This Bright Light of Ours: Black & White Reflections on MLK

Lewis Baldwin & Maria Gitin, Vanderbilt University

Lewis Baldwin & Maria Gitin, Vanderbilt University

November 18, 2014: University of South Alabama, Mobile AL

Fresh perspectives from civil rights veteran Maria Gitin and King scholar Lewis V. Baldwin, based on their teenage encounters with Martin Luther King Jr. during the Alabama voting rights struggle in 1965.
 
6:00 p.m. presentation with Lewis V Baldwin with Reception and Book signing to follow. Free and open to all.
USA Health Sciences Building Auditorium (located at corner of USA Drive North and University Blvd)
Civil rights veteran Maria Gitin and Martin Luther King Jr scholar Lewis V Baldwin will share memories of their individual early encounters with Martin Luther King Jr and the philosophy of nonviolence. Gitin and Baldwin will discuss how these experiences influenced their lives including Gitin’s commitment to political action and Baldwin’s’ pursuit of scholarship. Each has unique perspective on the spiritual and social impact of King’s nonviolent activist theology. Gitin served as a summer civil rights volunteer in Camden, in Wilcox County AL, where Lewis Baldwin was born and raised. They met when Maria Gitin returned four decades later to recapture the stories and experiences of her co-workers and their families.

 In 1965 Gitin was a 19-year old college freshman at San Francisco State College who joined the civil rights movement in the South, and Lewis Baldwin was a 16-year old student at segregated Camden Academy in Camden, Alabama. Their lively talk is both entertaining and historic as the impact of Martin Luther King Jr is viewed through their individual lenses of race, gender, faith and geographic origin. The presentation will include historic photo slides. Each may read relevant excerpts from their new books, Baldwin’s “In a Single Garment of Destiny” and Gitin’s’ “This Bright Light of Ours.”

Antioch Baptist Church Attacked and Shot Up July 1965

Local youth examine one of the shotgun blasts from attack on Antioch Baptist Church while local civil rights activists slept inside.

Local youth examine one of the shotgun blasts the morning after an attack on civil rights activists who had been sleeping inside the SCLC-SCOPE office. Antioch Baptist Church, Camden AL July 1965. J. Worcester photo.

While much more about this story, in the words of survivors and witnesses, is in my book, “This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting Rights Fight” www.thisbrightlightofours.com, today I am posting this photo to ask your help in identifying the two youth standing in the doorway the next morning. We were all in shock at the brutal attack on our Baptist Church sanctuary and office that left one of our SClC co-workers in the hospital for months. Can anyone reading this help ID the two young people standing in the doorway looking at the shotgun blast? Photo by John Worcester who worked with SCLC SCOPE in 1965. Please post replies here in comment box. They will not be posted unless you give consent. Thank you!

Additional information about this event:http://thislittlelight1965.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/boys-attacked-in-church-june-29-1965/

When the People had to Fight to Vote

In 1965, in Wilcox County AL and in countless majority African American counties all over the South, Black citizens rose up in a nonviolent battle for their voting rights. With pressure brought on Congress and President Johnson to finally sign the Voting Rights Act on August 6th, all were free to register. Despite extensive documentation of discrimination, federal registrars did not arrive until late August. Only then were citizens allowed to register at the “real” courthouse on the town square instead of here at the “courthouse annex” which was the old jail. The victory was sweet. Today, we have to fight to get out 28% of voters for any election. Let’s reflect on the sacrifices of our elders, and work to get everyone out to vote this November.

 Evidence of need for federal registrars under new Voting Rights Act. August 1965. J Worcester photo.

Evidence of need for federal registrars under new Voting Rights Act. August 1965. J Worcester photo.

Qualified citizens stand for hours to exercise their voting rights, denied for over 100 years. J Worcester photo. August 1965

Qualified citizens stand for hours to exercise their voting rights, denied for over 100 years. J Worcester photo. August 1965

“This Bright Light of Ours” to Shine in 2015 Martin Luther King Jr Celebrations

Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews brings BAMA kids to meet author Maria Gitin

Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews brings BAMA kids to meet author Maria Gitin

Save the date for talks in Seattle, Monterey and Palo Alto. Check back for details in a few weeks.

January 13, 2015: Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle WA 

7 PM This Bright Light of Ours – Author Book signing event   http://www.elliottbaybook.com/

January 14, 2015: Open Windows School, Bellevue WA – MLK student assembly speaker

January 15, 2015: MLK Seattle Celebration 33rd Anniversary, King County, Seattle WA

The Voting Rights Fight, Keynote speaker for community celebration honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. For more information:http://www.mlkseattle.org/

January 22, 2015: YWCA Monterey County

This Bright Light of Ours: Presentation, reading and book signing.  Details forthcoming.

