Untold Story: Justice Denied
The 1963 Americus-Sumter Civil Rights Movement Americus, Georgia
Dr. Shirley Green-Reese ~ 2015

See Americus GA Movement ..."for background.
See also Documents From the Albany & Southwest Georgia Movement
See also Albany, Americus, & SW Georgia Freedom Movements for web links.

School-Aged Young Girls Illegally Jailed in Dawson and Leesburg, Georgia
Brief Overview of the Story

Fourteen (14) young school-aged black girls from Americus, Georgia were held hostage in the stockade in Leesburg, Georgia and one (1) night in Dawson, Georgia's jail during the 1963 Civil Rights Movement. Today, fifty-two years later, the surviving women of this horrendous ordeal are breaking their silence to share with Georgia and the rest of the world the intricacies and lasting impact of their illegal imprisonment, abuse, and degrading experiences endured at the hand of racist officers of "the peace."

At the time of their imprisonment, these girls were aged 11 to 15 years and innocent adolescents, who were determined to fight for their freedom. Their names are Shirley Green, Willie Mae Smith, Carol Barner, Melinda Jones, Verna Hollis, Billie Jo Thornton, Diane Dorsey, Lula Westbrooks, and Laura Ruff. Among this list, Pearl Brown, Mattie Crittenden, Sandra Mansfield, Annie Lou Ragans, and Gloria Westbrooks are deceased. The surviving women are still haunted by memories of inhumane living conditions in an old Civil War Era abandoned Stockade that was located in the deep, back woods of Leesburg, Georgia. For two (2) months, these budding adolescents survived on four (4) rare cooked hamburgers or four (4) rarely egg sandwiches daily. There was only contaminated water from an old rusted shower head to drink, a dirty and molded toilet that did not flush to relieve themselves and no cleaning supplies, soap, toilet tissue or paper towels. In short, they were not provided personal hygiene supplies, medical supplies, beds, sheets, pillows or blankets over the two months period of their confinement. They slept on the hard, cold cement floor in the Stockade.

The iron, steel barred windows were filled with dangerous pieces of broken glass. No protection was provided from mosquitoes, roaches, or other insects that entered the Stockade through the open, barred windows and doors. Early one morning, a dangerous diamond-back snake was spotted on the floor of the Stockade. Afraid, unprotected and unsafe, these young civil rights advocates were isolated from their families. Their parents, who were only 20 miles away, had no knowledge of why or where their daughters were being held; neither were they aware of the tortuous conditions under which their daughters were being held during their two months captivity.

Because these young girls' civil and human rights were illegally violated and immoral, the girls endured many lasting psychological, mental, physical, and health issues. In 1992, Danny Lyon, a white photographer who worked with the Student Non-Violence Coordinating Committee (SNCC) released pictures taken of the girls while they were incarcerated in the Stockade.

Copyright © Shirley Reese, 2015.

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