As a very young girl, I inadvertently became active in the Civil Rights Movement by attending what I thought were meetings centered strictly around religious activites at St. Paul Luthern Church located on Sixth Avenue South in Birmingham, Alabama. The great Joseph Ellwanger, Jr. was a White Pastor and among the foremost pioneers in the Civil Rights Movement that took place in Birmingham, Alabama. Unbeknownst to me, I was attending, at the time, a number of underground meetings held at St. Paul and various other locations throughout the City of Birmingham.
During these meetings, I found myself as the only young Black female in attendance. I was invited to tag along with Pastor Ellwanger and some times I served as temporary secretary to record some of the information for the meetings. I was between 10 and 11 years old at the time. I met Dr. King and many other Civil Rights organizers and leaders. I went on to write articles and attend lectures regarding Civil Rights and Civil liberties. Some of these articles were published in the church newsletter. I still have some of the articles today.
What was most devastating to me was when my friend and classmate, Carol Denise McNair was murdered at the 16th Street Baptist church. She had ask both me and my girlfriend to attend youth sunday Friday prior to the bombing. My mother woke me up too late to attend. I was furious. History has recorded what happened next. For many years, I was bitter and entangled in a destructive thought process. I harbored a lot of hate.
Being active in the movement at a very young age builds a foundation for the way you perceive your self, the way you react to various individuals, groups, and events for the rest of your life. I have, since that time, made peace within myself and with the totality of circumstances that occurred both during and after the movement. The United States and the Nation and especially Black America received many benefits from this movement. I, myself, became one among few of the first Black teenagers to participate in America's Jr. Miss Pageant on the County level.
For many years, well into the eighty's I was still among the first Black females to fill various positions that were normally slated for whites only. I went on to receive my education at a number of institutions; and in 1983 I returned back to college as a non-traditional student. I earned degrees in Political Science and Sociology at the University of Michigan. Many years later I returned to Birmingham, Alabama where I received my Juris Doctorate Degree.
Why I was chosen to do the things that I did as a young child, I may never know. But the experience has taught me to abandon hatred and arrogance; and to preserve my rights and the rights of others; and to continue to talk to whomever will listen about this historical movement, about preserving our rights and freedoms. About not being judgment of others. Today, I am now writing about my experience as a little girl caught up in the movement and the "church invite" prior to the bombing. It was very hard for me, for many years to even focus on this event. I can honestly say, this was a blessing and not a curse; and I can also honestly say that the Lord loves justice!