Laura Lansford McConnell
and daughters Tarin and Kennan

SNCC, CORE, FOR, 1961-64, Alabama, DC, Maryland
Current Residence: Salisbury, NC

I grew up in Mississippi and attended Ole Miss, where I met and married a "Yankee". As an undergraduate in the early 50's I helped teach Bible School at a rural black church and attended an integrated Presbyterian youth conference at Auburn, Alabama.

My ex-husband and I were at the University of Alabama from 1955-58. We belonged to a small campus group which tried to hold educational meetings on integration. The Klan burned a cross outside one meeting and we had threatening phone calls.

After we moved to the San Francisco Bay Area we became active in the anti-nuclear movement. In June 1961 we attended a CORE meeting in Berkeley in support of a proposed second California group of Freedom Riders. Frightened as we were at the prospect, we knew that Duncan had to go back to Mississippi with the group. He was in jail 28 days, in a cell-block with Stokely Carmichael. I was introduced to Dr. King at a rally at the Cow Palace.

We moved to D.C. in 1962 where he attended Howard Law School, and we participated in SNCC-related sit-ins with our two babies. We were on the 'Ole Miss campus the week before the riots there, and believe it would have remained peaceful if Governor Ross Barnett had not inflamed the situation.

The little girls and I were left in Atlanta in a SNCC safe house while Duncan went to Alabama to cover Governor Wallace's "stand in the school-house door," and were there when the news came through of Medgar Evers assassination. The whole family was at the March on Washington to hear the "I Have A Dream" speech.

I later worked for the Urban League. We knew Stokely again as an undergraduate and he came to our house to meet white attorney Charles Morgan, Jr., when he fled Alabama after denouncing the bombers of the Birmingham church.

Copyright © Laura Lansford 2005

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