Atlanta, Georgia & Montgomery, Alabama – It has been made clear that women were the backbone and at the forefront of the movement. Due to the times and circumstances of how the world was (and is) run, they and their stories were changed or rarely even told.
Rosa Parks was a champion for women who were sexually assaulted before she was part of the movement to boycott the busses to try to stop the discrimination throughout Alabama.
11 years before her, there was Viola White who was forcibly removed from her bus seat, beaten, arrested, and charged. When she appealed her case, the Montgomery police retaliated and A. Enger came to her home, kidnapped her 16 year old daughter, and raped her. This brave girl memorized the license plate number, and when the lawyer told the chief, he tipped off the officer who left town never to be charged.
Due to this hate throughout Alabama and the killing of Jimmie Lee Walker, a woman named Amelia Boynton began the planning of a March from Selma to Montgomery and made sure the power, money, and media behind MLK Jr. Came with him.
Many of the marchers were woman who brought their children. One of those brave children was Joanne Bland who at 12 was beaten and arrested (her 13th arrest for marching for her civil rights).
Women also began student movements (especially on college campuses), were the organizers, and led the way although we usually only see the men on the plaques and in the pictures.
Viola Liuzzo was a mother of 4 who came to Alabama in March of ‘65 to help transport marchers and was shot and killed by Klansman and left on the side of the road leaving her children motherless.
These are just some of the woman that were the power behind the movement.
Thankfully today, women are able to be out front and have their voices heard. Strong Black women like Joanne who told us her story and explained to us how we are a piece of the puzzle, Afryie who showed us how special each of us are, and Michelle Browder who is changing the conversation and giving abused Black women back their names through her art.
Although men are usually the faces on the statues and in the history books, we now know who really made a difference no matter the cost.