During my college years [at Tuskegee], my role was mainly bringing awareness to others about the Civil Rights Movement and learning what was important from our leaders. Whenever there were speakers coming to campus, I helped spread the word and participated in various marches and planning meetings through student government.
We, students, were instrumental in encouraging the older people to protest their circumstances and work for justice. We gave voice to the struggle. We helped register voters. To this day, I encourage people to exercise their right to vote. Through the League of Women Voters, I sponsored voter registration on campus events. I plan to get recertified to register voters. I will do my best to support local elections.
My first year at Tuskegee Institute was fall 1965. I have vivid memories of Gwen Patton leading Student Government meetings in Logan Hall which was packed. I also remember Dean Phillips and Wendell Paris. Wendell and his forces protected students as they marched. They walked along side us with Shotguns when we marched downtown after Sammy Younge was murdered.
We always had civil rights leaders and celebrities on campus. My most cherished memory is that of Stokely Carmichael coming to my English class and leading a discussion about Kitty Genovese. Our English teacher, Ms. Blank, would always allow her students to attend student government meetings, campus protests and marches. She also attended these events. I regret that I couldn't go to the rallies out of town, because my big sister would have told my mom.
However, I did participate in all the local events. The energy on campus was awesome. With Gwen leading us, we just rode the wave. It felt right. I recall the heated discussions among students as to whether they would be called "Negro" or "Black." It hadn't been that long, since we had moved from being called "colored" to "Negro."