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"I consider myself to be a witness... a living witness for the civil rights movement." Watch
"Don’t you ever stereotype anybody by virtue of their age, their color, what they look like or where they are, because you never, ever know!" Watch
One time Becky's friend saw me with Becky on their circular porch, playing. She came up to Becky and curiously inquired who the "colored girl" was and why Becky was playing with me. Becky shared who I was and before she could finished the introduction, her friend commented that she had heard that colored people had "tails" like monkeys and asked if Becky had seen my tail. Read her story »
I remember the stories of my mother sitting at length at lunch counters in order to be a white person who did not get up and leave when an African American came to sit and attempt to be served. A cross was burned on our yard, and a bullet broke our windshield while my mother was driving the car with me in the passenger seat. My mother said it was a rock that was thrown up into the windshield, and it was only years later that she told me the truth. Read her story »
New York, NY
My Uncle Frank was a pantyhose salesman who had just left a client. He had observed the police beating up on a young boy who was allegedly accused of stealing fruit. My uncle asked the police, "What did the young boy do?" and the police beat my uncle so bad that his eyeball was smashed. They then left him in the precinct for hours before he was sent to a hospital. Read her story »
On Aug. 3, 2004, AARP set out on a 70-day bus tour, through 22 states, to gather the extraordinary stories of ordinary people who played a role, both big and small, in the civil rights movement. The effort resulted in a collection of thousands of personal stories, oral histories and photographs. Through the collaborative effort of AARP, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) and the Library of Congress, the collection was donated to the Library of Congress to create the Voices of Civil Rights exhibit. Housed at the American Folk Life Center of the Library of Congress, the exhibit documents key moments in the civil rights movement.
In honor of the upcoming 50th anniversaries of the assassination of Medgar Evers (6/12/63), the March on Washington (8/28/63) and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (7/2/64), AARP revisited the vast collection of amazing civil rights stories housed within the Voices of Civil Rights exhibit. Of the thousands of eye-opening stories, we selected six poignant recollections to share with the public in a nationwide campaign.