Stories from a Teenage Civil Rights Worker

Wilcox County Freedom Fighters in Mobile

Wilcox County Freedom Fighters James Anderson, Sim Pettway, Rosetta Anderson, Maria Gitin and Joy Crawford-Washington after Maria’s presentation at University of South Alabama Tuesday evening. Living history was enjoyed by students, faculty and community members. Thank you Dr. Martha Jane Brazy and Joy Crawford-Washington!

Fox News 10 Mobile & Montgomery news anchor Eric Reynolds interviewed Maria and shared part of her story March 8, 2102

“Great interview Maria. You were wonderful!” – Charles Bonner, SNCC

4 comments on “Stories from a Teenage Civil Rights Worker

  1. Alicia Slaughter says:

    Hello Maria,
    My aunts, Mary Ellen and Sylvia live in Mobile, AL and their children, Jeremiah Newell and Claire Watson, graduated recently from the University of South Alabama. Jeremiah is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the University. They are all planning to come hear you speak next Tuesday.

    Here is mother’s story:
    My mother’s name when she lived in Camden, AL was Mamie Ratcliffe. Her mother is Clara Ratcliffe. My mom was a thin girl with very light skin and sandy brown/red hair. She graduated from Camden Academy in 1967. Her sisters Annie Bell Ratcliffe, Mary Ellen Ratcliffe, and Sylvia Snowden also graduated from Camden academy, but they are younger than Mamie, so they graduated in ’70 and ’71.

    My mom marched in the 1965 (around the month of March) march to the court house in Camden. That was her last march because they threatened her aunt, Virginia Newberry, with loss of her job if my mom were to march again. Virginia Newberry was raising my mother at the time. She was a teacher. My mom tells me stories all the time about the threats and intimidation that kept some of the older people from willingly protesting.

    Thank you,
    Alicia Slaughter


    • Maria Gitin says:

      Alicia, thank you and your mother for sharing more of your story. Here is more of what you wrote to me to share with others

      “My mother told me that she rode her uncle’s mule from Whiskey Run our to Canton Bend [an area where Robert Powell and Maria Gitin canvassed for voters] many days. She too, was chased by Klansmen sometimes, just for being a lone black girl on a mule, regardless of whether or not she was doing anything political.
      My mother was 15 years old the summer of 1965. She met nearly all of the Freedom Riders who were in Camden at that time. Yes she remembers the people coming from Atlanta [when you did] and she also remembers Dr. Martin Luther King coming and marching to the courthouse in Camden.” – Alicia Slaughter, daughter of Mamie Ratcliffe


  2. I attended Maria’s lecture/presentation at the University of South Alabama. I was so impressed by her willingness to serve during this very dangerous time in our history to help others. Her passion, compassion, and love for the people of Wilcox County shines through in her lecture. I count it a privilege to meet someone who is so genuine and is part of living history. I can’t wait until she returns with her new book. Thanks for everything, Maria.


  3. Leonard Hal says:

    Dear Maria:
    It was such a pleasure talking to you this morning. It is not often that someone comes into your life and brings so much happiness. Even though I have never met you I feel like you are part of my family. I know that your book will do justice to Dan’s memory and the other un-sung hero’s and heroines.
    May Dan’s spirit continue to be with you and hopefully one day soon we will meet.
    With love and respect
    Leonard Hal (brother of Daniel Harrell)


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