birmingham, Alabama, where
she met her future husband, Alabama attorney and Rhodes Scholar, Clifford Durr. They married and in 1933 moved to
DC and both became avid New Dealers. In Washington, her political consciousness grew and she became very active
through Mrs Roosevelt and the Democratic Womens groups in organizing to eliminating the poll tax, which prevented
poor people, most women and Blacks from voting.
In 1938, Virginia Durr became a founding member of the Southern Conference on Human Welfare (SCHW), which
became the main vehicle for her fight against the poll tax. SCHW also worked to bring together disparate liberal groups
in the South to end violence against labor organizations and to work toward integration. As a founder of this organization
and as a member of a variety of other organization like and the Southern Conference Educational Fund (SCEF), she
challenged White privilege. She worked closely with friends like Eleanor Roosevelt, Ella Baker , Mary McCloud Bethune
to courageously challenge the racist social, economic, and political attitudes on a community and national level.
Her opposition to all Jim Crows segregation laws caused her to be castigated, denounced, and shunned by a large
segment of the white community in Montgomery Birmingham. Neither she, nor her husband, Clifford, was deterred from
their determined work to erode institutionalized racism and civil liberties.
The Durrs supported the Highland Folk School, and got a scholarship for Mrs Parks which provided her with an
experience that would lead to the Montgomery bus boycott. Years later in December, 1955, it was the Durrs who bailed
their long-time friend, Rosa Parks out of jail after she was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white man.
Because of their anti-racist work, the Durrs were hounded by the FBI. Virginia was even accused of being a communist
and called before a Congressional committee chaired by Senator Jim Eastland, who believed everyone in the Civil Rights
Movement was a communist. As the senator tried to interrogate Virginia, she stood silent and in Southern belle fashion,
she defiantly began to powder her nose.
Durr provided White Southern women, as well as all White women, with an important role model and helped imbue
them with the courage to step from behind old barriers of ignorance and racial bigotry onto a path illuminated by freedom
leading toward democratic justice.

Thomasina Johnson Norford (1908-2002)
Served as the Director of the AKA Non-Partisan Council.
Stepped down in 1946 to become the Chief of the Division of Minority Affairs for the U.S.
Employment Service. This was one of the highest positions held by a black woman in the
federal government. Later that year, she chaired a forum devoted to The Role of Club
Women in the Field of Legislation.
Lobbyist, Capitol Hill, Washington, D. C. Active in desegregating the WAVES and the D. C.
unit, U. S. Employment Service. She was a long-time activist with the Alpha Kappa Alpha
sorority's lobbying project, advocating the interests of Black people on Capitol Hill during
the 1940s. She was involved in lobbying efforts for antidiscrimination amendments and
against Jim Crow laws banning Black women from the female branches of the
armed forces and Blacks in general from public health care and educational facilities and
jobs. She used operating approaches and action strategies, including her tactic of getting
Black professionals to provide expert testimony on bills pending before Congress.
She held the role as head of Black Women Democrats for FDR during his reelection
campaign, and her later position as chief of the minority groups section in the Department
of Labor (the highest ranking Black woman in federal government at that time). She also
worked in the sit-in/picketing movement among Howard University students, National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) youth groups, and the
Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) in Washington, DC, during the 1940s.
Pauli Murray (1910-1985)
The Reverend Doctor Pauli Murray, poet, lawyer, writer, teacher, civil rights activist, and priest was born in
Baltimore, Maryland. Murray was the granddaughter of a slave and great-granddaughter of a slave owner. She
would have been a life-long resident of Maryland, but accidents of fate intervened. Murray was one of six children
and as a young child, her father developed a serious illness. When her mother died, the family was split up. Murray
went to live with her maternal aunt and grandparents in Durham, North Carolina. Growing up in the "colored"
section of Durham, she rebelled against the segregation that was an accepted fact of life and refused to attend a
segregated southern college. Upon applying to Hunter College in New York, she was both disheartened and
motivated when she was rejected for admission. Determined to gain entry, she attended high school for a year in
New York where she was the only Black among 4,000 students.
Ten years after leaving Durham and with a Hunter College degree, she fought for admission to the graduate school
of the University of North Carolina - a school originally funded by her own slave-owning ancestors. Murray was
denied admission on the basis of race. She applied to Harvard Law School for graduate study, but was rejected
because of her sex. She felt compelled to start a letter-writing campaign which put the Dean, the faculty, and the
Harvard Corporation to shame. As she learned from personal experience, "One person plus one typewriter
constitutes a movement."
Several years later, she entered Howard University Law School with the intention of destroying the Jim Crow laws,
but came up against their cousin, the "Jane Crow regulations". In 1943, employing one of the earliest uses of non-
violent tactics, she and a group of women students from Howard University successfully organized the first sit-in
demonstration resulting in the desegregation of a cafeteria in Washington, D.C.
Murray's first book, "State's Laws on Race and Color", was published in 1951, and became an invaluable reference
for civil rights lawyers. After publishing several books and poems she moved beyond published works. Her letter-
writing campaign to the White House challenging the Roosevelt Administration on domestic policies led to a long-
lasting friendship and professional relationship with Eleanor Roosevelt.
In many ways, Murray was an extraordinary woman. At the age of 62, she decided to become an Episcopal priest.
In 1978, Murray was ordained in Washington, after a year of training as a special student at the General
Theological Seminary in New York and after the Episcopal Church decided to admit women to the priesthood, .
She became the first Black woman and one of the first women to be ordained in the Episcopal Church.
In 1966, Murray was co-founded the National Organization for Women and served on the national board of the
American Civil Liberties Union.

Johnnie Carr (1911-2008)
On December 1, 1955, African-Americans in Montgomery, Alabama, started a boycott of the city's racially segregated bus
system. A young preacher, Martin Luther King, was chosen as leader of the Montgomery Improvement Association which
directed the boycott. The boycott would last a year, it would lead to the desegregation of the bus system, and it would launch
Martin Luther King to leadership of a national civil rights movement.
It is well known that Rosa Parks sparked the boycott, when she was arrested for refusing to give her seat up for a white
passenger. Less well known is that a group of women had prepared for a boycott, organized the boycott, supervised much of
the practical leadership of the boycott, and continued to press for civil rights in Montgomery long after the boycott was over.
One of those women was Johnnie Carr, who succeeded King as leader of the Montgomery Improvement Association and held
the post to her death, aged 97.
Born in 1911, Carr lived her whole life in Montgomery. She was fortunate to attend a new school for black girls. The school was
owned and run by white teachers from Northern states. One of her school friends was Rosa Parks.
In 1946, Carr helped to found a women's political council - a group of black professional women dedicated to improving the
status of the city's black community. The council ran citizenship classes for African-Americans that explained their constitutional
rights. The women also lobbied white leaders to demand better treatment for the black community. In 1954 and 1955, the
council met the mayor and bus officials six times to complain about the abusive behavior of white bus drivers. When the mayor
rebuffed their demands, the women threatened to boycott the buses.
Thus when Parks was arrested, the women's council was ready to act. It printed leaflets calling for a boycott, and passed them
to friends to distribute. Johnnie Carr arranged for five volunteers to help to hand out leaflets in her neighborhood.
The women's council had long been pressing for black women's rights. But the Women's Council recognized that men would
need to be the formal leaders. As Carr put it later, Women were considered secretaries, anything but a president. And that is
just how society was, you couldn't get away from it. I think we just accepted the servant role and done what we could because
we felt like togetherness was the point.
Even so, the women's council ran much of the day-to-day business of the boycott. This was unheralded work, but vital to the
longevity of the action - which took white city leaders by surprise. Carr and others catered for the regular mass meetings and
demonstrations. We really had to work hard because we had to get people to give food and get people to prepare food. Carr
also chaired the boycott's welfare committee, which tried to meet the financial needs of those who lost their job or welfare
payments on account of their support for the action.
After King left for Atlanta in 1960, the Montgomery Improvement Association seemed set to fold. Carr helped to revive it, and
she succeeded King as leader. As she had before the boycott, she worked to improve the lives of the local black community. She
helped to lead the campaign to integrate the city's public schools. Her son, Arlam, was the named plaintiff in a successful legal
She was one of the main speakers at the 50th anniversary commemoration of Parks's refusal to give up her bus seat, speaking to
thousands of schoolchildren who marched to the Capitol. She told the children: Look back, but march forward. We can go
forward for the thing that Rosa Parks started when she refused to give up her seat. Shortly before her death, she spoke at
Martin Luther King Day annual parade in Montgomery.

Jo Ann Gibson Robinson (1912-1992)
Jo Ann Gibson Robinson was a civil rights activist and educator.

From near Culloden, Georgia, she was the youngest of twelve children. Educated in the segregated public schools of
Macon and then at Fort Valley State College, Gibson became a public school teacher in Macon, where she was briefly
married to Wilbur Robinson. Their one child died in infancy. She left Macon after five years of teaching and went to
Atlanta, where she earned an M.A. in English at Atlanta University. In the fall of 1949, after teaching one year at Mary Allen
College in Crockett, Texas, Robinson accepted a position at Alabama State College.

She was a professor of English at Alabama State throughout the bus boycott. In Montgomery she joined both the Dexter
Avenue Baptist Church and the Womans Political Council, (WPC) which had been founded three years earlier by another
Alabama State English professor, Mary Fair Burks. Near the end of 1949, Robinson (while boarding a public bus) was
humiliated by an abusive and racist Montgomery City Lines bus driver, and she set out to use the WPC to target racial
seating practices on Montgomery buses.

In May 1954, more than eighteen months before the arrest of Rosa Parks but just several days after news of the U.S.
Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision began to sweep the country, Robinson wrote to Montgomery's
mayor as WPC president, gently threatening a Black boycott of city buses if abuses were not curtailed. Following Rosa
Parks arrest in December 1955, Robinson played a central role in the start of the protest by producing the leaflets that
spread word of the boycott among the Black citizens of Montgomery.
She became one of the most active board members of the Montgomery Improvement Association, but she remained out
of the limelight in order to protect her teaching position at Alabama State as well as those of her colleagues. In 1960,
Robinson left Alabama State (and Montgomery), as did other activist faculty members. After teaching one year at
Grambling College Robinson moved to Los Angeles, where she taught English in the public schools until her retirement in
1976 and where she was active in a number of women's community groups. Robinson's health suffered a serious decline
just as her memoir, The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It, was published in 1987.

She was honored by a 1989 publication prize given by the Southern Association for Women Historians. Jo Ann Gibson
Robinson died in 1992.
Dorothy Height (1912-)
After college, Dorothy Height worked as a teacher in the Brownsville Community Center, Brooklyn, New York.
She was active in the United Christian Youth Movement after its founding in 1935.
In 1938, Dorothy Height was one of ten young people selected to help Eleanor Roosevelt plan a World Youth
Conference. Through Eleanor Roosevelt, she met Mary McLeod Bethune and became involved in the National
Council of Negro Women.
Also in 1938, Dorothy Height was hired by the YWCA. She worked for better working conditions for black
domestic workers, leading to her election to YWCA national leadership. In her professional service with the
YWCA, she was assistant director of the Emma Ransom House in Harlem, and later executive director of the
Phillis Wheatley House in Washington, DC.
Dorothy Height became national president of Delta Sigma Theta in 1947, after serving for three years as vice
In 1957, Dorothy Height's term as president of Delta Sigma Theta expired, and she was selected as the president
of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women, an organization of organizations. Always as a volunteer, she
led NCNW through the civil rights years and into self-help assistance programs in the 1970s and 1980s. She built
up the organization's credibility and fund-raising capacity such that it was able to attract large grants and
therefore undertake major projects. She also helped establish a national headquarters building for NCNW.
She was also able to influence the YWCA to be involved in civil rights beginning in the 1960s, and worked within
the YWCA to desegregate all levels of the organization.
Height was one of the few women to participate at the highest levels of the civil rights movement, with such
others as A. Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King, jr., and Whitney Young. At the 1963 March on Washington,
she was on the platform when Dr. King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech.
Dorothy Height traveled extensively in her various positions, including to India, where she taught for several
months, to Haiti, to England. She served on many commissions and boards connected with women's and civil
"We are not a problem people; we are a people with problems. We have historic strengths; we have survived
because of family." - Dorothy Height In 1986, Dorothy Height became convinced that negative images of black
family life was a significant problem, and to address the problem, she founded the annual Black Family Reunion,
an annual national festival.
In 1994, President Bill Clinton presented Height with the Medal of Freedom. When Dorothy Height retired from
the presidency of the NCNW, she remained chair and president emerita.
Annie Devine (1912-2000)
A Mississippi civil rights activist. Devine participated in the Freedom Summer
Project, Mississippi, 1964. She attended the 1964 Democratic National
Convention in Atlantic City along with Victoria Gray-Adams and Fannie Lou
Hamer. Their objective was to unseat their state's all-white delegation and be
recognized as delegates of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, of
which Mrs. Devine was a founder...Their effort, called the Mississippi
Challenge, failed in the short run, but led to a nationwide lobbying drive by
the Mississippi Freedom Democrats and calls for Congressional
investigations into voting in Mississippi. Thus, the three women's resolve fed
into the groundswell that produced the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Mrs. Annie Devine, Fannie Lou Hamer and Victoria Gray Adams, were co-
founders of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party whose objective was
to be recognized as delegates at the 1964 Democratic Convention. Their
mission was to unseat congressmen from Mississippi who they claimed were
elected illegally because of discriminatory voting practices.