January 28, 2015: Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University

This Bright Light of Ours: Presentation, reading and book signing Details forthcoming.

Temple Beth El Book Launch Celebration

Temple Beth El Book Launch Celebration

Praise for Maria Gitin Presentations

Thank you! thank you! Thank you! Your contribution to the “Voice of Conscience: Civil Rights, Post-Civil Rights and the Future Freedom Struggle” was the highlight. You are a remarkable friend and colleague. As Director of the Program in African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt and on behalf of the program committee we thank you. – Victor D Anderson, Vanderbilt University

I learned a good bit from your presentation. I referenced you in the final chapter of” A Child Shall Lead Them.” Your book will be a valuable resource, and will be one I will want to use in my King course. – Rufus Burrow Indiana Professor of Christian Thought and Theological Ethics, Christian Theological Seminary

Maria’s passion, compassion, and love for the people of Wilcox County shines through in her lecture. I count it a privilege to meet someone who is so genuine and is part of living history.DeeAnn, student University of South Alabama

Wilcox County Head Start one of first in the US 1965

Head Start, also known as pre-school, was one of the greatest programs and most successful programs of the War on Poverty. Due to the hard work of Dan Harrell and others, Wilcox County, Alabama was one of the first counties in the nation to launch a Head Start, right in the midst of the fiercest struggle for the right to vote, for decent schools and for employment opportunities for the majority African American residents, who were denied all these rights. Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) project SCOPE (Summer Community Organization and Political Education) volunteer Ann Nesbitt and San Francisco Theological Seminary student Yvonne Young were the very first white volunteers. Please leave a comment if you know the names of any of the children or of the head teacher in these photos by John Worcester, also of the SF Theological Seminary. The seminarians were part of the National Board of the Presbyterian Church outreach to support the civil rights struggle though education and with efforts at reconciliation with the white community. – As told to Maria Gitin by John Golden and John Worcester, seminarian participants. Taken July 1965, Camden AL

Head Start Picnic July 1965

Head Start Picnic
July 1965

Head Start Kids Enjoy Picnic

Head Start Kids Enjoy Picnic

Head Start Picnic July 1965

Head Start Picnic
July 1965

40 Pre-school Picnic

“This Bright Light of Ours” to Shine in 2015 Martin Luther King Jr Celebrations

Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews brings BAMA kids to meet author Maria Gitin

Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews brings BAMA kids to meet author Maria Gitin

Save the date for talks in Seattle, Monterey and Palo Alto. Check back for details in a few weeks.

January 13, 2015: Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle WA 

7 PM This Bright Light of Ours – Author Book signing event   http://www.elliottbaybook.com/

January 14, 2015: Open Windows School, Bellevue WA – MLK student assembly speaker

January 15, 2015: MLK Seattle Celebration 33rd Anniversary, King County, Seattle WA

The Voting Rights Fight, Keynote speaker for community celebration honoring Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. For more information:http://www.mlkseattle.org/

January 22, 2015: YWCA Monterey County

This Bright Light of Ours: Presentation, reading and book signing.  Details forthcoming.

January 28, 2015: Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University

This Bright Light of Ours: Presentation, reading and book signing Details forthcoming.

Temple Beth El Book Launch Celebration

Temple Beth El Book Launch Celebration

Praise for Maria Gitin Presentations

Thank you! thank you! Thank you! Your contribution to the “Voice of Conscience: Civil Rights, Post-Civil Rights and the Future Freedom Struggle” was the highlight. You are a remarkable friend and colleague. As Director of the Program in African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt and on behalf of the program committee we thank you. – Victor D Anderson, Vanderbilt University

I learned a good bit from your presentation. I referenced you in the final chapter of” A Child Shall Lead Them.” Your book will be a valuable resource, and will be one I will want to use in my King course. – Rufus Burrow Indiana Professor of Christian Thought and Theological Ethics, Christian Theological Seminary

Maria’s passion, compassion, and love for the people of Wilcox County shines through in her lecture. I count it a privilege to meet someone who is so genuine and is part of living history.DeeAnn, student University of South Alabama

George Ow Jr to Introduce Maria Gitin at Bookshop Santa Cruz

Community Leader and diversity champion George Ow Jr. will introduce Maria Gitin’s reading and book signing event at Bookshop Santa Cruz
Monday August 11th 7:30 PM
Free and open to All

Read More about the Book: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/news/ci_26286254/local-writer-maria-gitin-looks-back-at-civil

Daniel Dodge Sr, Maria Gitin, Felipe Hernandez, Mavel Arujo and George Ow Jr NAACP Banquet 2014

Daniel Dodge Sr, Maria Gitin, Felipe Hernandez, Mavel Arujo and George Ow Jr NAACP Banquet 2014

Bookshop SC event flyer