Quilted Swing Coats
by Patricia A. Montgomery

Stories

Ella Josephine Baker

The Builder of Leaders c. 2015

Ella Josephine Baker was a professional  community organizer, believed in "group-centered leadership," which allowed people "to participate in the decisions that  affect ... their lives." Baker fought for social justice and equality. With her many years of experience as a protester and organizer, she gave wise counsel in developing and encouraging leadership to numerous organizations in the Civil Rights Movement and the African-American community.

Daisy Bates

The Mentor c. 2015

The Bates' home was the safe haven "Little Rock Nine." They met there every morning and was transported to Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, under the protection of the  United States Army's 101st Airborne Division. After school, Daisy  guided and advised the nine students in nonviolent responses to physical and verbal abuse. No matter how many bricks, rocks and bullets assaulted her living room window, Daisy would not have the window completely  boarded up.

Amelia Boynton Robinson

"Bloody Sunday" Event c. 2015

Amelia Boynton Robinson was one of the key figures who helped organize a march from Selma to  Montgomery, Alabama for voting rights. On March 7, 1965, 600 protesters led by John Lewis marched on the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River into Selma. The protesters were attacked  by policemen with tear gas and billy clubs. A newspaper photograph of my beaten unconscious body lying on the bridge drew national attention. This event, known as "Bloody Sunday," contributed to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. The march from Selma to Montgomery was completed on March 24, 1965 with federal protection.

Septima Poinsette Clark

Freedom Teacher c. 2017

Septima Clark was an American educator and civil rights activist who believed in the importance of education and spent her life teaching African Americans to become potential voters. She established "Citizenship Schools" teaching reading to adults throughout the deep South. Her goal was to provide not only citizenship rights but self-pride and cultural pride. She became the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) Director of Education and teaching. She was the first woman to gain a position on the Executive Board of the SCLC. But like many women, she struggled against the sexism in the movement. Women being treated unequally was "one of the greatest weaknesses of the civil rights movement."

Claudette Colvin

Claudette Was Arrested c. 2014

One cop grabbed my hand and his partner grabbed the other. They pulled me straight up and out of my seat - dragging me off the bus. Don't fight! I started yelling, "It's my constitutional rights!" A school girl, Claudetta Colvin, got arrested for refusing to surrender her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She was arrested on March 2, 1955, eight months before the arrest of Rosa Parks. That started the Montgomery Bus Boycott on December 1, 1955. On February 1, 1956, Colvin was one of the four plaintiffs of the Supreme Court Case - Browder vs. Gayle - that ruled Montgomery's segregated public bus system was unconstitutional.

Dorothy Cotton

Highest Female Member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Executive Staff c. 2015

"The Civil Rights Movement that rearranged the social order of this country did not emanate from the halls of Harvard, Princeton and Cornell. It came from simple people who learned that they had the right to stand tall and that nobody can ride a back that isn't bent." Dorothy Cotton's life's work based on the philosophy and practices of nonviolence, reconciliation, restoration, and grassroots leadership development. As a member of the SCLC inner-circle she was one of Dr. Martin Luther King's closest colleague. Ms. Cotton organized the Citizenship Education Program whose main focus was to teach voter registration requirements. 

Stories

Dorothy I. Height

Godmother of the Civil Rights Movement c. 2015

Dorothy Height witnessed every major victory and contribution in the struggle for racial equality during the Civil Rights and the Women's Liberation Movements. President Obama called her the "Godmother of the Civil Rights Movement." The Second Empire Victorian townhouse at 1318 Vermont Ave, Washington DC was Mary McLeod Bethune's final residence and the first headquarters for the National Council of Negro Women. In 1982, the "Council House" was declared a National Historic Site by an Act of Congress and was acquired by the National Park Service. The National Council of Negro Women Headquarters now stands where recaptured young African American women were one sold as slaves.

Ida Mae Holland

Transformation of Ida Mae Holland 

c. 2014

At age 11, Ida Mae was raped which led her to prostitution in the Jim Crow South. In her late teens, she followed a young man to his office, hoping he would be a customer. That young man was a volunteer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) who registered Negro voters in Greenwood, Mississippi. This encounter transformed her life. She eventually received a Ph.D. and became a professor and playwright. Her play From the Mississippi Delta tells her life story. As she adds the Swahili name Endesha to her name which means "Driver - she who drives herself and others forward."