They became the first black women to be seated on the Floor of the House
of Representatives.

Annie Devine was from Canton, Mississippi and graduated from Tougaloo
College. She is featured
in "Standing On My Sisters Shoulders."

Sources: and
Rosa McCauley Parks (1913-2005)
Rosa McCauley grew up in Montgomery, Alabama and attended the all-Black Alabama State
College. Rosa and her husband Raymond Parks were active in Montgomery's chapter of the
NAACP. She worked as the chapter's youth adviser; on voter registration drives and was
secretary of the NAACPs Montgomery branch in 1943. As the 1950s began, the segregated
seating policies on public buses were growing as a source of resentment and bitterness within
the Black community in Montgomery.

Blacks were required to pay their fares at the front of the bus, and then board again through the
back door. The white bus drivers would harass Blacks, sometimes driving away before they were
able to get back on the bus. On December 1, 1955, Parks took her seat in the front of the
"colored section". When the driver asked Parks and three other Black riders to give up their
seats to whites, Parks refused and was arrested; she soon agreed to let the NAACP provide
legal council. Rosa Parks' case was filed in United States District Court, which ruled in her favor,
declaring segregated seating on buses unconstitutional, a decision later upheld by the U.S.
Supreme Court.

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks was more than an inadvertent symbol; she was an experienced
activist with strong beliefs. whose arrest for refusing to give up her seat on a bus set in motion
the turning point in the African-American battle for civil rights. Parks and her husband relocated
to Detroit in 1957, where in time, Congressman John Conyers hired her as an administrative
assistant, a position she held until 1987.

Rosa Parks, a committed activist died on October 24, 2005. On October 30th, and 31st of that
year, she became the first woman to lie in honor in the vast circular room under the Capitol
dome. By voice vote the House agreed to the action "so that the citizens of the United States
may pay their last respects to this great American."

Daisy Lee Gatson Bates (1914-1999)
Daisy Bates was born on November 11, 1914 in Huttig, Union County, Arkansas. Bates mother was killed while resisting
the sexual advances of three local white men. Her father left the family shortly after her mother's death and she was
raised by friends of the family.

In 1952 Daisy Bates was elected president of the Arkansas State Conference of NAACP branches.

Bates and her husband L.C. Bates were important figures in the Little Rock Integration Crisis in 1957. The Bates published
a local black newspaper, the Arkansas State Press, which publicized violations of the US Supreme Court desegregation

Bates guided and advised the nine students, known as the Little Rock Nine, when they attempted to enroll at Little Rock
Central High School in 1957. The students attempts to enroll provoked a confrontation with Arkansas Governor Orval
Faubus who called out the National Guard to prevent the students from enrolling.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower intervened by federalizing the Arkansas National Guard and dispatching the 101st
Airborne Division to Little Rock to ensure that the court orders were enforced.

Their involvement in the Little Rock Crisis resulted in the loss of much advertising revenue to their newspaper and it was
forced to close in 1959. In 1960 Daisy Bates moved to New York City and wrote her memoir, The Long Shadow of Little
Rock, which won a 1988 National Book Award.

Bates moved to Washington, D.C. and worked for the Democratic National Committee. She also served in the
administration of President Lyndon Baines Johnson on anti-poverty programs. In 1965 she suffered a stroke and returned
to Little Rock.

In 1968 she moved to the rural black community of Mitchellville, Desha County, Arkansas. She concentrated on improving
the lives of her neighbors by establishing a self-help program which was responsible for new sewer systems, paved streets,
a water system, and community center.

Bates revived the Arkansas State Press in the 1980s.

Daisy Bates died in Little Rock, Arkansas on 4 November 1999. The 3rd Monday in February has been established as an
official state holiday in her honor. The street that runs in front of Little Rock Central High School has been renamed for

Bernice Robinson (1914-1994)
Bernice Robinson was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 7, 1914. The day she was born was the first time it
had snowed in Charleston for over a hundred years. Bernice brought the snow to Charleston--or so her mother believed--,
and this meant that she was going to spend her life disturbing the elements. She was the ninth and last child in the Robinson
Although Bernice Robinson had first gone to New York City with the intention of becoming a musician, she returned to
Charleston with a politically valuable skill. As a beautician, she could maintain ecnomic independence from what, at the time,
was a virtually all-white business community. This meant that she could work for the NAACP without fear of financial
reprisals. And she did.
In 1955, Bernice attended a Highlander workshop on the United Nations with Septima Clark. Rosa Parks was at that
workshop. After many months of work and with the ongoing support of Highlander, a school was ready. Esau approached
Bernice about being the teacher. Reluctantly, she agreed. Bernice was still working in her beauty shop and also caring for an ill
mother, but she began recruiting and faced her first class with the words, "I'm not going to be the teacher. We're going to
learn together. You're going to teach me some things, and maybe there are a few things I might be able to teach you, but I
don't consider myself a teacher. I just feel that I'm here to learn with you. We'll learn things together."
Everyone presented Bernice with what they wanted to learn and that became the curriculum. At the end of five months, all
fourteen of the pupils that she started with had received their voter registration certificates, they could read and write, and
they could do arithmetic. After that, the program continued to grow beyond anyone's expectations, expanding to Wadmalaw
and Edisto Islands, and soon to Charleston itself.
Bernices's mother died in 1961. That same year National news headlines focused on the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE)
and the Freedom Riders that it sponsored. Violence attracted the photographers' eyes, because angry whites in Alabama and
Mississippi used beatings and arson and legal harrassment to resist the Freedom Rider's test of desegregation practices.
Also in 1961, but with little publicity, the SCLC, SNCC, and CORE cooperated in another endeavor: expanding the impact of
the Citizenship Schools. Bernice Robinson, who had been the first Citizenship School teacher, was employed by both
Highlander and the SCLC to set up voter-registration workshops in communities across the racially tense South. As such, she
made no news headlines, but neither was she immune from threats or danger. The legacy of the Freedom Riders was certain.
Once fear had been set loose in Dixie, few civil rights workers were safe.
Having waged the most successful and widespread literacy campaign ever seen in the United States, Bernice left the SCLC in
1970 and was hired by the South Carolina Commission for Farm Workers (SCCFW), under whose auspices she supervised
VISTA volunteers in her native Charleston. In 1972 she made an unsuccessful bid for a Congress, then returned to the
SCCFW and worked with migrants until 1977.
Like those of Julian Bond, Bernice Robinson's accomplishments during the sixties defined her as a pure activist. Through the
Citizenship Schools, she served as a frontline adult educator in the civil rights movement, gaining her a prominent place among
those who have had a lasting impact on society through their educational work. She died in 1994.

Billy Holiday (1915-1959)
Holiday began working with Lester Young in 1936,her with her now-famous
nickname of "Lady Day." When Holiday joined Count Basie in 1937 and then
Artie Shaw in 1938, she became one of the very first black women to work with
a white orchestra, an impressive accomplishment of her time.
In 1939, when Holiday was working with Columbia Records, she was first
introduced to the poem "Strange Fruit," an emotional piece about the lynching of
a black man. Though Columbia would not allow her to record the piece due to
subject matter, Holiday went on to record the song with an alternate label,
Commodore, and the song eventually became one of Holiday's classics. It was
"Strange Fruit" that eventually prompted Lady Day to continue more of her
signature, moving ballads.
Holiday recorded about 100 new recordings on another label, Verve, from 1952
to 1959. Her voice became more rugged and vulnerable on these tracks than
earlier in her career. During this period, she toured Europe, and made her final
studio recordings for the MGM label in March of 1959.
Despite her lack of technical training, Holiday's unique diction, inimitable phrasing
and acute dramatic intensity made her the outstanding jazz singer of her day.
White gardenias, worn in her hair, became her trademark. "Singing songs like the
'The Man I Love' or 'Porgy' is no more work than sitting down and eating
Chinese roast duck, and I love roast duck," she wrote in her autobiography. "I've
lived songs like that."
Billie Holiday, a musical legend still popular today, died an untimely death at the
age of 44.

Lena Horn (1917-)
American singer and actress who first came to fame in the 1940s.
Horne left school at age 16 to help support her ailing mother and became a dancer at the
Cotton Club in Harlem, New York City. In two years at the Cotton Club she appeared
with such entertainers as Cab Calloway and eventually starred in her own shows. In 1935
she joined the Noble Sissle orchestra under the name Helena Horne. Horne was married
from 1937 to 1944 to Louis J. Jones. In the early 1940s she was hired to sing for Charlie
Barnet's orchestra. She was discovered by producer John Hammond, and soon after she
performed in a solo show at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
In 1942 Horne moved to Los Angeles, after which she appeared in such movies as Cabin in
the Sky (1943), Meet Me in Las Vegas (1956), and The Wiz (1978). Her role in the film Stormy
Weather (1943) included her rendition of the title song, which became her trademark. A
remarkably charismatic entertainer, Horne was one of the most popular singers of her
time. One of her albums, Lena Horne at the Waldorf-Astoria (1957), was a long-time best-
seller, and her first featured performance on Broadwayin the musical Jamaica (1957)
won her a New York Drama Critics' Poll Award in 1958.
Though primarily known as an entertainer, Horne also was noted for her work with civil
rights and political organizations; as an actress, she refused to play roles that stereotyped
African American women. She was married to Lennie Hayton from 1947 until his death in
1971. Her one-woman show, Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music (1981), garnered many
awards, including a Drama Critics' Circle Award and a special achievement Tony Award. In
1984 Horne received a Kennedy Center honour for lifetime contribution to the arts, and
in 1989 a Grammy Award for lifetime achievement.
Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977)
Fannie Lou Hamer, known as the lady who was "sick and tired of being sick and tired," was
born October 6, 1917, in Montgomery County, Mississippi. She was the granddaughter of
slaves. Her family were sharecroppers - a position not that different from slavery. Hamer
had 19 brothers and sisters. She was the youngest of the children.
In 1962, when Hamer was 44 years old, SNCC volunteers came to town and held a voter
registration meeting. She was surprised to learn that African-Americans actually had a
constitutional right to vote. When the SNCC members asked for volunteers to go to the
courthouse to register to vote, Hamer was the first to raise her hand. This was a
dangerous decision. She later reflected, "The only thing they could do to me was to kill
me, and it seemed like they'd been trying to do that a little bit at a time ever since I could
When Hamer and others went to the courthouse, they were jailed and beaten by the
police. Hamer's courageous act got her thrown off the plantation where she was a
sharecropper. She also began to receive constant death threats and was even shot at. Still,
Hamer would not be discouraged. She became a SNCC Field Secretary and traveled
around the country speaking and registering people to vote.
Hamer co-founded the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). In 1964, the MDFP
challenged the all-white Mississippi delegation to the Democratic National Convention.
Hamer spoke in front of the Credentials Committee in a televised proceeding that
reached millions of viewers. She told the committee how African-Americans in many
states across the country were prevented from voting through illegal tests, taxes and
intimidation. As a result of her speech, two delegates of the MFDP were given speaking
rights at the convention and the other members were seated as honorable guests.
Hamer was an inspirational figure to many involved in the struggle for civil rights. She died
on March 14, 1977, at the age of 59.

