On March 31, 1965, Wilcox County students were peacefully demonstrating for their parents’ voting rights when they were attacked with smoke bombs by the sheriff’s posse, just outside the Camden City limits. This demonstration was organized at the request of the students, by Daniel Harrell and Major Johns, the two SCLC field directors who later directed my SCOPE project. There was a group that marched from St. Francis church outside the city limits and another that came down the hill from Camden Academy. The St. Francis group included young people from Gees Bend, Coy and other small county communities.
Update May 28, 2013: Thanks to Elbert Goode who identified the student in the center of the photo is Willie Parker of Coy, AL. May he rest in peace, knowing that he fought the good fight. Let’s find those two young women – thanks for your assistance! Please leave a comment if you know their names. This image discovered that the image is owned by the Associated Press, and was taken by the late great Bill Hudson, one of the top civil rights photographers. I have licensed the use of the image for my forthcoming book,This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting Rights Fight, University of Alabama Press. Estimated publication date: February 15, 2014.
May everyone, especially children, be safe and secure, as we continue to work and to demonstrate for a nonviolent and equitable world. Paz.
Willie Parker is the young man in the picture. Willie is now deceased but is from Coy, Alabama. His parents are the late Willie and Ellen Parker
Dear Elbert, Thank you so much! We knew that some of the students were from Coy and Gees Bend. It is great to have Willie identified for the book cover. Do you know anyone else there you can show the photo to see if they know the young lady and little girl facing the camera? My friends from Selma arrived the next day, and I arrived more than a month later, to support the students and adults in the Freedom Fight. Thanks again!
Hello Maria: Very interested in what you are doing – Just talked to some of my classmates about the 1965 demostration & our classmate that’s in the picture is Willie Parker. The class of 1965 was very instramental in starting the movement, which happen to be my graduating class.
Yes Elbert, Your class with Ralph Eggleston, Sim Pettway and many others was the first to take the lead in student demonstrations in Wilcox County. Thank you for identifying Willie Parker from Coy. I hope your other classmates will leave a comment and help identify the other students. You began an important Movement and should all be recognized for your contributions to the Freedom Fight. – Maria