On Tuesday, February 12, Lynda Lowery will stream live from Selma,
Ala. to speak about unsung heroines in the movement at the Still I Rise:
Legacies of Women in the Civil Rights Movement program presented by the
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Association. The program begins
at 8:30 p.m. in the Main Lounge and is open to the public.
It’s been fifty years since civil rights activist, Lynda Lowery,
first joined a group of teenage radicals in her hometown of Selma, Ala.
Today, she is remembered as the youngest activist in the historic 1965
march from Selma to Montgomery, Ala.
Nicknamed "Gofer," Lowery, who was the youngest of the group, was
tasked not only with fetching sodas and snacks, but was also responsible
for calling the parents of those teenagers who were jailed for their
involvement in non-violence movements.
In 1963, her role as "Gofer" changed to that of civil rights activist
at the age of 13 after she heard Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
speak at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in town about the civil rights
Though Lowery knew only of non-violence petitions, she says Dr. King was inspiring.
"His voice was like a mother soothing the cuts after you've scraped your knee. He made you feel very comfortable," she explains.
For the next two years, Lowery was trained and taught the ideologies
of the civil rights movement. Between January 1 and March 7, 1965,
Lowery was jailed a total of nine times.
"You went to jail with your friends and even the kids you didn't know
from out of town. We were all a family," says Lowery. "There were
usually two marches, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. We
would leave jail in the morning and join the afternoon march."
However, this didn’t stop Lowery.
On March 7, 1965, also known as "Bloody Sunday," Lowery left Brown
Chapel AME Church with hundreds of civil rights marchers to cross the
Edmund Pettus Bridge.
Met by angry segregation supporters and county sheriffs on horseback
spraying tear gas, Lowery endured a few blows to the eye as well as the
head. She received 28 stiches at the Good Samaritan Hospital.
Two days later, on March 9, 1965, also known as "Turnaround Tuesday,"
Lowery joined the second march led by Dr. King. This time marchers
successfully crossed the bridge.
On March 21, 1965, a day before her 15th birthday, Lowery joined the
third march headed to Montgomery, Ala. as the youngest activist. "I marched to Montgomery because I had to show Governor George
Wallace what he did to me at the young age of 14," says Lowery,
referring to her physical scars.
While Governor Wallace never confronted the marches on that day,
Lowery says the fight was worth the progress the black community has
"Not only was I able to see the first and second inauguration of
President Barack Obama, our first black president, I voted for him both
times," she explains, "a right I fought for in those marches."
Today, Lowery shares her experiences with the youth in effort to mobilize their involvement in their community.
"The Selma movement was a children's movement. Children marched and
went to jail so parents wouldn't lose their jobs or income," she
explains. "Pick your battle and stick with it. There is something for
everyone to do individually and collectively."
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