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)
In 1938 she married Henry Blakely and moved to a kitchenette apartment on Chicagos South Side. Between
the birth of her first child, Henry, Jr., in 1940 and the birth of Nora in 1951, she became associated with the
group of writers involved in Harriet Monroe's still-extant Poetry: A Magazine of Verse. From this group she
received further encouragement, and by 1943 she had won the Midwestern Writers Conference Poetry
In 1945 her first book of poetry, A Street in Bronzeville (published by Harper and Row), brought her instant
critical acclaim. She was selected one of Mademoiselle magazine's "Ten Young Women of the Year," she won
her first Guggenheim Fellowship, and she became a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her
second book of poems, Annie Allen (1949), won Poetry magazine's Eunice Tietjens Prize. In 1950 Gwendolyn
Brooks became the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize. From that time to the present,
she has seen the recipient of a number of awards, fellowships, and honorary degrees usually designated as
Doctor of Humane Letters.
President John Kennedy invited her to read at a Library of Congress poetry festival in 1962. In 1985 she was
appointed poetry consultant to the Library of Congress. Just as receiving a Pulitzer Prize for poetry marked a
milestone in her career, so also did her selection by the National Endowment for the Humanities as the 1994
Jefferson Lecturer, the highest award in the humanities given by the federal government.
Her first teaching job was a poetry workshop at Columbia College (Chicago) in 1963. She went on to teach
creative writing at a number of institutions including Northeastern Illinois University, Elmhurst College,
Columbia University, Clay College of New York, and the University of Wisconsin.
A turning point in her career came in 1967 when she attended the Fisk University Second Black Writers'
Conference and decided to become more involved in the Black Arts movement. She became one of the most
visible articulators of "the black aesthetic." Her "awakening" led to a shift away from a major publishing house
to smaller black ones. While some critics found an angrier tone in her work, elements of protest had always
been present in her writing and her awareness of social issues did not result in diatribes at the expense of
her clear commitment to aesthetic principles. Consequently, becoming the leader of one phase of the Black
Arts movement in Chicago did not drastically alter her poetry, but there were some subtle changes that
become more noticeable when one examines her total canon to date.
In 1968 she was named Poet Laureate for the state of Illinois, and from 1985-86 she was Consultant in
Poetry to the Library of Congress. She also received an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, the
Frost Medal, a National Endowment for the Arts award, the Shelley Memorial Award, and fellowships from
The Academy of American Poets and the Guggenheim Foundation. She lived in Chicago until her death on
December 3, 2000.

Juanita Kidd Stout (1919-1998)
Dr. Juanita Kidd Stout was an African-American educator, lawyer, and in 1959 was one of the first Black women
in America to be elected to the Bench.

Born in Wewoka, Oklahoma she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Iowa, and taught music
in the high schools at Seminole and Sand Springs, Oklahoma, prior to pursuing a career in law. She later received
the J.D. and LL.M. degrees from Indiana University. Moving east and after practicing law for five years, she joined
the District Attorneys office in Philadelphia, serving as Assistant District Attorney and later as Chief of Appeals,
Pardons and Paroles.

In 1959, she was elected Judge of the Common Pleas Court in Philadelphia and was reelected in 1969 and 1979,
both times receiving the highest vote of the Philadelphia Bar Association with respect to judicial qualifications.
Stout, known as a tireless, relentless public servant, believed in the value of education and loyalty to the law of
the land. During the sixties she gained national recognition for her vigorous fight against crime and all aspects of
juvenile delinquency. She was a champion of justice, whose actions were tempered with quiet encouragement
and counsel she gave to the hundreds of young men and women who appeared in her court.

Stout received many awards, including "Outstanding Woman Lawyer of the Year, National Association of Women
Lawyers, 1965; "Outstanding alumni Award" from the Oklahoma State University 4-H Club, 1967; the "National
4-H Alumni Recognition Award,"1968; and the "Good Citizen Award" from the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO in 1971.
President Kennedy appointed her as a Special Ambassador to the Kenya Independence Celebration in 1963, and
in 1967, under the State Departments Cultural Exchange Program, she toured six African countries and lectured
at law schools, colleges, high schools, and civic groups.

She served as a forum member of the White House Conference on Children and Youth, and was constantly in
demand as a public speaker. She wrote numerous articles and was the subject of articles in Time, Life, the Wall
Street Journal, and Readers Digest. During her years on the bench, she tried hundreds of cases, including the
notorious 1993 murder case involving Ira Einhorn. Juanita Kidd Stout passed away in 1998.


Mamie Till Mobley (1921-2003)
Mamie Till-Mobley became a figure in the civil rights
movement after she held an open casket funeral service
for her son, Emmett Till, after his slaying in Mississippi in
1955. Mrs. Till-Mobley continued to speak out about her
son, but many black leaders felt her greatest role came
at the height of her pain: the decision to have an open
coffin. The press took pictures of Till with a bullet in the
skull, an eye gouged out and his head partially crushed.
His body had been found floating in the Tallahatchie
River, identifiable only by the ring Till wore that belonged
to his late father. Mamie Elizabeth Carthan was born in
Hazelhurst, Miss., and grew up in Chicago. She was a
1956 cum laude graduate of Chicago Teachers College
and in 1975 received a master's degree in administration
and supervision from Loyola University in Chicago. She
taught special education in Chicago elementary schools.
Gloria Richardson (1922-)
Gloria Hayes Richardson was born on May 6, 1922 in Baltimore, Maryland to parents John and Mabel Hayes. During
the Great Depression her parents moved the family to Cambridge, Maryland, the home of Mabel Hayes. Young
Gloria grew up in a privileged environment. Her grandfather, Herbert M. St. Clair, was one of the towns wealthiest
citizens. He owned numerous properties in the citys Second Ward which included a funeral parlor, grocery store
and butcher shop. He was also the sole African American member of the Cambridge City Council through most of
the early 20th Century.

Gloria attended Howard University in Washington at the age of 16 and graduated in 1942 with a degree in
sociology. After Howard, she worked as a civil servant for the federal government in World War II-era Washington,
D.C. but returned to Cambridge after the war. Despite her grandfathers political and economic influence, the
Maryland Department of Social Services, for example, refused to hire Gloria or any other black social
workers. Gloria Hayes married local school teacher Harry Richardson in 1948 and raised a family for the next
thirteen years.

When the civil rights movement came to Cambridge in 1961 in the form of Freedom Riders, the town was
thoroughly segregated and the African American unemployment rate was 40%. Gloria Richardsons teenage
daughter, Donna, became involved with the Student Non Violent Coordinating Committees (SNCC) effort to
desegregate public accommodations. Gloria, however, refused to commit herself to non-violence as a protest

When the SNCC-led protests faltered in 1962, Gloria and other parents created the Cambridge Nonviolent Action
Committee (CNAC) which became the only adult-led SNCC affiliate in the civil rights organizations history. CNAC
enlarged the scope of grievances to include housing and employment discrimination and inadequate health
care. Richardson was selected to lead CNAC.

This Richardson-led effort differed from most other civil rights campaigns of the era. It took place in a border state
rather than the Deep South. It addressed a much wider array of issues rather than the one or two that motivated
other campaigns. Since Richardson and her followers refused to commit to non-violence as a philosophy or a tactic,
CNAC protests were far more violent and confrontative. Protests in 1963, for example, prompted Maryland
Governor J. Millard Tawes to send in the Maryland National Guard. The Guard remained in the city, which was
effectively under martial law, for nearly a year. The Cambridge Movement also drew the attention of U.S. Attorney
General Bobby Kennedy who unsuccessfully attempted to broker an agreement between Cambridges white political
leaders and Richardsons CNAC.

By the summer of 1964 Richardson resigned from the Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee citing her
exhaustion from leading nearly two years of continuous demonstrations. Richardson, who had divorced Harry
Richardson in the late 1950s, married freelance photographer Frank Dandridge. The couple moved to New York
City with Richardsons younger daughter Tamara. Although she maintained ties with Cambridge and with the local
movement, Gloria Richardson never lived in Cambridge again.
Mary Fair Banks (1920s-1991)
Alabama State College, BA, English literature; University of Michigan, MA, English literature; Columbia University, doctorate in
education; postgraduate study at Harvard University, Oxford University, the Sorbonne, among others. Co-founder and member,
Women's Political Council of Montgomery, 1946-60.
Career- Alabama State Laboratory High School, English teacher; Alabama State College, head of English department, late 1940s-60;
helped launch the Montgomery Bus Boycott, 1955-56; University of Maryland, professor of literature, 1960-86.
Mary Fair Burks, as a co-founder of the Women's Political Council of Montgomery, Alabama (WPC), helped organize and maintain
the historic protest. First only targeting conditions for black on buses, it was only later that the goals of the boycott grew to include
integration. Burks, an English professor, grew up in a radically segregated world, but worked to see the end of segregation long
before her death in 1991.
Burks was born in the 1920s and grew up in Montgomery in the 1930s, bucking the Jim Crow system of segregation even as a child.
She used white-only elevators, restrooms, and other facilities in what she later called "my own private guerilla warfare," according to
the King Chronologies Online. She earned her bachelor's degree in English literature from Alabama State College at age 18. She
returned to Montgomery after earning her master's degree from the University of Michigan. Burks taught English at the Alabama
State Laboratory High School and then taught at the college. She married the high school principal and became head of the Alabama
State College English department. She later earned her doctorate from Columbia University.
In 1946 Burks founded the WPC with JoAnn Robinson to work at fixing some of the problems in Montgomery's black community.
The grass-roots organization was made up of college women and those who lived in the area. "The WPC was formed for the
purpose of inspiring Negroes to live above mediocrity, to elevate their thinking, to fight juvenile and adult delinquency, to register
and vote, and in general to improve their status as a group," JoAnn Robinson wrote in her memoir, The Montgomery Bus Boycott and
the Women Who Started It. "We were woman power, organized to cope with any injustice, no matter what, against the darker sect."
Burks was the group's first president, and lead the women "who would work together as leaders and followers, giving and taking
suggestions, and who would never reveal the secrets of the WPC," Robinson wrote. "Dr. Burks, a profound scholar, highly intelligent
and fearless, was a native Alabaman who had suffered from the segregated rules, the hypocrisy of race separation. ... Dr. Burks knew
that one day, when human beings had taken all they could digest, the fight would begin. Thus her thoughts gave birth to the WPC...."
Burks handed over presidency of the group to Robinson in 1950, but remained as involved as ever.
"The WPC was the largest, best organized, and most assertive black civic organization in the Alabama capital," according to Stewart
Burns, editor of Daybreak of Freedom: The Montgomery Bus Boycott. Burks and Robinson became involved with the mayor's office and
the Montgomery City Commission. They informed the commissioners about their goals of working with the city to resolve nuisance
issues when blacks were concerned. The mayor's office and commission were sincere in working with the WPC, and the group's
members were invited to attend city meetings that involved minority groups. The WPC worked hard to find solutions to the city's
troubles that were in the interest of the black community. The city of Montgomery and the WPC maintained a productive working
relationship for several years. That partnership effectively ended when the struggle for integration on buses began.
Ada Sipuel Fisher (1924-1995)
From Chickasha, Oklahoma she was the daughter of a minister. Her brother planned to challenge
segregationist policies of the University of Oklahoma, but went to Howard University Law School to
not delay his career further by protracted litigation. Sipuel was willing to delay her legal career in order
to challenge segregation. In 1946, she applied at the University of Oklahoma and was denied because of
race, and in 1948, the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Oklahoma must provide instruction for
Blacks equal to that of whites.

