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…)
Sunday, September 15, 1963…a time in history that is etched in my memory.
On Sunday, September 15, 1963, the beautiful fall morning began as any other Sunday morning in the Wesley household. Mama would get up early, fill the house with the aroma of bacon frying, biscuits baking and even dinner cooking.
It was not hard to get her brood of eight (plus three others) stirring when the house was filled with the smell of good food. The only one of the eight missing was my brother who had volunteered for the army. Two teenage girls who had experienced unfortunate family circumstances had joined our family and a five month old infant was also in the mix. (more…)
1963 was pure hell for me beginning in January. We were human; however, we were not treated as such. Things were totally different. There was a separation of Black people and White people at this time. By this time things began to change in our city and it was really sad to know that you were thought of as nothing but an unacceptable person. You could not sit beside a White person on the bus and you couldn’t sit and dine with them either. We could not go to the better movie theaters nor could we try on clothing that we attempted to purchase.
By this time in my heart I knew it was time for a change. My only thought was, when, where, and how. (more…)
My background is that of a middle-class child growing up in the 1950s and ‘60s in Birmingham, Alabama at the very time of the Civil Rights Movement.
The Movement, its leaders, and our parents taught us a great deal about values—what’s right and wrong. We learned about the importance of teamwork from the many, many hours we spent in meetings with adults and other young people, talking about the challenges we faced and trying to understand the strategies and legal issues involved. I remember that my childhood friends and I talked with our parents about whether we would be allowed to participate in marches and the likely implications of doing so. I also recall hearing the rumors that teachers and other workers (like my mother and father) would lose their jobs if they marched. We witnessed the courage of fellow students and our families, and we took part in the Alabama Christian Movement’s evening meetings where we learned how spiritual music—from “I Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around” to “Woke Up This Morning with My Mind Set on Freedom”—can fortify a people and give them a vehicle for expressing their aspirations and strong belief in lofty goals. (more…)