By Nicolle Berroa, age 13
“[He] was the most important bridge between the wonderful legacy of the civil rights movement and the message of hope and change,” said Charles J. Ogletree Jr., a Harvard Law School professor and civil rights lawyer.
- I was born in Huntsville, Alabama, on October 6, 1921, and I died, age 98, on March 27, 2020, in Atlanta.
- When I was just 11 years old, a white police officer hit me in the belly with his nightstick and made a racially charged comment to me as I stepped out of my father’s candy store.
- I experienced firsthand the brutalities of the Jim Crow South and spent my life fighting for racial justice.
- I was the co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In this position, I promoted economic empowerment for black Americans.
- Before Rosa Parks was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat to a white man on a Montgomery bus, I had already successfully campaigned to integrate buses in Mobile, Alabama. After her arrest, I worked with Dr. King to organize a 381-day boycott of Montgomery’s segregated buses.
- As a result of the bus boycott, the Supreme Court ended racial segregation on buses in Montgomery and across the rest of the United States.
- In 1982, I organized one of the longest civil rights marches in history, from Carrollton to Montgomery in Alabama, with more than 3,500 people demanding the extension of the Voting Rights Act.
- In 2009, President Obama awarded me the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. I was also awarded the NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, World Peace Council Award and many more.
(Answer: Rev. Joseph Lowery)