Laurie Toby Edison

Photographer

Freedom’s Sisters

Laurie says:

The Freedom’s Sisters Exhibition is at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.  The website is an exhibition in it’s own right.

Much of our national memory of the civil rights movement is embodied by male figureheads whose visibility in boycotts, legal proceedings, and mass demonstrations dominated newspaper and television coverage in the 1950s and 1960s. While less prominent in the media, a group of extraordinary women also shaped much of the spirit and substance of civil rights in America, just as their mothers and grandmothers had done for decades. That … brings to life 20 African American women. The women range from key 19th century historical figures to contemporary leaders who have fought for equality for people of color.

The National Civil Rights Museum is … at the Lorraine Motel, the assassination site of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It chronicles key episodes of the American civil rights movement and the legacy of this movement to inspire participation in civil and human rights efforts globally. The Freedom’s Sisters exhibit runs through 2013.

Melissa Harris-Perry did a tour of the exhibition that’s fascinating

It was hard to decide which women I would blog about here since all of them are remarkable heroes.

Septima Poinsette Clark was any early civil rights warrior in the 19th century that I have always admired.


The photo is from Brian Lanker’s book I Dream a World: Portraits of Black Women Who Changed America.  The book is a series of superb fine art portraits.

Clark is known as the “Grandmother of the Civil Rights Movement” because of her work for equal access to education and civil rights for African Americans several decades before the rise of national awareness of racial inequality. In 1919, she became involved in the NAACP and persuaded community members to sign petitions to allow blacks to become principals in Charleston’s public schools and enjoyed the legal victory when they were given that right. Clark was later fired from her job because of a legislature that banned city and state employees from being involved with civil rights organizations.

I heard Barbara Jordan‘s speech at the 1976 Democratic Convention.  It knocked me out.  She was a stunning, charismatic, forceful and cogent speaker.

 

A champion of the poor and disadvantaged, Jordan sponsored the Workmen’s Compensation Act, increasing maximum benefits paid to injured workers and the renewal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. She won a seat in the Texas Senate in 1966 becoming the first African American state senator since 1883 and the first black woman to serve in that body. Jordan was considered by President Jimmy Carter for Attorney General or Ambassador to the United Nations, but chose to remain in the U.S. House. She received national recognition for becoming the first African American to keynote a major political convention in 1976.

 

Ida B. Wells is someone whose life I’ve be interested in for years.  Wells was amazingly brave in her long battle against  lynching at a time when it was extremely dangerous. She was an impressive and powerful speaker and traveled nationally and internationally on lecture tours.

Civil rights advocate, fearless anti-lynching crusader, suffragist, women’s rights advocate, journalist and speaker, Wells became a public figure in Memphis in 1884 when she led a campaign against segregation on the local railway. She was asked by the conductor to give up her seat on the train to a white man and ordered into the smoking or “Jim Crow” car. Wells refused to give up her seat and the conductor, assisted by two other men, dragged her out of the car. She hired an attorney and sued the railroad company. In 1910, she helped to form the NAACP and founded the Alpha Suffrage Club of Chicago.

Go to the website and check it all out.

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Laurie Toby Edison by Carol Squires

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