Freedom Movement Stories of People in Struggle – San Francisco Sunday May 5, 2013

crowd _MG_3719_1jimmy garett_MG_3732_1maria gitin bruce hartford_MG_3663_1stuart house _MG_3683_1_MG_3660_1

Vets singing Freedom Songs   Jimmy Garrett        Maria Gitin, Bruce Hartford    Stu House          Maria with Jimmy Rogers, Kathy Emory

The Museum of the African Diaspora (MOAD) Presents an afternoon of stories from the Freedom Fight

Sunday May 5, 2013

2:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Birmingham Childrens Crusade - Young Warriors.  www.crmvet.org

Birmingham Childrens Crusade – Young Warriors.
http://www.crmvet.org

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Birmingham “Children’s Crusade,” please join us for an afternoon of story telling about the people we knew and worked with and the events we experienced in the Southern Freedom Movement of the 1960s. Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement will share personal short stories with families, friends and all those who are interested in the hidden histories of ordinary people who fought for justice with extraordinary courage. www.moadsf.org/.  $10 museum admission ($5 for seniors)

Bay Area Veterans of the Civil Rights Movement (BayVets) is an organization of former civil rights workers who were active in the Southern Freedom Movement of the 1960s as staff and volunteers for SNCC, SCLC, CORE, and the NAACP. Today, BayVets works to educate the public about the history and issues of the Civil Rights Movement through speaking engagements, events, and a nationally-recognized website (www.crmvet.org) that documents the history and personal stories of the Freedom Movement. I, and others Bay Area Vets are available to speak to conferences, schools and in other venues. Arrangements are made personally with each speaker. For a list of speakers and their contacts http://www.crmvet.org/vet/speakers.htm
I will share a brief story and historic photos from my friend, former Camden Academy student leader and continuing civil right activist in Mobile, AL, Sim Pettway Sr.  Sim Pettway Sr tells how his family was forced to flee copy

Museum Location

Museum of the African Diaspora
685 Mission Street (at Third)
San Francisco, California 94105
phone: 415.358.7200

Nonviolent Protesters Attacked by Elected Officials with Smoke Bombs – Camden AL Wed March 31, 1965

On March 31, 1965, Wilcox County, AL student and adult demonstrators conducted a dual march to protest lack of voting rights and school inequality. Previous marches, led by locals with invited guests Dr. Martin Luther King Jr of SCLC and John Lewis of SNCC, had managed to secure permits. Denied permits without “out of town” celebrity leaders, the locals determined to proceed with their march. Mayor Reg Albritton and local white men recruited to form a sheriff’s posse attacked marchers by throwing smoke bombs in their route. Local authorities used smoke bombs and tear gas interchangeably to confuse and frighten demonstrators. Experienced demonstrators carried wet towels to help clear stinging tear gas from their eyes.

Student leaders Sim Pettway Sr and Ralph Eggleston of Camden Academy organized this particular march along with adult leaders Daniel Harrell and Major Johns, SCLC field directors who later directed our SCOPE project. One group marched from St. Francis church on Highway 221 the city limits and another that came down the hill on the opposite side of town with a plan to demonstrate in front of the courthouse. Students and adults from Camden, Coy, Gees Bend, and Boling Springs came from St Francis, while students marched from Camden Academy, a K-12 Presbyterian Mission School for Black students.

Thanks to Elbert Goode, we know that the central male student is the late Willie Parker of Coy, AL. This photo was taken by the late great Bill Hudson, one of the top civil rights photographers of the era and is copyright by the Associated Press. I have licensed the use of the image for my forthcoming book, This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Wilcox County Freedom Fight, University of Alabama Press, 2014.cover book draft

May Daniel Harrell, Major Johns, Willie Parker and all of the foot soldiers of the Wilcox County Freedom Fight who died too young rest in peace knowing that they fought the good fight and that they are remembered.

If you participated in this demonstration or can identify the two young women facing the camera, please leave a comment by clicking on the comment link below. Let’s find those two young women – thanks for your assistance!

© Maria Gitin. All rights reserved.