The Year in Civil Rights Review: Highlights of 2010

February             Discover that photographer Bob Fitch has dozens of photos from Wilcox County 1966, just six months after I returned to San Francisco State. I take them to be identified when we go to Camden in March. Long time activist Mrs. Rosetta Anderson and her son John can name nearly everyone.

Mrs. Rosetta Anderson - "Mother of the Camden Civil Rights Movement"

We hang out at Miz Kitty’s cafe where the coroner, county clerk and tax assessor add more names and stories to our collection.

February 29-March 7th            45th Anniversary Commemorative March & Mass Meeting at Antioch Baptist Church, Camden Alabama. Every minute is a highlight: reunion with John Matthews, Alma King, and W. Kate Charley, meet BAMA Kids Director Sheryl Threadgill who was a student leader and whose entire family were heroes of The Wilcox County Movement. Sim Pettway, whose family was chased out of town came back to speak movingly along with many other fearless civil rights veterans who met and marched together for the first time in decades. Shelly Dale who was imprisoned in Camp Camden along with hundreds of student protesters is now tax assessor, Betty Anderson is third generation African American business person, Don Brown of Gees Bend whose father filed and won an early voting rights lawsuit is a barber, farmer & preacher. Ralph Ervin became a respected photographer and county clerk. We also met Sheriff Prince Arnold, the first black sheriff in the US who retires this year.I finally met my author friend, Dr. Lewis V. Baldwin who gave a Dr. King worthy speech at the Mass Meeting in this church where I spent my first night in Alabama back in June 1965. We honor dear Ethel Brooks with a brief private ceremony at the bridge where she crashed. Wilcox County 45th Anniversary Commemorative Mass Meeting & March from Historical Antioch Baptist Church

March 6-7,             Selma, Alabama            Long time friends and civil rights veterans Charles Bonner and Luke Block joined our Camden contingent of Wilcox County Freedom Fighters as we march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in a re-enactment of historic Bloody Sunday as part of the annual Selma Jubilee.

Our Wilcox County Freedom Fighters contingent included three generations of the Bob & Georgia Crawfords of Pine Apple including my sister-friend Joy Crawford Washington. Surprise of the day was reuniting with Robert Powell, student leader who canvassed with me back in the day. BAMA Kids and NCNW members kept the pace. Brave Mary Alice Robinson revisited the scene of her Bloody Sunday attack for the first time.

March 27            San Francisco Bay Area Veterans celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of SNCC at the public library all afternoon with speeches, reading and song.

Celebrating 50 Years of Civil Rights Action

April 18            Twenty of my closest activist friends gather at our home to share stories of what we each were doing 45 years ago during the Selma marches.

July 1            Finally complete what I hope is the final draft of my manuscript and send an inquiry to a reputable mid-size publisher. They ask to see the manuscript. Hurray!  Quickly, I realize I need to edit it yet again and then, put it into their required format, not one of my strengths.

July 26            Manuscript acknowledged as received. I am warned that the review takes time. Patience is not one of my virtues.

August-November            Get Out the Vote canvassing for progressive Democratic candidates. How many years have I been door-knocking? 46? I meet wonderful young activists and most of our candidates win at the local and state level. Long-time friend Daniel Dodge becomes Mayor of Watsonville and Luis Alejo is elected California State Assembly member. November 2010 Elections

Oct 16                        The publisher replies that they are still in process. I wonder what their process is but am hopeful.

November 6, 2010            University of San Francisco. We attend a book Reading and Celebration of “Hands on the Freedom Plow”, an anthology of 52 SNCC women who worked on the front lines of the Southern Freedom Fight. Most of the contributors living on the West Coast attended: Jane Bond Moore, Cathy Cade, Peggy Dammond Preacely, Betita Martinez, Maria Varela, and Jean Wiley. Faith Holsaert, a contributor and one of the six editors who told of the 15 years it took to get this book compiled and published helped me realize how fortunate I am.  In only three years I was able rediscover so many people who contributed to my memoir and oral history This Little Light of Mine, This Bright Light of Ours. And the first press I approached has expressed interest.  The SNCC women’s book is absolutely marvelous!

We celebrate in San Francisco with SNCC leader Charles Bonner as he tells us about his book on child sex slavery, The Bracelet.

December 29            Interviewees phone and write to ask when the book will be out. I let them know that it has not yet been accepted and that I remain patient and hopeful.

President Barack Obama writes thanks for my support and contributions over the past year, countless hours of telephoning for comprehensive health care reform, the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the START treaty and more.  I must have clicked and donated one too many times!

During the year my father-in-law, two favorite Uncles and a favorite Aunt, and my dear friend Chikurin Takae passed away, leaving behind legacies of love and gifts of courage. With steadfast support and encouragement from my beloved Samuel, I press on.  By year end, I am in better health and spirits than when I began. My mortality is undeniable as I apply for MediCare this year, but I wouldn’t trade any part of my life for the privilege of having served in the southern civil rights movement in 1965. I am full of gratitude. Happy New Year!

Please add your own comments and the civil rights highlights of your 2010 Thank you!

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