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Voices from the Civil Rights Movement
January 17, 2022
To commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day and celebrate Black History Month, the Museum assembled a special series of civil rights-related oral histories: Voices from the Civil Rights Movement.
Represented in these interviews are the major civil rights organizations from the early 1960s, including the NAACP, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). They also include powerful memories of several key moments of the Civil Rights Movement, including the Freedom Rides, March on Washington, Selma to Montgomery march and SCOPE Project (Summer Community Organizing and Political Education) organized by the SCLC.
Dr. Wornie Reed
As a student at Alabama State University, Reed took part in the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955-56. After moving to Washington, D.C., he participated in the 1963 March on Washington and the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign and became active with SNCC and the Black Power movement. Reed was acquainted with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for several years and attended his funeral in Atlanta.
A former PBS programming executive, Lawson grew up near Birmingham, Alabama, and was first arrested during a civil rights march in May 1963. She eventually left Tuskegee University to become a full-time field secretary for SNCC. Working in Lowndes County, Alabama, Lawson helped create a series of comic books and billboards to promote voter education in 1966.
Dr. David Fankhauser
While attending Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, Fankhauser became a civil rights Freedom Rider and was arrested in Jackson, Mississippi, in May 1961. He was incarcerated in a state penitentiary for forty-two days alongside fellow activist Stokely Carmichael.
Betty Daniels Rosemond
While attending high school in New Orleans, Rosemond met Dr. King and became locally active with CORE. As a CORE Freedom Rider in 1961, she nearly lost her life to a mob during a stop in Poplarville, Mississippi. Rosemond participated in several non-violent protests in the early 1960s and was arrested during a restaurant sit-in in Alexandria, Virginia.
Thomas M. Armstrong
As a student at Tougaloo College in Mississippi from 1959 to 1963, Armstrong was active in civil rights demonstrations and voter registration drives. He worked with NAACP activist Medgar Evers and participated in the 1961 Freedom Rides. Armstrong is the author of Autobiography of a Freedom Rider: My Life as a Foot Soldier for Civil Rights (2011).
As a student at San Francisco State College, Gitin spent the summer of 1965 participating in the SCOPE project of the SCLC. She is the author of This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting Rights Fight (2014).
Lynda Blackmon Lowery
An Alabama native dedicated to civil rights since childhood, Lowery was arrested nine times prior to her fifteenth birthday. After being brutally beaten in Selma on “Bloody Sunday,” March 7, 1965, she was the youngest among the 300 civil rights activists to complete the five-day, 54-mile march from Selma to Montgomery. Lowery is author of the award-winning children’s book, Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom (2015).