MLK Institute at Stanford to Hosted Maria Gitin “This Bright Light of Ours” Talk January 28th

Maria Gitin speaking at Stanford University Jan 28, 2014

Maria Gitin speaking at Stanford University Jan 28, 2014

Thanks to Dr. Tenisha Armstrong for planning "This Bright Light of Ours" program at Stanford

Thanks to Dr. Tenisha Armstrong for planning “This Bright Light of Ours” program at Stanford

This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting Rights Fight

DEC 18 2014
Maria Gitin, civil rights veteran and author, will be coming to Stanford on January 28th, 2015 to discuss her new book, This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting RIghts Fight.

In 1965, as a college freshman, Gitin answered King’s call for students to come to the South after the attack on voting rights marchers in Selma on Bloody Sunday. She has continued to fight for racial justice and to register voters in diverse communities for more than four decades. Gitin is a current member of Bay Area Civil Rights Veterans , Temple Beth El, and the NAACP. She holds a B.A. from Antioch University (1979) and did undergrad work at San Francisco State College (1964-1967). For twenty-eight years, she was principal of Maria Gitin & Associates development consulting group. She is a frequent presenter on cultural competency and voting rights, and has received numerous racial justice awards and commendations including from the YWCA, NAACP, State of California Assembly, Alabama House of Representatives, and US Congressman Sam Farr.

The talk took place from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Henry and Monique Brandon Family Community Room of the Black Community Services Center on campus. This event was sponsored by the Black Community Services Center, the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute.

maria_gitin_-_final.pdflorez Final book coverJkt_Gitin_final

MLK was counting on “The Supreme Court” and other “Outsiders”

From my notes the SCLC SCOPE Orientation in Atlanta in early June 1965, paraphrasing what King said about the pending 1965 Voting Rights Act:  I was 19 years old at the time.)

In the evening, the event we had all been waiting for occurred. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. came into town. He rode in a parade, headed by a band of small boys beating drums. Wherever he goes hoards of people follow him. He is indeed the leader of The Movement. When he rose to speak a hush fell over the audience. He didn’t yell and he didn’t shout but what he said gripped our hearts, and our souls and our minds. This is par to what he said: History is being made here. It is the students who are making history now. People have reached the end of their patience. With non-violence we found a new ally for freedom that black and white together can use. New York has abolished the death penalty and taken strong civil rights measures because of student nonviolent pressure. SCLC believes in the value of student groups and for this reason has organized SCOPE. We are here because we are humanitarians and patriots. The depreciation of the Negro has affected our nation drastically. The older generation is lost because it hasn’t achieved democracy. We are the Hopeful Generation because we can face the racists in Montgomery. The 1965 Voting Rights Bill will give government sanction to “outsiders.” The Supreme Court and Washington, DC are outsiders. People say it is sacrilege to use churches for civil rights meetings, but Thomas Paine and Paul Revere used churches. SCOPE workers are wanted and needed by the community. If people say you are crazy—maybe they are right . . . but it is “creative maladjustment.” Don’t be satisfied with less than Freedom. © Maria Gitin, all rights reserved

Dr King Kicks off Alabama Vote Drive 1965

January 30, 1965-Alabama

New Vote Drive in Ala Counties

Jan 30 1965An article in the Chicago Defender by John Lynch (dateline January 30, 1965 Atlanta GA) mentions Wilcox County as one of the Alabama counties that SCLC is targeting. The article states that zero blacks are registered in Wilcox, although by the time we arrived to work on voter registration that summer, 50 voters had successfully completed applications. Whether or not they were later “purged” as a then-common obstructionist tactic, I do not know.

I have assembled a Wilcox County Civil Rights Timeline that space will not allow to be included in my forthcoming book, This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Wilcox County Freedom Fight, and will be adding key events until next year when the book will be published by University of Alabama Press. If you recall other key events in Wilcox County 1963-1966, please write them in the comment link below. Thank you for helping to commemorate some of the forgotten events of the civil rights struggle and the special role of the Wilcox County AL Freedom Fighters. – Maria Gitin