Alma Moton King recalls Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Many recall visits by Dr. King in 1965-66 to support the voting rights movement in Wilcox County . Several shared their memories with me for This Bright Light of Ours. Here is an excerpt “I remember him coming to the school (Camden Academy). I was a senior in 1965. One of our instructors prepared us for his visit. She taught us how to greet people in power, I can’t remember which teacher but she was a woman who had traveled to Europe and met dignitaries. She showed us a film of meeting one of the Presidents in Europe so we would know how to behave properly.

He came and spoke to us, we all shook his hand. When I got home I put my hand that he shook in a plastic bag and my mother couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t take it off. I remember he had the softest hands I had ever touched on a man, really soft.

I don’t remember him marching from school. During the same visit he did lead a march from the church I believe, but I wasn’t in it. I only remember shaking his hand, but I didn’t not march. We lived out in Possum Bend – once that bus left you didn’t have a ride home. I would walk down to the bottom of the hill to the bus station and off they’d go to the church or the courthouse. ” excerpt from an interview with Alma Moton King in 2008 for This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting Rights Fight by Maria Gitin, University of Alabama Press 2014. Read more www.thisbrightlightofours.com

Alma King and Maria Gitin  2012

Alma King and Maria Gitin 2012

The Wilcox County Freedom Fight Comes to Life Again

Wilcox County Freedom Fighters Selma Jubilee 2010Mary Alice Robinson (NCNW Banner), Phillip Young (Freedom Banner), Jessie Crawford, Maria Gitin, Joy Crawford-Washington, Robert Powell (Freedom Banner), Alma King (NCNW Banner)

Wilcox County Freedom Fighters Selma Jubilee 2010
Mary Alice Robinson (NCNW Banner), Phillip Young (Freedom Banner), Jessie Crawford, Maria Gitin, Joy Crawford-Washington, Robert Powell (Freedom Banner), Alma King (NCNW Banner)

Thanks again to all who contributed, assisted and supported the project of recreating the summer of 1965 in Wilcox County Civil Rights History for publication as This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Wilcox County Freedom Fight, forward by Lewis V. Baldwin, to be published by the University of Alabama Press www.uapress.ua.edu in 2014. Were you working for Freedom in the 1960-70’s in Wilcox County? Leave your story in the comment field. Thank you!

Happy New Year as we Continuamos la Lucha – We continue the struggle!

Civil Rights Veterans Maria Gitin & Betty Anderson

Civil Rights Veterans Maria Gitin & Betty Anderson

March 7, 2010 Jubilee and reunion with Robert Powell, Camden Academy student leader:

Reunion of Wilcox County field workers Robert Powell & Maria Gitin

Reunion of Wilcox County field workers Robert Powell & Maria Gitin

Our reunion captured national attention that day. Next year (2014) we plan to walk over the bridge together again. Robert has stayed in touch with his high school friends and with all who support the Freedom Fight.

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-03-07-selma_N.htm

My Heart is Filled With Gratitude

Many generous folks contributed over the past seven years to This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting Rights Fight, a memoir and collection of true stories from the last large integrated voter registration drive during the Freedom Summer of 1965.

Fifty-five courageous individuals entrusted me with their stories of living in a violent, racist community while fighting for their voting rights in Wilcox County, Alabama. My beloved SNCC friends, Charles “Chuck” Bonner and Luke “Bob” Block (https://thislittlelight1965.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/img327.jpg) kept me honest as I recreated our teenage civil rights work and play. Wilcox County community leaders opened doors, answered endless questions and become dear friends including: W. Kate Charley, Sheryl Threadgill, Alma King, and John Matthews. Civil Rights photographer Bob Fitch (http://www.bobfitchphoto.com/) shared historic images that enrich the work immensely.

For generous encouragement, and expert counsel over the years, huge appreciation goes to brilliant author-scholar, Lewis V. Baldwin. (www.amazon.com) For consistent and accurate fact checking, terminology, and political theory, my hero is Bruce Hartford, lay historian and web manager for the national Civil Rights Veterans website (www.crmvet.org). Scott E. Kirkland, researcher and curator of the Museum of History in Mobile, AL, played a vital role in the placement of this book, as a champion for an accurate portrayal of the Summer Community Organization and Political Education (SCOPE) project, designed and spearheaded by civil rights hero, Hosea Williams.

Author-activist Bettina Aptheker, the late James Houston, and Benet Luchion provided early encouragement. Developmental editor Cassandra Shaylor helped shape the book for interest. Historian Martha Jane Brazy of University of South Alabama enthusiastically embraced the work during its final year, generously offering me graduate student level attention. Willy Siegal Leventhal’s unending fight for recognition of the SCOPE (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SCOPE_Project) project was and is an inspiration.

Thanks to my beloved cousin, Jeanne Hanks, and my friend, Debbie Kogan, for empathetic listening during my years of obsessing about this project. Deep appreciation goes to my publicist, Joy Crawford-Washington of BGC Communications, for tireless support and warm friendship. To my yoga teacher, Amey Matthews for teaching me flexibility and strength are not opposites. And to Lauren Mari-Navarro for insights and resources. To Joan for fun & friendship.

Photo by Charley Hatfield, Aptos, CA

My husband, Samuel Torres Jr., offered me freedom to pursue the project, frequent and much-needed critiques, archival research, copyright management, proof-reading, tough talk and tender love, and took great photos. I can never thank him enough, but I am working on it!

Thank you all! Have a great Thanksgiving!  And Keep on Keepin’ On! – We have a long ways to go to achieve real racial and economic justice in the world!

The book has been retitled: This Bright Light of Ours: Stories from the Voting Rights Fight, and will be published by University of Alabama Press in January 2014. Speaking engagements and book-signings are being scheduled now. Please contact: Joy Crawford-Washington, bgccommunications@gmail.com for more information.

Alma King Re-elected to Camden City Council – October 9, 2012

ALMA MOTON KING FOR CITY COUNCIL

Native of Wilcox County, graduate of Camden Academy, long-time resident Alma King has served on the current city council with distinction as a bridge-building, progressive businesswoman and active volunteer. Instead of resting on her laurels in retirement, she has been active running her own business, helping others to launch theirs, working towards attracting business and tourism to the area, and in employment training. Ms King ran a clean campaign in a hotly contested run-off to represent the 3rd District in a second term on the City Council. Despite attempts by others to thwart the outcome, Ms. King was re-elected by her district and will continue the battle to honor the sacrifices of voting rights activists as well as to bring economic growth and build community in Camden. Congratulations Alma!. – Maria Gitin, author and diversity trainer, Capitola, Calfornia