Mildred (Jeter) Loving

The Freedom to Love c. 2017

Mildred Jeter, a black woman was married to Richard Loving, a white man who was sentenced to a year in prison for violating Virginia's anti-miscegenation statue, that prohibited marriage between people classified as "white" and "people of colored." United States Supreme Court's unanimous decision on June 12, 1967, determined that this prohibition was un-constitutional ending all race based legal restriction on marriage in the United States. Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote: " The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the state."

Dollree Mapp

Violation of her Fourth Amendment Right Became a Landmark Civil Rights Case c. 2015

The Fourth Amendment says that the government cannot search your body or house unless they can prove to a judge that they have good reason. In 1961, Mapp vs Ohio, the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-3 vote in favor of Dollree Mapp saying that unlawful searches and seizures can't be used in criminal prosecution. Now there are restrictions on obtaining warrants in order to do searches.

Anne Moody

I Can Be Killed for the Color of my Skin! C. 2018

Her book titled “Coming of Age in Mississippi” is a first-person account describing the inequality suffered by African American in rural Mississippi. She realized at age 15 that she could be killed for color of her skin.

She was an active member of the following organizations - National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). She helped plan the events of the 1964 Freedom
Summer.

At the end of her memoir, she reflected on the events she had witnessed and remembered the words of the movements anthem:

We shall overcome

We shall overcome

We shall overcome some day

“I wonder” she wrote “I really wonder”

Pauli Murray

Civil and Women's Right Lawyer c. 2019

Even though I was denied entry into Harvard University because of my gender, I will become the first African American to receive a law degree from Yale Law School in 1965. 

I served as a lawyer and argued civil rights and women’s rights cases for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The publication of an article titled “Jane Crow and the Law: Sex Discrimination and Title VII” of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This article draws a comparison between discriminatory laws against women and Jim Crow laws. Also, she criticized the organizers of the 1963 March on Washington that no women were invited to make one of the major speeches or be a part of its delegation of leaders who went to the White House. 

I left the courts and academia and became the first African American woman ordained as an Episcopal priest.


Stories

Diane Nash

She Brought The Movement to Nashville c. 2014

After attending non-violent civil disobedience workshops led by Rev. James Lawson, Diane Nash became the leader of the first successful civil rights campaign to integrate lunch counters.

When Nash asked Nashville's mayor, Ben West, on the steps of City Hall, "Do you feel it is wrong to discriminate against a person solely on the basis of their race or color?" The mayor admitted that he did. Three weeks later, May 10, 1960, Nashville, Tennessee became the first southern city to desegregate lunch counters.

Reflecting on the event, Nash said, " I have a lot of respect for the way he responded. He didn't have to respond the way he did. He said that he felt it was wrong for citizens of Nashville to be discriminated against at the lunch counters solely on the basis of the color of their skin. that was the turning point. That day was very important.

Joann Robinson

Montgomery Bus Boycott Was Led From Behind the Scenes c. 2014

Following Rosa Parks' arrest for refusing to move from her seat to  the back of the bus, JoAnn Robinson stayed up all night mimeographing 52,000 handbills calling for a boycott of the Montgomery bus system. She passed out flyers throughout the black community. The hope was to stay off the buses for one day. It worked and the black citizens decided to continue the boycott which led to the establishment of the Montgomery Improvement Association with Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as president.

Ruby Doris Smith Robinson

She Bridged the Gap Between Civil Rights and Black Power Movement  c. 2016

As a Spelman student, Ruby Doris Smith Robinson became involved with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). She created the SNCC's no bail policy during the Freedom Riders' Campaign. As Assistant Secretary of the Atlanta central SNCC office, she organized the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer Campaign. In 1966, she was elected as SNCC's first and only Executive Secretary becoming the first and only woman  to hold this position. Her untimely and tragic death in October 1967 symbolically marks the demise of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the birth of Black Power.

Carlotta Walls

She was the Youngest to Walk the Halls c. 2014

In 1957, I was the youngest of nine Negro students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. We were known as the "Little Rock Nine." I endured being kicked, pushed, spit upon and verbally abused everyday. I was escorted by armed guards to classes. I never fought back. My name is Carlotta Walls and I graduated from Little Rock Central High in 1960. The right to a good education was decided by Brown vs the Board of Education.