In order to comply, the state of Oklahoma created the Langston University School of Law, located at
the state capital. Further litigation was necessary to prove that this law school was inferior to the
University of Oklahoma law school. Finally, in 1949, Sipuel was admitted to the University of Oklahoma
law school becoming the first African American woman to attend an all white law school in the South.
By this time she was married and pregnant with the first of her two children. The law school gave her a
chair marked "colored," and roped it off from the rest of the class. Her classmates and teachers
welcomed her, shared their notes and studied with her, helping her to catch up on the materials she had

Sipuel had to eat in a separate chained-off guarded area of the law school cafeteria. She recalled that
years later some white students would crawl under the chain and eat with her when the guards were
not around. Her lawsuit and tuition were supported by hundreds of small donations, and she believed
she owed it to those donors to make it. She graduated in 1951 with a Master's degree, and began
practicing law in her hometown of Chickasha in 1952.

In 1992, Oklahoma's governor David Walters appointed her to the Board of Regents of the University
of Oklahoma, which she noted in an interview, "completes a forty-five year cycle." She further stated,
"Having suffered severely from bigotry and racial discrimination as a student, I am sensitive to that kind
of thing," and she planned to bring a new dimension to university policies.


Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005)
Shirley St. Hill Chisholm was born on November 30, 1924 in Brooklyn, New York to Charles and Ruby St. Hill. Her father
was from British Guiana and her mother was from Barbados. In 1927, Shirley was sent to Barbados to live with her
maternal grandmother. She received a good education from the British school system, which she later credited with
providing her with a strong academic background
In 1934, she rejoined her parents in New York. Shirley excelled in academics at Girls High School in Brooklyn from which
she graduated in 1942. After graduation she enrolled in Brooklyn College where she majored in sociology. Shirley
encountered racism at Brooklyn College and fought against it. When the black students at Brooklyn College were denied
admittance to a social club, Shirley formed an alternative one. She graduated in 1946 with honors. During this time, it was
difficult for black college graduates to obtain employment commensurate to their education. After being rejected by many
companies, she obtained a job at the Mt. Calvary Childcare Center in Harlem.
In 1949, she married Conrad Chisholm, a Jamaican who worked as a private investigator. Shirley and her husband
participated in local politics, helping form the Bedford-Stuyvesant political League. In addition to participating in politics,
Chisholm worked in the field of day care until 1959. In 1960, she started the Unity Democratic Club. The Unity Club was
instrumental in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters.
In 1964 Chisholm ran for a state assembly seat. She won and served in the New York General Assembly from 1964 to
1968. During her tenure in the legislature, she proposed a bill to provide state aid to day-care centers and voted to
increase funding for schools on a per-pupil basis. In 1968, After finishing her term in the legislature, Chisholm campaigned
to represent New York's Twelfth Congressional District. Her campaign slogan was "Fighting Shirley Chisholm--Unbought
and Unbossed." She won the election and became the first African American woman elected to Congress.
During her first term in Congress, Chisholm hired an all-female staff and spoke out for civil rights, women's rights, the
poor and against the Vietnam War. In 1970, she was elected to a second term. She was a sought-after public speaker and
cofounder of the National Organization for Women (NOW). She remarked that, "Women in this country must become
revolutionaries. We must refuse to accept the old, the traditional roles and stereotypes."
On January 25, 1972, Chisholm announced her candidacy for president. She stood before the cameras and in the beginning
of her speech she said,
"I stand before you today as a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency of the United States. I am not
the candidate of black America, although I am black and proud. I am not the candidate of the women's movement of this
country, although I am a woman, and I am equally proud of that. I am not the candidate of any political bosses or special
interests. I am the candidate of the people."
The 1972 Democratic National Convention in Miami was the first major convention in which any woman was considered
for the presidential nomination. Although she did not win the nomination, she received 151 of the delegates' votes. She
continued to serve in the House of Representatives until 1982. She retired from politics after her last term in office. She
has received many honorary degrees, and her awards include Alumna of the Year, Brooklyn College; Key Woman of the
Year; Outstanding Work in the Field of Child Welfare; and Woman of Achievement. Shirley Chisholm passed away on
January 1, 2005.
Victoria Jackson Gray Adams (1926- 2006)
Born on Nov. 5, 1926, in Palmers Crossing, the daughter of Mack and Annie Mae Ott Jackson, Mrs. Gray Adams was educated at
Wilberforce University in Ohio, the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and Jackson State College in Mississippi. She went on to serve as a
campus minister at Virginia State University and to teach and lecture at schools, colleges and universities across the nation.
Victoria Jackson Gray Adams, a key figure in the struggle by Mississippi blacks to win their political and civil rights in the 1960s and the first
woman to seek a seat in the United States Senate from her state. Mrs. Gray Adams, a teacher, door-to-door saleswoman of Beauty Queen
cosmetics and leader of voter education classes from the hamlet of Palmers Crossing, on the edge of Hattiesburg, Miss., decided to take on
Senator John C. Stennis, the Mississippi Democrat who at the time had been in the Senate for 16 years.
In July 1964, she announced that she and others from the tiny Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party would challenge the power of the
segregationist politicians, like Mr. Stennis, who represented her state. The time had come, she said, to pay attention to the Negro in
Mississippi, who had not even had the leavings from the American political table.
That decision became a turning point for the civil rights movement and for the Democratic Party, which for most of its history had been
profoundly influenced by all-white delegations from the South. From Hattiesburg, the waves of the civil rights movement swept quietly
through the church world into politics, the author Taylor Branch wrote in Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-65 (Simon &
Schuster, 1998).
Mrs. Gray Adams was defeated by a ratio of 30 to 1 in the Democratic primary, in part because Mississippi had effectively disenfranchised
black voters. But the party she started and led went on to challenge the right of the all-white Mississippi delegation to represent her state at
the 1964 Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City. Millions of Americans watching on television saw Fannie Lou Hamer, the best
known of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Partys founders, tell the conventions credentials committee that she had been jailed and
beaten for trying to register blacks to vote. Is this America? Ms. Hamer asked.
The all-white Mississippi delegation walked out of the convention. It rejected a compromise proposal to give the integrated Freedom
Democratic Party token representation on the floor. It was the beginning of the end of an old political tradition. In 1968, Mississippi seated
an integrated delegation at the Democratic convention.
We really were the true Democratic Party, Mrs. Gray Adams said in the 2004 interview. In the end, she said, we accomplished the
removal of the wall, the curtain of fear in Mississippi for African-Americans demanding their rights. She continued: We eliminated the
isolation of the African-Americans from the political process. I believe that Mississippi now has the highest number of African-American
elected officials in the nation. We laid the groundwork for that.
Mrs. Gray Adams said she learned in 1964 that there were two kinds of people in grass-roots politics, those who are in the movement,
and those who have the movement in them. The movement is in me, she said, and I know it always will be.

Coretta Scott King (1927-2006)
Coretta Scott King was the wife of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.. The couple
met in Boston, where Coretta Scott was studying voice at the New England Conservatory
of Music; they were married on 18 June 1953. The family moved to Montgomery, Alabama
and then to Atlanta as Dr. King became a civil rights leader and a prominent public figure.
After Dr. King's assassination in 1968, Coretta King established the King Center for
Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta; she also supported the establishment of a national
holiday in honor of her husband, an idea which became law in 1986. Coretta and Martin
Luther King had four children: Yolanda (born 1955), Martin Luther III (b. 1957), Dexter (b.
1961), and Bernice (1963).
In 1969 the American Library Association (ALA) created the annual Coretta Scott King
award to honor children's book authors and illustrators of African descent.
For decades, Mrs. King was CEO of the King Center she founded to continue her
husband's principles of nonviolent social change to fight poverty, racism and war. She's
been awarded 60 honorary degrees, authored 3 books and served in dozens of

Resulting from her efforts, the King Center covers 23 acres, archives a definitive history of
the US civil rights movement, hosts a million visitors a year, and has trained tens of
thousands in Dr. King's philosophy. She also successfully spearheaded a massive campaign
to establish Dr. King's birthday as the first federal holiday for an African-American. She's
led peace delegations around the world, and lent support to world spiritual and political
Maya Angelou (1928-)
Born on April 4th, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Angelou was raised in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas.
In Stamps, Dr. Angelou experienced the brutality of racial discrimination, but she also absorbed the unshakable faith and values of
traditional African-American family, community, and culture.
As a teenager, Dr. Angelous love for the arts won her a scholarship to study dance and drama at San Franciscos Labor School. At
14, she dropped out to become San Franciscos first African-American female cable car conductor. She later finished high school,
giving birth to her son, Guy, a few weeks after graduation. As a young single mother, she supported her son by working as a waitress
and cook, however her passion for music, dance, performance, and poetry would soon take center stage.
In 1954 and 1955, Dr. Angelou toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess. She studied modern dance with Martha
Graham, danced with Alvin Ailey on television variety shows and, in 1957, recorded her first album, Calypso Lady. In 1958, she moved
to New York, where she joined the Harlem Writers Guild, acted in the historic Off-Broadway production of Jean Genet's The Blacks
and wrote and performed Cabaret for Freedom.
In 1960, Dr. Angelou moved to Cairo, Egypt where she served as editor of the English language weekly The Arab Observer. The next
year, she moved to Ghana where she taught at the University of Ghana's School of Music and Drama, worked as feature editor for
The African Review and wrote for The Ghanaian Times.
During her years abroad, Dr. Angelou read and studied voraciously, mastering French, Spanish, Italian, Arabic and the West African
language Fanti. While in Ghana, she met with Malcolm X and, in 1964, returned to America to help him build his new Organization
of African American Unity.
Shortly after her arrival in the United States, Malcolm X was assassinated, and the organization dissolved. Soon after X's
assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked Dr. Angelou to serve as Northern Coordinator for the Southern Christian Leadership
Conference. King's assassination, falling on her birthday in 1968, left her devastated.
With the guidance of her friend, the novelist James Baldwin, she began work on the book that would become I Know Why the Caged
Bird Sings. Published in 1970, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was published to international acclaim and enormous popular success.
The list of her published verse, non-fiction, and fiction now includes more than 30 bestselling titles.
A trailblazer in film and television, Dr. Angelou wrote the screenplay and composed the score for the 1972 film Georgia, Georgia. Her
script, the first by an African American woman ever to be filmed, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.
She continues to appear on television and in films including the landmark television adaptation of Alex Haley's Roots (1977) and John
Singleton's Poetic Justice (1993). In 1996, she directed her first feature film, Down in the Delta. In 2008, she composed poetry for and
narrated the award-winning documentary The Black Candle, directed by M.K. Asante, Jr.
Dr. Angelou has served on two presidential committees, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Arts in 2000, the Lincoln Medal in
2008, and has received 3 Grammy Awards. President Clinton requested that she compose a poem to read at his inauguration in
1993. Dr. Angelou's reading of her poem "On the Pulse of the Morning" was broadcast live around the world.

