All fired up and ready to participate again

Mamie King-Chalmers

Age

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Mamie King Chalmers w iconic photoMy name is Mamie King-Chalmers and this is my photo. I was one of the young adults that fought in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. That photo is important to me because it shows my participation in the civil rights struggle and it’s a legacy for my children and my grandchildren to carry on.

During those times I had faith, courage, and I was willing to do anything to help with the conditions that was being brought upon us in the South. My whole family was involved in the civil rights struggle. My father said, “We’re going down and get involved.” That’s what I believed in and that’s what I did, and that’s what I will continue to do. (more…)

Broke free from the pack

Mike Diccicco

Age

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I grew up in Birmingham with nine brothers and sisters, went to St. Barnabas and John Carroll, graduated 8th grade and entered high school in 1963. But my most striking memory of that era had to have happened later, probably after the Civil Rights bill was signed on July 2, 1964.

I used to ride public transportation home from basketball practice, travelling from the Southside to East Lake. I had to transfer from one bus to another in downtown Birmingham, getting on a bus whose route had already taken it through areas of the city mostly inhabited by African Americans. At some point (not sure exactly when), the bus company had been required to remove the signs that read “Colored to the Rear.” (more…)

The Making of a Child Crusader

Melvin Todd

Age

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When I look back over the years of my life, I can recount so many experiences that primed me to become one of the children crusaders for the Civil Rights Movement.  I am sure that my experiences were the same as thousands of other African American children, growing up in Birmingham, Alabama during the 1950s and 60s.

As I recollect and assemble my memories, I see them as a montage of snippets from various movies.  These real life snippets were the events that helped make my contemporaries, and me, willing to risk personal injury, and jail, to bring about changes for a better life for our people.

If I were to make a movie draft of my life, it would include a sound track. (more…)

A kid in Detroit closely followed news from Birmingham

Lawrence Bentley

Age

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One day of 1963 that stands out for me is the day I saw the dogs and water hoses turned loose on Negroes, as, if we were lucky, we were called then. I asked my mother why would they do that, but she said not to worry since we lived in Detroit. I started reading everything I could in regard to this matter, even though it was not taught or mentioned in school. Even though I was only 8 years old, living in Detroit and my parents wisely would never allow me to be involved anyway, I am very sorry I did not do more to protect the people in Birmingham in 1963. (more…)

On Whose Shoulders I Stand

Deborah J. Walker

Age

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I am an African-American, a woman, a born and bred Southerner, and a Christian. I’m college educated and a heterosexual baby boomer. I am middle class, temporarily ablebodied, and a citizen of the world. Each identity shapes how I show up in the world. The first four formed the core foundation for my worldview and my purpose in the world.

I grew up in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1960s. My memories of dogs and fire hoses, dynamite bombings, and senseless killings shaped my view of the world and my role in it. I too was shaped by the courage of my childhood friends marching in the streets and going to jail and by the fearless determination of the village of adults who tried to create a sense of normality in the face of unabridged hate. I was supported by a faith-filled family who believed that ultimately God was in charge. Against this backdrop, my strongly held fears and my growing rage lived side-by-side.

On September 15, 1963, fear and rage erupted into a powerful passion to fight injustice at any cost. (more…)