Monday, February 16, 2015

African American Women Who Fought in the Struggle for Freedom

Prince Estella Melson Lee

Queen Mother Prince Estella Melson Lee (1917-2015) was born on April 5, 1917, in Greensburg, Louisiana to the late David and Lillian Melson. She was one of thirteen children. She attended St. Helena School. She met and married Herbert Lee, who was murdered by E.H. Hurst on September 25, 1961, at the cotton gin in Liberty. Herbert Lee became a member of the NAACP in the early 1950's. He was determined to register to vote. Lee was a close friend of the Amite County NAACP branch chairman E.W. Steptoe.

Queen Mother Prince was also a member of the NAACP of Amite County. She was honored on August 28, 1963. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom Tribute to Negro Women Fighters for Freedom. Along with Queen Mother Prince, five other women were honored; Daisy Bates, Diane Nash Bevel, Mrs. Medgar Evers,  Rosa Parks, and Gloria Richardson.

Daisy Lee Gatson Bates

Daisy Lee Gatson Bates was born on November 11, 1914. She grew up in southern Arkansas in the small sawmill town of Huttig. Bates was raised by her foster parents, Orle and Susie Smith, who she believed were her birth parents for many years. She learned that her mother had been raped and murdered by three local white men. In 1952, Daisy Bates was elected president of the Arkansas Conference of NAACP branches. She remained active and was on the National Board of the NAACP till 1970.

She and her husband was the owner of a newspaper called the " Arkansas State Press," a weekly statewide newspaper. The eight-page paper was published on Thursdays, carrying a Friday dateline. The first issue appeared on May 9, 1941. The paper became an avid voice for civil rights even before a nationally recognized movement had emerged. Daisy Bates was later recognized as co-publisher of the paper. Wikipedia

Diane Nash Bevel

Diane Nash was born May 15, 1938, in Chicago, the daughter of Leon Nash and Dorothy Bolton Nash. After experiencing discriminatory events. Nash decided to search for a way to challenge segregation. Nash began attending non-violent civil disobedience workshops led by Rev. James Lawson. Nash's campaigns were among the most successful of the era. He efforts included civil rights campaign to integrate lunch counters in Nashville. In April 1960, Nash helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and quit school to lead its direct action wing. "We will not stop. There is only one outcome," stated Diane Nash, referring to the 1961 Freedom Rides which had been called off by their organizers after violence occurred.  Shocked by a church bombing in Birmingham which killed four young girls in September 1963, Nash and James Bevel committed themselves to raising a nonviolent army in Alabama. Wikipedia

Myrlie Evers-Williams

Myrlie Evers-Williams is a civil rights activist and journalist who worked for over three decades to seek justice for the murder of her civil rights activist husband Medgar Evers 1963. She was also chairwoman of the NAACP, and published several books on topics related to civil rights and her husband's legacy. On January 21, 2013, she delivered the invocation at the second inauguration of Barack Obama. When Medgar Evers became the Mississippi field secretary for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1954, Myrlie worked alongside him. After leaving her post as chairwoman of the NAACP, Evers-Williams established the Medgar Evers Institute in Jackson, Mississippi. She wrote her autobiography, titled Watch Me Fly: What I Learned on the Way to Becoming the Woman I Was Meant to Be (1999). She also served as editor on the Autobiography of Medgar Evers: A Hero's Life and Legacy Revealed Through His Writing, Letters, and Speeches (2005). Wikipedia

Rosa Parks

Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (1913-2005) was African-American Civil Rights activist, whom the
United States Congress called the first lady of civil rights" and the mother of the freedom movement".  On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Park refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake's order to give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled.  Parks was not the first person to resist segregation.  Park's act of defiance and the Montgomery Bus Boycott became important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement. She became an international icon of resistance to racial segregation. She organized and collaborated with civil rights leaders, including Edgar Nixon, president of the local chapter of the NAACP; and Martin Luther King, Jr., a new minister in town who gained national prominence in the civil right movement.

Gloria Richardson Dandrige

Is best known as the leader of the Cambridge Movement, a civil rights struggle in Cambridge, Maryland is the early 1960s. She was recognized as major figure in the African American civil rights movement at the movement at the time and was honored on the stage at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.  Gloria Richardson was originally born into the affluent St. Clair family, which owned a successful hardware store and had also produced one of Cambridge's only black city council members. Blacks could vote in Cambridge but, with only a third of the population, had never been able to completely overturn Jim Crow laws. According to Richardson, her uncle died in his early twenties when he contracted a major illness but the segregated local hospital would not treat him. In 1961, a freedom ride came of Cambridge. The black city council member at the time attempted to discourage the campaign by insisting that the city was already desegregated. Wikipedia

March on Washington
August 28, 1963
Lincoln Memorial Program