My 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…)
Dad had color guard duty, but there was no flag.
It was a pretty simple task: You stood around in the front of Woodlawn Baptist Church to make sure nobody of the wrong color wandered in by mistake. Dad let me stay outside with the men. He liked having me around, and maybe he figured I’d learn something.
Color guard was an important job, because colored folks trying to attend a white church were bound to create trouble. We had one try every now and then – not when I was out there, but I heard about it – and they were advised to go worship with their own kind. (more…)
Even as the inspiring words of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech rang out from the Lincoln Memorial during the historic March on Washington in August of 1963 were still reverberating around the world, less than a month later, on September 15, an even louder sound rumbled through my life. The rumbling has never stopped for me.
A bomb exploded before Sunday morning services at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama – a church with a predominantly black congregation that served as a meeting place for civil rights leaders. Four young girls were killed, and many other people injured that day. (more…)
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…)
I lived over the mountain in Homewood. I never realized until recently how isolated we were back then. The day of the bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, I remember that some of my friends and I had planned to go to the downtown library after church to work on a term paper we had put off. I guess we saw the news on TV and of course our mothers would not let us go downtown.
I recently saw “4 Little Girls” by Spike Lee at our church, Independent Presbyterian Church. There was so much that I never knew. (more…)