At the age of 12, Marilyn Loewen joined Detroit Brotherhood Youth Council in swim-ins at segregated "Crystal Pool." In high school, she joined in daily picket lines at Woolworth's in solidarity with Southern student sit-ins there beginning in February 1960. In 1962, she began attending Bennington College and joined the Northern Student Movement (NSM), leaving college to work full-time with NSM's Harlem Education Project (HEP). Loewen returned to Detroit in 1964 and worked with Detroit Friends of SNCC while attending Wayne State University. She headed to south to work in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) photo department in 1965 before heading to Mississippi to work as a resource teacher with the Child Development Group of Mississippi (CDGM), but a car accident interrupter her trip which put her in Selma, Alabama's Good Samaritan Hospital and then more hospital time in Detroit.
Finally landing in Mississippi late that summer, she began working with CDGM's Living Arts Project and helped establish CDGM centers in Panola County, where she had the honor of boarding with the legendary Robert & Mona Miles family of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP). She traveled through most of the state giving workshops on using creative movement and music to enrich early childhood learning experiences, emphasizing traditional Mississippi African-American ring songs and games. Loewen spent most of her time in Neshoba and Leake Counties, working closely with Freedom Summer heroine Mrs. Winson Hudson, helping to write her unpublished autobiography, "A Lonely Walk to the Courthouse," up until her passing in 2004. Loewen also worked on rural school integration lawsuits as head of the Leake County NAACP and pioneer in guaranteeing equal access in healthcare and federal housing loans.
Copyright © Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement Inc., 2006.
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