Lorraine Hansberry (1930-1965)
Lorraine Hansberry's parents were both active in the black community in Chicago, including in social change work. Her uncle, William
Leo Hansberry, studied African history. Visitors to the home included Duke Ellington, Paul Robeson, and Jesse Owens.
Her family moved, desegregating a white neighborhood with a restrictive covenant, in 1938, and though there were violent protests,
they did not move until a court ordered them to do so. The case made it to the U.S. Supreme Court as Hansberry vs. Lee, when
restrictive covenants were ruled illegal (which did not stop enforcement of them in Chicago and other cities).
One of Lorraine Hanberry's brothers served in a segregated unit in World War II; another refused his draft call, objecting to
segregation and discrimination in the military.
Lorraine Hansberry attended the University of Wisconsin for two years, then left to work for Paul Robeson's newspaper, Freedom,
first as a writer and then associate editor. She attended the Intercontinental Peace Congress in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 1952, when
Paul Robeson was denied a passport to attend.
She met Robert Nemiroff on a picket line, and they were married in 1953, spending the night before their wedding protesting the
execution of the Rosenbergs. Lorraine Hansberry left her position at Freedom, focusing mostly on her writing and taking a few
temporary jobs.
Lorraine Hansberry completed her first play in 1957, taking her title from Langston Hughes' poem, "Harlem."
"What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore -- and then run?"
She began to circulate the play, Raisin in the Sun, trying to interest producers, investors, and actors. Sidney Poitier expressed interest
in taking the part of the son, and soon a director and other actors (including Louis Gossett, Ruby Dee, and Ossie Davis) were
committed to the performance. Raisin in the Sun opened on Broadway at the Barrymore Theatre on March 11, 1959.
The play, with themes both universally human and specifically about racial discrimination and sexist attitudes, was successful, and a
screenplay soon followed in which Lorraine Hansberry added more scenes to the story -- none of which Columbia Pictures allowed
into the film.
Lorraine Hansberry was commissioned to write a television drama on slavery, which she completed as The Drinking Gourd, but it was
not produced -- NBC executives apparently didn't support the idea of a black screenwriter writing about slavery.
Moving with her husband to Croton-on-Hudson, Lorraine Hansberry continued not only her writing but also her involvement with
civil rights and other political protest, even after being diagnosed with cancer. In 1964, The Movement: Documentary of a Struggle for
Equality was published for SNCC (Southern Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) with text by Hansberry. She divorced Nemiroff in
March, though they continued to work together.
In October, Lorraine Hansberry moved back into New York City as her new play, The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window began
rehearsals. Although critical reception was cool, supporters kept it running until Lorraine Hansberry's death in January.
After her death, her ex-husband finished her work on a play centered on Africa, Les Blancs. This play opened in 1970 and ran for only
47 performances.


Yvonne Brathwaite Burke (1932-)
Yvonne Brathwaite Burke was a rising star in California and national politics years before she won a seat in the U.S.
House. In 1966, she became the first African-American woman elected to the California assembly. At the 1972
Democratic National Convention she served as vice chair of the platform committee, gaining national television exposure.
That same year she became the first black woman from California (and one of only three black women ever) elected to
the House. Her meteoric career continued with a prime appointment to the Appropriations Committee and her election
as the first woman chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). But Burkes most notable distinction in the eyes of
much of the public occurred in 1973, when she became the first Congresswoman to give birth and be granted maternity
leave while serving in Congress.
Perle Yvonne Watson was born on October 5, 1932, in Los Angeles, California, the only child of James Watson, a
custodian at the MGM film studios, and Lola (Moore) Watson, a real estate agent in East Los Angeles. Yvonne (she
rejected the name Perle) grew up in modest circumstances and at first was enrolled in a public school.
At age four she
was transferred to a model school for exceptional children. Watson became the vice president of her class at Manual Arts
High School in Los Angeles. She enrolled at the University of California at Berkeley in 1949 but transferred to the
University of California at Los Angeles, where she earned a B.A. in political science in 1953. She was among the first black
women to be admitted to the University of Southern California School of Law, Los Angeles, earning her J.D. and passing
the California bar in 1956. After graduating, she found that no law firms would hire an African-American woman and,
consequently, entered into her own private practice, specializing in civil, probate, and real estate law. In addition to her
private practice, she served as the states deputy corporation commissioner and as a hearing officer for the Los Angeles
Police Commission. In 1957, Yvonne Watson wed mathematician Louis Brathwaite. The marriage ended in divorce in
1964. Yvonne Brathwaite organized a legal defense team for Watts rioters in 1965 and was named by Governor Edmond
Brown to the McCone Commission, which investigated the conditions that led to the riot. A year later she won election
to the California assembly. She eventually chaired the assemblys committee on urban development and won re-election in
1968 and 1970.

Brathwaite ultimately grew impatient with the pace of social legislation in the California assembly and, when court-
mandated reapportionment created a new congressional district, decided to enter the race for the seat. The district
encompassed much of southwest Los Angeles, was nearly 75 percent registered Democrats, and had a large African-
American constituency. In the Democratic primary, Brathwaite faced Billy Mills, a popular African-American Los Angeles
city councilman. She amassed 54 percent of the vote to defeat Mills and three other challengers. Just days after the
primary, on June 14, 1972, Yvonne Brathwaite married businessman William Burke, who had been an aide to Mills. Less
than a month later, Yvonne Brathwaite Burke garnered national media attention as the vice chair of the Democratic
National Convention in Miami Beach that nominated George McGovern. She spent much of the convention controlling
the gavel during the long and sometimes-raucous platform deliberations, eventually helping to pass revised rules that gave
minorities and young voters a greater voice in shaping party policy.

Myrlie Evers-Williams (1933-)
Myrlie Beasley Evers was born March 17, 1933, in Vicksburg, Mississippi. In 1950, she enrolled at Alcorn
A&M College, where she met Medgar Evers, an upperclassman and Army veteran. She left school before
earning her degree, and they married on Christmas Eve, 1951, and raised in Vicksburg, Mississippi.
She was raised by her grandmother (Annie McCain Beasley) and her aunt (Myrlie Beasley Polk) both
were schoolteachers. (Contemporary Black Biography Vol.8: 66).
Myrlie went to Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College in Lorman, Mississippi, where she met the
man of her dream, Medger Evers. Medger Evers was older than Myrlie, and he was also a veteran; but
this didn't stop both of them from getting marries on December 24, 1951. The next year, Medger
graduated, but Myrlie was still a sophomore in college . The couple settled in a black town in the
Mississippi delta called Mound Bayou. Medger worked as an insurance agent for Magnolia Mutual
Insurance, one of the best jobs for blacks offered by blacks.(Black Women in America: 1264-
For Us the Living: The Story of Medgar Evers was made into a television film with the screenplay by
Ossie Davis. It was directed by Michael Schultz and starred Howard Rollins, Jr., Irene Cara, Laurence
Fishburne, and Paul Winfield in 1983. Another film Ghosts of Mississippi is the story of the final trial of
the assassin, Bryon De La Beckwith, who was charged in 1963 with the murder of the husband of
Myrlie Evers-Edgars's 60's civil rights leader Medgar Evers. The movie covers District Attorney, Bobby
DeLaughters' alliance with Myrlie Evers as he becomes more involved with bringing Beckwith to trial
for the third time 30 years after the first trial. Some of the characters are played by the actual
participants in this story.
In 1995, her second husband, Walter Williams, whom she had married in 1975, died. Myrlie Evers made
history when she became the first woman to chair the NAACP. In 1999, Little, Brown re-published her
memoir, "Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be,"
which describes her journey from being the wife of an activist to becoming a community leader in her
own right.


Unita Blackwell (1933-)
Unita Blackwell was born in 1933. She is an African-American politician and

From Lula, Mississippi, her parents were both sharecroppers in Coahoma
County. Because of limited educational opportunities for Blacks in that
state, Blackwell had to cross the State line to attend school, in West
Helena, Arkansas. She became a field worker for the Student Nonviolent
Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1964, joining their efforts to register
black voters in Mississippi. Also that year, she served as a delegate of the
Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which went to the Democratic
National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Blackwell served as a community
development specialist with the National Council of Negro Women. Since
1977, she has served as mayor of the Issaquena County Community of
Mayersville. Blackwell has risen as a prominent speaker on rural housing
and development. In 1979, she participated in President Jimmy Carters
Energy Summit at Camp David. She later received a masters degree in
regional planning from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. In 1992,
Blackwell received the prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

Eleanor Holmes Norton (1937-)
Civil rights activist, politician. Born June 13, 1937 in Washington, D.C. A graduate
of Antioch College, Yale University and Yale University Law School, Norton
worked in private practice before becoming assistant director of the American
Civil Liberties Union (196570) where she defended both Julian Bond's and
George Wallace's freedom-of-speech rights.
While in college and graduate school, Norton was active in the civil rights
movement and an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
By the time Norton graduated from Antioch, she had already been arrested for
organizing and participating in sit-ins in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Ohio.
While in law school, she traveled to Mississippi for the Mississippi Freedom
Summer and worked with civil rights stalwarts like Medgar Evers. Norton's first
encounter with a recently released, but physically beaten Fannie Lou Hamer
forced Norton to bear witness to the intensity of violence and Jim Crow
repression in the South. Her time with SNCC inspired her lifelong commitment
to social activism and her budding sense of feminism. In the early 1970s, Eleanor
Holmes Norton was a signer of the Black Womans Manifesto, a classic document
of the Black feminist movement.
As Chairman of the New York Human Rights Commission (19707), Norton
championed women's rights and anti-block-busting legislation. She then went to
Washington to chair the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (1977
83), and in 1982 became a law professor at Georgetown University.
In 1990, Norton was elected as a Democratic non-voting delegate to the House
from the District of Columbia. Currently under scrutiny, the DC Fair and Equal
House Voting Rights Act (or DC Vote) would give one vote to the District of
Columbia in the House of Representatives, but not the Senate. Norton is a
regular panelist on the PBS women's news program To the Contrary
Diana J. Nash (1938-)
Diane Judith Nash was born on May 15, 1938 in Chicago, Illinois to Leon Nash and Dorothy Bolton Nash. Nash
grew up a Roman Catholic and attended parochial and public schools in Chicago. In 1956, she graduated from
Hyde Park High School in Chicago, Illinois and began her college career at Howard University in Washington,
D.C. before transferring to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee.

While a student in Nashville Nash witnessed southern racial segregation for the first time in her life. In 1959,
she attended nonviolent protest workshops led by Reverend James Lawson who was affiliated with the Nashville
Christian Leadership Conference. Later that year she protested exclusionary racial policies by participating in
impromptu sit-ins at Nashvilles downtown lunch counters. Nash was elected chair of the Student Central
Committee because of her nonviolent protest philosophy and her reputation from these sit-ins.

By February 13, 1960, the mass sit-ins that began in Greensboro, North Carolina on February 1 had spread to
Nashville. Nash organized and led many of the protests which ultimately involved hundreds of black and white
area college students. As a result, by early April Nashville Mayor Ben West publicly called for the desegregation
of Nashvilles lunch counters and organized negotiations between Nash and other student leaders and
downtown business interests. Because of these negotiations, on May 10, 1960 Nashville, Tennessee became the
first southern city to desegregate lunch counters.

Meanwhile Nash and other students from across the South assembled in Raleigh, North Carolina at the urging
of NAACP activist Ella Baker. There they founded the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in
April 1960.

