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In the sticky summer of 1963, Shirley Green-Reese snuck out of the house to go to a protest. She was 14 years old, a black girl from Americus, Georgia, and she had lived under Jim Crow her entire life. She didn’t think of herself as an activist, but she had heard the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King speak on television. “I was in tune with it. I believed in it,” Dr. Green-Reese, who went on to earn a PhD and become an Americus city council member, told me recently. “My girlfriend and I decided to go to the mass meeting at Friendship Baptist Church because I wanted to get involved.”
They left while Dr. Green-Reese’s parents were out running errands downtown. It was July 15th. The girls wouldn’t see their homes again until September.
Imprisonment - Conditions - Student - Nonviolent - Coordinating
Instead, they endured false imprisonment under heinous conditions, only being released after the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee found them, photographed them, and drew attention to their case.
Dr. Green-Reese is one of thousands of African Americans, many of them children, who put their lives on the line in a fight for freedom during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s. Some of those people are famous. But many more, including Dr. Green-Reese, have gone largely unnoticed by the media and history textbooks. That’s especially true for women, and really anyone who didn’t fit the Mad Men-era model of what a leader should look like.
People - Beatings - Fire - Hoses - Fear
These people endured beatings, fire hoses, and fear. They lived under chronic and acute stress. Even the Southern black people who didn’t participate in protests lived under conditions not unlike those of a genocidal war zone, says Ruth Thompson-Miller, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Dayton. White people, after all, sometimes bought tickets to see lynchings.
The enduring mental and physical impacts...
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