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Childhood Recollections of the Civil Rights Movement


LaTanya Richardson Jackson plays Grandma Sands in The Watsons Go to Birmingham. In this personal essay, she shares her recollections of childhood in the midst of the Civil Rights movement. 

Program Title: The Watson’s Go to Birmingham.Network:  Hallmark Channel

Growing up in Atlanta, Georgia put me smack in the middle of the Civil Rights movement. My aunt, Doris J. Rogers, was a student at Clark College and participated in the sit-ins. My sister Deborah and I knew something was going on in the city that was extremely important and dangerous because of the hushed tones in our house among the adults. We were no older than 6 and 7 but we were very aware of the evening vigils sat by our grandparents as we waited for our aunt to return home.

On Sundays there were always the minister’s prayers for the activists followed by the passing of the plate for financial contributions to cover attorney’s fees and bail. It was not uncommon for us to be visited by a host of Civil Rights luminaries such as Vernon Jordan, Julian Bond and of course Martin Luther King, Jr. My grandmother, Dovie Jackson, was a great cook and she was always called upon by our ministers to please prepare food for the visitors, which on occasion included them coming to our home.

Dr. King’s sister, Ms.Christine King Ferris, taught at my elementary school and instilled in us pride in what was being fought on our behalf. This immersion fostered a natural response in me to be socially active and a conscious contributor to the struggle for justice for all of humanity, which continues to this day.