After the Nashville sit-ins, Nash helped coordinate and participated in the 1961 Freedom Rides across the Deep
South. Later that year Nash dropped out of college to become a full-time organizer, strategist, and instructor
for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) headed by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nash married civil rights activist James Bevel in 1961 and moved to Jackson, Mississippi where she began
organizing voter registration and school desegregation campaigns for SCLC. Arrested dozens of times for their
civil rights work in Mississippi and Alabama in the early 1960s, Nash and her husband, James Bevel, received
SCLCs Rosa Parks award from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965. Dr. King cited especially their contributions
to the Selma Right-to-vote movement that eventually led to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

In 1966, Nash joined the Vietnam Peace Movement. Through the 1960s she stayed involved in political and social
transformation. In the 1980s she fought for womens rights. Nash now works in real estate in her home town
Chicago, Illinois, but continues to speak out for social change.
Marian Wright Edelman (1939-)
Marian Wright Edelman was born in and grew up in Bennettsville, South Carolina, one of five children. Her father,
Arthur Wright, was a Baptist preacher who taught his children that Christianity required service in this world
and who was influenced by A. Phillip Randolph. He died when Marian was only fourteen, urging in his last words
to her, "Don't let anything get in the way of your education."
Marian Wright Edelman went on to study at Spelman College, abroad on a Merrill scholarship, and she traveled
to the Soviet Union with a Lisle fellowship. When she returned to Spelman in 1959, she became involved in the
civil rights movement, inspiring her to drop her plans to enter the foreign service, and instead to study law. She
studied law at Yale and worked as a student on a project to register African American voters in Mississippi.
In 1963, after graduating from Yale Law School, Marian Wright Edelman worked first in New York for the
NAACP Legal and Defense Fund, and then in Mississippi for the same organization. There, she became the first
African American woman to practice law. During her time in Mississippi, she worked on racial justice issues
connected with the civil rights movement, and she also helped get a Head Start program established in her
During a tour by Robert Kennedy and Joseph Clark of Mississippi's poverty-ridden Delta slums, Marian met
Peter Edelman, an assistant to Kennedy, and the next year she moved to Washington, D.C., to marry him and to
work for social justice in the center of America's political scene. They had three sons.
In Washington, Marian Wright Edelman continued her work, helping to get the Poor People's Campaign
organized. She also began to focus more on issues relating to child development and children in poverty.
Marian Wright Edelman established the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) in 1973 as a voice for poor, minority and
handicapped children. She served as a public speaker on behalf of these children, and also as a lobbyist in
Congress, as well as president and administrative head of the organization. The agency served not only as an
advocacy organization, but as a research center, documenting the problems and possible solutions to children in
need. To keep the agency independent, she saw that it was financed entirely with private funds.
Marian Wright Edelman also published her ideas in several books. The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My
Children and Yours was a surprising success.
In the 1990s, when Bill Clinton was elected President, Hillary Clinton's involvement with the Children's Defense
Fund meant that there was significantly more attention given to the organization. But Edelman did not pull her
punches in criticizing the Clinton administration's legislative agenda -- such as its "welfare reform" initiatives --
when she believed these would be disadvantageous to the nation's neediest children.

Claudette Colvin (1939-)
Few people know the story of Claudette Colvin: When she was 15, she refused to move to the back of the bus
and give up her seat to a white person nine months before Rosa Parks did the very same thing.
Most people know about Parks and the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott that began in 1955, but few know that
there were a number of women who refused to give up their seats on the same bus system. Most of the women
were quietly fined, and no one heard much more.
Colvin was the first to really challenge the law.
Now a 69-year-old retiree, Colvin lives in the Bronx. She remembers taking the bus home from high school on
March 2, 1955, as clear as if it were yesterday.
The bus driver ordered her to get up and she refused, saying she'd paid her fare and it was her constitutional
right. Two police officers put her in handcuffs and arrested her. Her school books went flying off her lap.
"All I remember is that I was not going to walk off the bus voluntarily," Colvin says.
It was Negro history month, and at her segregated school they had been studying black leaders like Harriet
Tubman, the runaway slave who led more than 70 slaves to freedom through the network of safe houses known
as the Underground Railroad. They were also studying about Sojourner Truth, a former slave who became an
abolitionist and women's rights activist.
The class had also been talking about the injustices they were experiencing daily under the Jim Crow
segregation laws, like not being able to eat at a lunch counter.
"We couldn't try on clothes," Colvin says. "You had to take a brown paper bag and draw a diagram of your foot
... and take it to the store. Can you imagine all of that in my mind? My head was just too full of black history, you
know, the oppression that we went through. It felt like Sojourner Truth was on one side pushing me down, and
Harriet Tubman was on the other side of me pushing me down. I couldn't get up."

To see her arrest report go to: http://mlk-

Linda Brown Thompson (1943-)
As a third-grader in Topeka, Kansas in the 1950s, Linda Brown Thompson is often credited with single-handedly
bringing down segregation in America. The truth is far more nuanced and interesting.

In fact, Browns family was just one of thirteen African-American families recruited in Topeka by the NAACP. In
1950, the national civil rights organization was busy enlisting plaintiffs nationwide in preparation for a legal
assault on the separate but equal Supreme Court ruling that had permitted segregation in American schools
for half a century.

In the fall of 1950, the Browns and 12 Topeka families were asked by the NAACP to try and enroll their children
in their neighborhood white schools, with the expectation that they would be rejected. The NAACP then filed a
lawsuit against the Board of Education in Topeka. That lawsuit and others brought on behalf of plaintiffs in
Virginia, South Carolina, Delaware and Washington, DC were presented together on appeal to the U.S. Supreme
Court. By alphabetical accident, because Browns name started with a b, the landmark 1954 decision that ended
legalized segregation in America went down in history as Brown v. Board of Education.

The Supreme Court ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education was unanimous the doctrine of
separate-but-equal was inherently unconstitutional. Delivering the courts opinion, Chief Justice Earl Warren
asserted that segregated schools are not equal and cannot be made equal, and hence they are deprived of the
equal protection of the laws. This landmark ruling began our nations long journey toward school desegregation.
Thompson was one of several plaintiffs who called for the re-opening of the Brown case in 1979. Brown
contested that Topeka school district 501 hadnt met the federal governments directives on desegregation. In
1993, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the schools were still segregated and ordered the
district to take steps to desegregate them. The decision led to the construction of three additional schools. The
revived case was closed in 1999.

Thompson continues to live in Topeka. She co-owns Brown and Brown Associates, an educational consulting
firm, with her younger sister, Cheryl Brown Henderson. The sisters have spoken of the court case, its
ramifications and their experiences in numerous venues throughout the country. They have also appeared on
several television news programs and were invited to the White House by then-President Bill Clinton.

Terry Lynn Brown
Linda Brown and Her Sister Walking to School
(1953) by Carl Iwasaki (Modern Print). Sisters
Linda and Terry Brown were not allowed to
attend nearby all-white New Summer School
in Topeka, Kansas, but had to walk through the
dangerous Rock Island switchyard to catch a
bus for the all-black Monroe School. On May
17, 1954, in Brown vs. Board of Education of
Topeka, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down
the separate-but-equal doctrine, ending the
legal basis for segregation of public schools.
Wilhelmina Jakes
and Carrie Patterson
Wilhelmina Jakes and Carrie Patterson are credited with igniting the 1956 Tallahassee Bus Boycott.

As students, Jakes and Patterson lived on Jennings Street, so County officials will rename the street Jakes & Patterson
Street in their honor. There will be a celebration and unveiling of the new street sign at 11 a.m. Friday, January 30.

In 1956, Jakes was a 26-year-old Education student from West Palm Beach, Fla., when she and her close friend, Patterson,
a 20-year-old English major from Lakeland, Fla., were arrested for refusing to move to the back of a crowded Tallahassee
city bus.

After sitting in the front of the bus next to a white female passenger, the two brave and defiant FAMU students were
placed under arrest.

When news of their arrest reached the FAMU campus, the student body, under the leadership of Student Government
Association President Brodes Hartley, planned and
initiated the beginning stages of the Tallahassee Bus Boycott, a strategic 10-month long economic protest.

I am extremely honored to participate in recognizing the historic contribution and significant impact of two courageous
admirable advocates for change, said Tallahassee Mayor John Marks.

After graduating from FAMU in 1956, Jakes went on to enjoy a productive and lengthy career as a Florida schoolteacher.
Her first position was as an elementary teacher in Broward County, where she taught for 22 years. She later served 11
years as an educator in Lee County before retiring in the late 1990s.

Patterson graduated from FAMU in 1957. She went on to serve as a teacher for some 12 years at her alma mater,
Rochelle Junior and Senior High School in Lakeland, before her untimely death in 1969.

The recognition for these trailblazing civil rights activists is appropriate and long overdue, said FAMU President James H.
Ammons, Ph.D. The marker and the street will stand as a permanent testament to the sacrifice, diligence and
contributions of these two women. They will also acknowledge the hundreds of other FAMU students, Rev. C.K. Steele,
members of the Inter Civic Council and other members of the local, state, and national community who were unwavering
in their valiant stance against social injustices.

During FAMUs 2006 Spring Commencement activities, both Patterson (posthumously) and Jakes received the Universitys
Distinguished Alumni Award and its first Freedom Award.

Thelma Mothershed Wair (1940-)
Thelma Jean Mothershed Wair made history as a member of the Little Rock Nine, the African-American
students involved in the desegregation of Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The world watched as they
braved constant intimidation and threats from those who opposed desegregation of the formerly all-white high
school. Mothershed was a junior when she entered Central. Despite the fact that she had a cardiac condition
since birth, she had a near perfect record for attendance.
Thelma Mothershed was born on November 29, 1940, in Bloomberg, Texas, to Arlevis Leander Mothershed and
Hosanna Claire Moore Mothershed. Her father was a psychiatric aid at the Veterans Hospital, and her mother
was a homemaker. She has three sisters and two brothers.
Mothershed attended Dunbar Junior High School and Horace Mann High School before transferring to Central
High. Despite daily tormenting from some white students at Central High, she completed her junior year at the
formerly all-white high school during the tumultuous 195758 year. Because the citys high schools were closed
the following year, Mothershed earned the necessary credits for graduation through correspondence courses
and by attending summer school in St. Louis, Missouri. She received her diploma from Central High by mail.
Mothershed graduated from Southern Illinois University at Cabondale in 1964 with a BA in home economics
and earned her MS in Guidance and Counseling Education in 1970; in 1985, she received an administrative
certificate in education from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. She taught home economics in the East
St. Louis school system for twenty-eight years before retiring in 1994.
Mothershed married Fred Wair on December 26, 1965. The couple has one son.
Thelma Wair has also worked at the Juvenile Detention Center of the St. Clair County Jail in St. Clair County,
Illinois, and as an instructor of survival skills for women at the American Red Cross Shelter for the homeless.
During the 198990 school year, the East St. Louis chapter of the Top Ladies of Distinction and the early
childhood/pre-kindergarten staff of District 189 honored her as an Outstanding Role Model.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) awarded her and the other Little
Rock Nine, along with Daisy Bates, the prestigious Spingarn Medal in 1958. In 1999, President Bill Clinton
presented the nations highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal, to the members of the Little Rock
Nine. Wair currently lives in Little Rock (Pulaski County).

