Genevieve Hughes Houghton
(1932 — 2012)


As remembered by Sheila Michaels
December 2, 2012

Genevieve Hughes was CORE's first female Field Secretary, traveling through the upper South & nationally to organize, lead nonviolence workshops and work with CORE chapters. She had been a stock analyst on Wall Street, when that was about the professional limit for women. She was gentle, shy, ladylike, & did not tolerate fuzzy thinking. She was on the Freedom Ride bus that was burned. The videos show her in heels wearing a hat & carrying her purse before she collapsed, vomiting in front of the burning bus. She was not able to continue into Mississippi when the ride continued, because her lungs had been damaged from smoke inhalation & it took her a long while to convalesce.

When the Freedom Ride reunions came around, I wondered what had become of her. She had disappeared. I heard one Rider on NPR report that she had become a cloistered nun. No one was surprised to hear that. We should have been, as she was either a non-believer or an atheist. In fact, she had married & followed her husband to Carbondale, Illinois, when he was a graduate student. The marriage ended, but she stayed in Carbondale as an Adjunct & community activist. It was only in 2011 that I found her & got down to see her & do an oral history. By that time her cancer was very advanced. It was lovely to see her & she was as modest as ever.

S h e i l a

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