Belva Davis, Civil Rights Movement, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Daughters of the Civil Rights Movement, Donzaleigh Abernathy, Jr. Freedom Center, Kerry Kennedy, Kevin L. Nichols, Lou Fancher, Luci Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King, Merritt College, Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Ensemble, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, The Barbara Lee & Elihu Harris Lecture Series
My friend, Margaret McAlone, graciously invited me to go with her to this historic and inspiring evening.
Imagining having, all together in one room, these dynamic and caring women:
Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Retired TV news anchor Belva Davis
Daughter of the Reverend Abernathy, actress, producer, director, writer, Donzaleigh Abernathy
Daughter of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, business woman and activist, Luci Baines Johnson
Daughter of Senator Robert Kennedy, human rights activist and writer, Kerry Kennedy
Daughter of Governor George Wallace, activist for promoting racial healing, Peggy Wallace Kennedy.
The evening was put on by The Barbara Lee and Elihu Harris Lecture Series produced by Merritt College and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Freedom Center in Oakland, California. The focus was the East Bay Commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the 1963 events of the Civil Rights Movement.
Belva Davis was the moderator and we were lucky to hear her story before she began her introductions. Ms. Abernathy spoke as I imagine he father must have – a very powerful and mesmerizing speech with a slide show of horrifying images of segregation in the South. She spoke of Martin Luther King, Jr., her godfather, and the time the family home was bombed and of her close friend who was seriously injured in the bombing of the church.
Ms. Johnson spoke of her experiences and what she knew of her father’s actions and feelings at the time. Ms. Kennedy spoke of her remembrances and of her father’s actions while Ms. Wallace Kennedy spoke of living in the shadow of the day her father stood in the doorway blocking two African-American students from entering the university and integrating the school. She now works to promote racial healing.
All the women were incredible speakers telling remarkable stories about a time of necessary change in our country. I can’t imagine there was a dry eye during some of the talks and everyone left inspired.
To add to the evening the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Ensemble honored us with their singing gospel and spiritual music. It was a night I was thankful I experienced and am grateful for the work these women are doing to bring about continued changes.