Bettye Collier-Thomas (1941-)
The daughter of Joseph Thomas and Katherine (Bishop) Collier, Bettye Marie Collier was born on February 18, 1941, in
Macon, Georgia, the second of three children. Her father, the recipient of a B.S. degree in business from Florida A&M
College and a masters degree from Georgia College, was a business executive and public school teacher. Her mother
attended Florida A&M College and later completed her education at Hunter College. For a number of years she was
employed as a teacher by the Board of Education of the City of New York. Bettye Collier attended elementary schools
in New York, Georgia, and Florida, and high school in Jamaica, New York.
As a third-generation college graduate, Collier-Thomas was born into a family of educators, administrators, morticians,
artisans, and small business owners, graduates of Fort Valley State College, Howard University, Florida A&M College,
Harvard University, Boston University, and other professional schools. Her progenitors include her great-uncle Frank
Richard Veal, a graduate of Howard and Boston Universities, a noted African Methodist Episcopal minister and president
of several colleges and universities; her grandfather William T. Collier, one of the first blacks to work as a building
subcontractor in Georgia and the first to serve on a grand jury in Milledgeville, Georgia; her great-uncle George
Williams, the only black to own and operate a barber shop on the main street in Milledgeville; and her grandmother
Luzella Veal Collier, a teacher and nurse. Collier-Thomas initially thought she would pursue a career in law, but in the
eleventh grade she was inspired by a history teacher at John Adams High School in Jamaica, New York, to become a
Bettye Collier-Thomas received a bachelors degree from Allen University in Columbia, South Carolina, and a masters
degree from Atlanta University. In 1974 she became the first black woman to receive a Ph.D. in history from George
Washington University. During her college career she received many academic awards and honors, including induction
into Alpha Kappa Mu National Honor Society, which was the black Phi Beta Kappa organization during segregation; and
Whos Who in American Colleges and Universities. Collier-Thomas received a Presidential Scholarship to attend Atlanta
University and a Ford Foundation Fellowship for doctoral studies at George Washington University.
An educator and administrator for thirty years, from 1966 to 1976 Collier-Thomas served as a professor and
administrator at Howard University and held faculty positions at Washington Technical Institute and the University of
Maryland, Baltimore County. From 1977 to 1981 she was a special consultant to the National Endowment for the
Humanities, developing the agencys first program of technical assistance to black museums and historical organizations.
From 1977 to 1989 Collier-Thomas served as founding executive director of the Bethune Museum and Archives (BMA).
In 1982 Congress designated this institution a National Historic Site, and in 1993 President George Bush signed
legislation formally incorporating it into the Department of the Interior. From 1989 to the present Collier-Thomas has
served as associate professor of history and director of the Temple University Center for African American History and
Read more: Collier-Thomas, Bettye M. (1941) - African-American History, Archives Founder and Director
Dr. Collier-Thomas' current publications include Sisters in the Struggle: African-American Women in the Civil Rights-Black
Power Movement, My Soul Is a Witness: A Chronology of the Civil Rights Era 1954-1965, Daughters of Thunder: Black Women
Preachers and Their Sermons, 1850-1979 and A Treasury of African American Christmas Stories.
Elizabeth Ann Eckford (1941-)
Elizabeth Ann Eckford made history as a member of the Little Rock Nine, the nine African-American students who
desegregated Little Rock Central High School in 1957. The image of fifteen-year-old Eckford, walking alone through a
screaming mob in front of Central High School, propelled the crisis into the nations living rooms and brought
international attention to Little Rock (Pulaski County).
Elizabeth Eckford was born on October 4, 1941, to Oscar and Birdie Eckford, and is one of six children. Her father
worked nights as a dining car maintenance worker for the Missouri Pacific Railroads Little Rock station. Her mother
taught at the segregated state school for blind and deaf children, instructing them in how to wash and iron for themselves.
On September 4, 1957, Eckford arrived at Central High School alone. The Little Rock Nine were supposed to go
together, but their meeting place was changed the previous night. The Eckford family had no phone, and so Daisy Bates
intended to go to their place early the next day but never made it. As a result, Eckford was alone when she got off the bus
a block from the school and tried to enter the campus twice, only to be turned away both times by Arkansas National
Guard troops, there under orders from Governor Orval Faubus. She then confronted an angry mob of peoplemen,
women, and teenagersopposing integration, chanting, Two, four, six, eight, we aint gonna integrate. Eckford made her
way through the mob and sat on a bus bench at the end of the block. She was eventually able to board a city bus, and
went to her mothers workplace.
Because all of the citys high schools were closed the following year, Eckford did not graduate from Central High School,
but she had taken correspondence and night courses and so had enough credits. She was accepted by Knox College in
Illinois but soon returned to Little Rock to be closer to her parents. She also attended Central State University in
Wilberforce, Ohio, and has a BA in history.
Eckford served in the U.S. Army for five years, serving for her first two as a pay clerk and then, upon reenlisting, worked
as an information specialist and wrote for the Fort McClellan, Alabama, and the Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana,
newspapers. Eckford has held various jobs throughout her life. She has been a waitress, history teacher, welfare worker,
unemployment and employment interviewer, and a military reporter.
Eckford was awarded the prestigious Spingarn Medal by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
(NAACP), as were the rest of the Little Rock Nine and Daisy Bates, in 1958. In 1997, Elizabeth Eckford shared the Father
Joseph Biltz Award (presented by the National Conference for Community and Justice) with Hazel Bryan Massery, a
segregationist classmate who appears in the famous Will Counts photograph, and during the reconciliation rally of 1997,
the two former adversaries made speeches together. In 1999, President Bill Clinton presented the nations highest civilian
award, the Congressional Gold Medal, to the members of the Little Rock Nine. She is currently a probation officer in
Little Rock and is the mother of two sons.

Melba Patillo Beals (1941-)
At age 12, when Melba Pattillo read about the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court
decision, she was hopeful her life would change. She had grown up drinking from a water fountain marked
"colored," riding in the back of the bus and attending separate and inferior Black schools. She daydreamed
about attending the all-white Central High with its massive building covering two square blocks and
standing six stories high. She wanted to avail herself of the opportunities rumored to exist within the
castle-like structure.
In 1957, while most teenage girls were listening to Buddy Holly's "Peggy Sue," watching Elvis gyrate and
collecting crinoline slips, a 15-year-old Melba Pattillo and 8 other black students faced the wrath of
segragionists and the Govenor of Arkansas to become the first black students to enter Central High
School. The civil rights battle which erupted rocked this country, put the world on edge and set Melba's
life forever on a different course. She faced angry, rampant killer mobs and renegade police who forced
then-President Eisenhower to send combat-ready soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division to protect the
lives of the nine students.
At seventeen, Melba began writing articles for major newspapers and magazines. She later earned a
master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and worked as a news reporter for San
Francisco's public television station, KQED, and for the NBC affiliate, KRON-TV. She has written
numerous articles for periodicals including People, Essence and the San Francisco Examiner.
Her best-selling books that chronicle her experiences, WARRIORS DON'T CRY: A Searing Memoir of the
Battle to Integrate Little Rock Central High School and its sequel WHITE IS A STATE OF MIND: Freedom is
Yours to Choose; have provided inspirational reading for millions. Her best-selling primer on public
relations, EXPOSE YOURSELF: Using The Power of Public Relations to Promote Your Business and Yourself, is
an acknowledged industry reference.
In 1998, for their courage and self-sacrifice, the Congress of the United States awarded the Little Rock
Nine America's top civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal. Other recipients of this rarely given
honor - just over 300 in the history of the nation - include President George Washington, the Wright
Brothers, Thomas Edison, Bob Hope, Walt Disney, President Harry S. Truman, General Colin Powell and
Mother Teresa.
Melba Beals is a much sought after keynote speaker for vast and varied audiences who stand and applaud
her informative, dynamic, inspirational, humorous and life-changing speeches. Her diversity seminar, The
Spirit of Diversity: Seeing Equal - Being Equal, are aimed at quelling the fires of conflict due to the
difference in one's race, creed or color.


Carlotta Walls LaNier (1942-)
In 1957, at age 14, Carlotta Walls LaNier was the youngest Little Rock Nine member to integrate Central
High School. This act of courage and defiance became the catalyst for change in the American educational
system. By ushering in a new order, she and her fellow warriors became foot soldiers for freedom.
Despite her youth, Mrs. LaNier understood the impact of education in a promising future. Inspired by
Rosa Parks and the desire to get the best education available, she enrolled in Central High School. Anger
and violent behavior threatened their safety and motivated President Dwight D. Eisenhower to dispatch
the Armys 101st Airborne Division to protect their constitutional rights. She graduated from Little Rock
Central High School in 1960. Mrs. LaNier attended Michigan State University for two years. In 1968, she
graduated from Colorado State College - now the University of Northern Colorado, on whose board of
trustees she sits.
Mrs. LaNier is an active supporter of her community, serving on the Board of Trustees for the University
of Northern Colorado and Iliff School of Theology. She also serves as president of the Little Rock Nine
Foundation and is a member of the Denver Chapter of The Links, Incorporated, and the Johnson Legacy,
Inc. Board of Directors.
In addition to the NAACPs Spingarn Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal, awarded to her as a
member of the Little Rock Nine, Mrs. LaNier is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane
Letters from the University of Northern Colorado and an inductee in the Colorado Womans Hall of
Fame and the Girl Scouts Women of Distinction.
After working for the YWCA, Mrs. LaNier has pursued a successful career as a real estate broker for
more than 30 years and founded her own real estate brokerage firm, LaNier and Company, which she
currently operates, with son Whitney. In addition to her son, she and husband, Ira, have an adult daughter,
Brooke, and lives in Englewood, Colorado.
A sought-after lecturer, Mrs. LaNier speaks across the country and is on a promotional tour of her first
book, A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice of Little Rock Central High School. Fans around the
world have heavily anticipated the release of this gripping memoir from the youngest of the "Little Rock
Nine", which offers an inside look at the most famous school integration in American history, and the
courage and faith required to survive it all.
A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice of Little Rock Central High School is currently pre-selling on Click the book cover below for access. The release date is set for August 25, 2009.


Minnijean Brown Trickey (1942-)
Minnijean Brown Trickey is one of the nine African American students who collectively resisted opposition to the
desegregation to enter Little Rock Central High School in 1957, with protection from federal troops.

Although all of the Nine experienced verbal and physical harassment during their year at Central, Brown was first suspended,
and then expelled for retaliating against the daily torment. She moved to New York and lived with Drs. Kenneth B. And Mamie
Clark, African American psychologists who used their social science findings for the Brown v. Board Supreme Court case. She
graduated from the New Lincoln School in 1959.

Brown attended Southern Illinois University in journalism. She received a Bachelor of Social Work in Native Human Services
from Laurentian University and Master of Social Work at Carleton University, in Ontario Canada.

Minnijean Brown Trickey has worked in various settings committed to peacemaking; environmental issues; developing youth
leadership; diversity education and training; cross-cultural communication; gender and social justice advocacy. She served in
Clinton Administration as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Workforce Diversity at the Department of the Interior. Her
teaching experience in social work includes Carleton University, and community colleges in Canada. She continues as a
teacher, writer and motivational speaker. She is the Shipley Visiting Writer for Heritage Studies at Arkansas State University.

Brown Trickey is the recipient of numerous awards for her community work for social justice, including Lifetime Achievement
Tribute by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, the International Wolf Award for contributions to racial harmony. With
the Little Rock Nine, she received the NAACP Spingarn Medal and the Congressional Gold Medal.

She is the subject of a documentary, Journey to Little Rock: the Untold Story of Minnijean Brown Trickey, which has received critical
acclaim in international film festivals in Africa, the UK, the U.S., South America and Canada. She was featured in People
Magazine, Newsweek, the Ottawa Citizen, the BBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp, Donahue, as well as numerous other
television, radio and print media. She appeared with the Little Rock Nine on Oprah and the Today show.

Gloria Ray Karlmark (1942-)
Gloria Cecelia Ray Karlmark made history as a member of the Little Rock Nine, the nine African-American
students who desegregated Central High School in Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1957. The world watched as
they braved constant intimidation and threats from those who opposed desegregation of the formerly all-white
high school.
Gloria Ray was born on September 26, 1942, in Little Rock, one of the three children of Harvey C. and Julia
Miller Ray. By the time Ray entered Central High, her father was retired from the U.S. Department of
Agriculture, where he had founded the Arkansas Agricultural Extension Service for Negroes, and her mother
was a sociologist working for the state of Arkansas.
Ray was a fifteen-year-old student at all-black Horace Mann High School in Little Rock when she registered to
attend the all-white Central High for her junior year. The Nine were harassed daily by white students at the
school. Ray was tormented by one white student in particular, who called her names and bumped her several
times, once knocking her across the floor. Unable to attend high school in 1958, during the Lost Year when all
of the high schools in Little Rock were closed, Ray moved out of state to finish her high school education. The
family moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where her mother was able to find employment, and Ray graduated from
Kansas City Central High School.
Following high school, Ray attended Illinois Institute of Technology and received a Bachelor of Science degree in
chemistry and mathematics. She worked briefly as a public school teacher and research assistant at the
University of Chicago Research Medical Center. Ray married Krister Karlmark in 1966, and in 1970, she joined
International Business Machines (IBM) Nordic Laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden, where she worked as a
systems analyst and technical writer.
Karlmark graduated from Kungliga Patent & Registreringsverket in Sweden as a patent attorney, and from 1977
until 1981, she worked for IBM International Patent Operations. From 1976 to 1994, Karlmark founded and was
editor-in-chief of Computers in Industry, an international journal of computer applications in industry. In 1994,
Karlmark went to work in the Netherlands for Philips Telecommunications in Hilversum and, later, for Philips
Lighting in Eindhoven. She and her husband have two children, Mats and Elin.
Karlmark, along with Daisy Bates and the rest of the Little Rock Nine, was awarded the prestigious Spingarn
Medal by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1958. In 1999, President
Bill Clinton presented the nations highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal, to the members of the
Little Rock Nine. Karlmark is now retired and lives in Amsterdam.

Dorothy Counts (1942-)
Dorothy Counts was the daughter of a Johnson C. Smith University professor. At age 15,
she became the first black student to attend Charlotte's all-white Harding High School.
This action challenged segregation, the practice of keeping people separated according to
their race.

On September 4, 1957, she and three other students broke the "color barrier" that had
denied them admission to Charlotte's best schools simply because the students were

On that day, an angry crowd greeted Dorothy Counts. People threw rocks and screamed
"Go back where you came from." Reporters and photographers came to witness and
record the conflicts. Violence erupted in other cities where black students tried to enter
all-white schools. Events such as these were part of a long struggle for equality, called "civil

Counts' family was concerned for her safety and sent her to Pennsylvania to finish high

Today, Dorothy Counts Scoggins lives in Charlotte. She is a counselor with Child Care
Charlayne Hunter Gault (1942-)
Charlayne made civil rights history as the first African American woman to graduate from the University
of Georgia in 1962, and has gone on to establish herself as one of television's premier journalists. She
joined The MacNeil/Lehrer Report in 1978 as a correspondent, and became The NewsHour's national
correspondent in 1983. In 1989, she was also a correspondent for MacNeil/Lehrer Productions' five-
part series, Learning in America.
Previously, Charlayne served as a "Talk of the Town" reporter for The New Yorker. After winning a Russell
Sage Fellowship to Washington University, she was on the staff of Trans-Action magazine.
In 1967, she joined the investigative news team at WRC-TV, Washington, D.C., and also anchored the
local evening news. In 1968, Charlayne joined The New York Times as a metropolitan reporter specializing
in coverage of the urban African American community. Her work was honored with many awards during
her ten years at the paper, including the National Urban Coalition Award for Distinguished Urban
Reporting. Charlayne has also been published in The New York Times Magazine, Saturday Review, The New
York Times Book Review, Essence, and Vogue.
During her association with The NewsHour, Charlayne has won additional awards: two Emmys, and a
Peabody for excellence in broadcast journalism for her work on Apartheid's People, a NewsHour series
on South Africa. She also received the 1986 Journalist of the Year Award from the National Association
of Black Journalists; the 1990 Sidney Hillman Award; the Good Housekeeping Broadcast Personality of
the Year Award; the American Women in Radio and Television Award; and two awards from the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting for excellence in local programming.
Charlayne is author of In My Place, (1992), a memoir about her experiences at the University of
She is the recipient of more than two dozen honorary degrees.
Charlayne is married, has two children, and lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.


Patricia Hill Collins (1948-)
Patricia Hill Collins is a social theorist whose research, scholarship and activism have
examined intersecting power relations of race, gender, social class, sexuality and/or nation.
Her first book, Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness, and the Politics of
Empowerment, published in 1990, with a revised tenth year anniversary edition published in
2000, won the Jessie Bernard Award of the American Sociological Association (ASA) for
significant scholarship in gender, and the C. Wright Mills Award of the Society for the
Study of Social Problems. Her second book, Race, Class, and Gender: An Antholog (2004)
edited with Margaret Andersen, and with a seventh edition currently in preparation, is
widely used in undergraduate classrooms in over 200 colleges and universities. Black
Sexual Politics: African Americans, Gender, and the New Racism (Routledge, 2004) received
ASAs 2007 Distinguished Publication Award.
Her other books include Fighting Words: Black Women and the Search for Justice (University
of Minnesota Press, 1998); and From Black Power to Hip Hop: Racism, Nationalism, and
Feminism (Temple University Press, 2005). She has published many articles in professional
journals such as Ethnic and Racial Studies, Signs, Sociological Theory, Social Problems, and Black
Scholar, as well as in edited volumes.

Professor Collins has taught at several institutions, held editorial positions with
professional journals, lectured widely in the United States and abroad, served in many
capacities in professional organizations, and has acted as consultant for a number of
community organizations. She is also Charles Phelps Taft Emeritus Professor of Sociology
within the Department of African American Studies at the University of Cincinnati. In
2007, she was elected the 100th President of the American Sociological Association, the
first African American woman to hold this position in ASAs 104-year history.

Vivian Malone Jones (1942-2005)
Vivian Malone Jones, who on a blisteringly hot June day in 1963 became one of two black students to enroll at the University of Alabama after first being
barred at the door by the defiant governor, George C. Wallace. Her entrance to the university came as the civil rights struggle raged across the South. On
June 12, the day after Ms. Jones and James Hood were escorted into the university by federalized National Guard troops, the civil rights leader Medgar Evers
was shot to death in Jackson, Miss.
On May 30, 1965, Ms. Jones became the first black to graduate from the University of Alabama in its 134 years of existence, earning a degree in business
management with a B-plus average. The performance of Governor Wallace, who stood at the doorway of Foster Auditorium flanked by state troopers,
fulfilled a campaign pledge stop integration at "the schoolhouse door. But historians have written that his defiance was scripted and came with a promise to
federal authorities that he would be brief and would soon comply. At the time, The Tuscaloosa News wrote contemptuously that the governor "squeezed
every suspenseful moment of drama from the occasion."
The students waited in a car as Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, deputy attorney general of the United States, avoided a direct confrontation. He said to Mr.
Wallace: "From the outset, Governor, all of us have known that the final chapter of this history will be the admission of these students. Only after the
federalized guard troops arrived, four and a half hours after Mr. Wallace's initial refusal, were the students admitted. Mr. Wallace read a second statement
challenging the constitutionality of the court order, then briskly left. The students entered Foster Hall, registered, went to their dormitories, ate in the
cafeteria and experienced no further incidents that day.
Vivian Juanita Malone grew up in Mobile, Ala., where she was a member of the National Honor Society in high school.
She earned a bachelor's degree at Alabama A & M, a predominantly black university, but it lost its accreditation. To get an accredited degree, she applied to
the University of Alabama's School of Commerce and Business Administration and was admitted as a junior.
One night at midnight, someone knocked on her dormitory door and told her there was a bomb threat. No bomb materialized, but that November, there
were three bomb blasts at the university, one of them four blocks from her dormitory.
After Mr. Evers was killed, Ms. Jones said she felt even more determined not to give up.
"I decided not to show any fear and went to classes that day," she said in an interview with The Post Standard of Syracuse in 2004.
In the same interview, she said one of her strongest memories of Alabama was that she often smiled at white students, but got no response.
The university hired a driver for her, a student at Stillman College in Tuscaloosa named Mack Jones. They later married, and he became an obstetrician. After
graduating from Alabama, Ms. Jones worked for the United States Justice Department in its civil rights division. She also worked at the Environmental
Protection Agency as director of civil rights and urban affairs and director of environmental justice before retiring in 1996 to sell life insurance.
In 1996, former Governor Wallace presented the Lurleen B. Wallace Award for Courage, named for his late wife, to Ms. Jones. He told her that he made a
mistake 33 years earlier and that he admired her. They discussed forgiveness.
In a speech to University of Alabama graduates in 2000, Ms. Jones suggested one lesson that might be taken from her historic experience: "You must always
be ready to seize the moment."
Angela Davis (1944-)
Angela Davis, radical black activist and philosopher, was arrested as a
suspected conspirator in the abortive attempt to free George Jackson
from a courtroom in Marin County, California, August 7, 1970. The guns
used were registered in her name. Angela Davis was eventually acquitted of
all charges, but was briefly on the FBI's most-wanted list as she fled from
Angela Davis is often associated with the Black Panthers and with the
black power politics of the late 1960s and early 1970s. She joined the
Communist Party when Martin Luther King was assassinated in 1968. She
was active with SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee)
before the Black Panthers. Angela Davis ran for U.S. Vice President on the
Communist Party ticket in 1980.
Angela Davis has been an activist and writer promoting women's rights and
racial justice while pursuing her career as a philosopher and teacher at the
University of Santa Cruz and San Francisco University -- she achieved
tenure at the University of California at Santa Cruz though former
governor Ronald Reagan swore she would never teach again in the
University of California system. She studied with political philosopher
Herbert Marcuse. She has published on race, class, and gender (see below).

June E. Johnson (1947-2007)
June E. Johnson was born in Greenwood, Mississippi to the late Theoda and Lula Bell Johnson, Sr. on
December 31, 1947. Her parents hosted visiting SNCC (Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee)
workers for many years. June was raised by her maternal grandmother Emily Johnson Holt who also
preceded her in death.

June began attending SNCC meetings in her early teens after seeing a flyer about a mass meeting at
one of the local churches. Robert (Bob) Moses convinced her parents to allow June to attend the
meeting and subsequent voter registration workshops. In June 1963, after attending a voter
registration workshop, June was arrested and beaten in jail in Winona, Mississippi along with Mrs. Fannie
Lou Hamer, Euvester Simpson, Annelle Ponder, James West and others.

June worked as a paralegal for North Mississippi Rural Legal Services (1972-73). Throughout 1970s she
was actively involved in lawsuits aimed at stopping racist practices of Greenwood city and Leflore
county governments as named plaintiff and as paralegal investigator.

With Marion Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund, June drew attention to failures of
Mississippi anti-poverty agencies and investigated Mississippi prison conditions. In 1978, she was the first
African-American woman candidate for Leflore County Board of Supervisors.

June moved to Washington, D.C., in 1982, worked in city government for the Office of Paternity and
Child Support Enforcement (1983-86), and as a home hospital teacher. From 1995 until September
2006 (after health began to fail her) June was the program monitor in the Office of Early Childhood
Development and served as first Vice-President of the Washington, D.C., Ward 6 Democrats.

She was a research consultant for the film Freedom Song (2000), about Mississippi SNCC workers and
lead consultant for the documentary Standing on My Sisters Shoulders, a film documenting her civil rights
activism, along with fellow activists Dorie Ladner, Fannie Lou Hamer, Victoria Gray
Adams, Annie Devine, Lawrence Guyot and others. Additionally, she is featured in a documentary
produced by American Public Radio entitled Mississippi Becomes A Democracy.

Continuing her consultations to various organizations and institutions right up to her death, June
provided information that few spoke of or cared to share. She never stopped planning on how to get
accurate information out about the civil rights movement. She often recalled Mrs. Hamer called me to
her bedside when she was dying and told me all about her unfinished business. "I gave Blood with this
lady, do you understand me?!
Ruby Bridges (1954-)
On the morning of her first day at William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans,
Ruby Bridges' mother told her: "Now I want you to behave yourself today, Ruby, and don't
be afraid." And Ruby and her mother went to the school, where so many people were
outside, shouting and throwing things that the little girl thought it must be Mardi Gras.
She seemed to be remembering her mother's words as she entered the school without
showing any fear at all, despite the fact that it was 1960, there were U.S. Marshals walking
beside her, and she was the first black child to enter an all-white school in the history of
the American South. It was in 1960 that a federal court ordered the desegregation of
schools in the south, and although Ruby Bridges' father thought she could get a perfectly
good education at an all-black elementary school, Ruby Bridges' mother insisted that her
daughter pave the way for other black children in the newly-integrated school system.
Charles Burks, one of the U.S. Marshals who escorted Ruby Bridges and her mother into
the school building, remembers the little girl who became a hero. "She showed a lot of
courage. She never cried. She didn't whimper. She just marched along like a little soldier.
And we're all very proud of her." The first year, all the parents of Frantz Elementary pulled
their children out of school to protest the integration.
As a result, Ruby Bridges spent her first year in a class of one. The teacher, a woman from
Boston, was one of the few white instructors who was willing to teach a black child. She
and Ruby Bridges showed up for school every single day that year, and they held class as if
there were no angry mob outside, no conflict over a little girl attending first grade. Ruby
Bridges family suffered from the bigotry of the times. Her father lost his job as a result of
the controversy, and her grandparents lost their place as tenant farmers.