Elnora at age sixteen

Elnora at sixteen
I felt pretty good about being a junior. I had it all going on. I had made it to the varsity cheerleading squad. Peggy and Samuetta didn’t have anything on me. I was also a teacher with the purity campaign movement and I was a student that everybody looked up to.
We went from town to town with our campaign. One day while we were passing through Birmingham, Alabama in 1960. A local Minister by the name Fred Shuttleworth and another Minister, Abraham Woods were trying to get the people aroused to do something about the evil treatment of Blacks during that era. Some of the people thought we were Civil Rights Leaders from the North who had come down to help them. They soon found out we had not come to help. We were on another mission from God. When the crowd discovered we were not there to help, we gassed up and left. The image of the look in the eyes of those people never left my memory. Three years later Dr. Martin Luther King came to Birmingham, Alabama. By this time, the people were energized and the children lead the way.
Project C (Encyclopedia, 1963)Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia
Martin Luther King’s presence in Birmingham was not welcomed by all in the black community. A local black attorney complained in Time that the new city administration did not have enough time to confer with the various groups invested in changing the city’s segregation policies.[35] Black hotel owner A. G. Gaston agreed.[35] A white Jesuit priest assisting in desegregation negotiations attested the “demonstrations [were] poorly timed and misdirected”.[35]Protest organizers knew they would meet with violence from the Birmingham Police Department and chose a confrontational approach to get the attention of the federal government.[20] Wyatt Tee Walker, one of the SCLC founders and the executive director from 1960 to 1964, planned the tactics of the direct action protests, specifically targeting Bull Connor’s tendency to react to demonstrations with violence: “My theory was that if we mounted a strong nonviolent movement, the opposition would surely do something to attract the media, and in turn induce national sympathy and attention to the everyday segregated circumstance of a person living in the Deep South.”[19] He headed the planning of what he called Project C, which stood for “confrontation”. Organizers believed their phones were tapped, so to prevent their plans from being leaked and perhaps influencing the mayoral election, they used code words for demonstrations. [36]

The plan called for direct nonviolent action to attract media attention to “the biggest and baldest city of the South”.[37] In preparation for the protests, Walker timed the walking distance from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, headquarters for the campaign, to the downtown area. He surveyed the segregated lunch counters of department stores, and listed federal buildings as secondary targets should police block the protesters’ entrance into primary targets such as stores, libraries, and all-white churches. [38]
The campaign used a variety of nonviolent methods of confrontation, including sit-ins at libraries and lunch counters, kneel-ins by black visitors at white churches, and a march to the county building to mark the beginning of a voter-registration drive. Most businesses responded by refusing to serve demonstrators. Some white spectators at a sit-in at a Woolworth’s lunch counter spat upon the participants. [39] A few hundred protesters, including jazz musician Al Hibbler, were arrested, although Hibbler was immediately released by Connor. [40]
The SCLC’s goals were to fill the jails with protesters to force the city government to negotiate as demonstrations continued. However, not enough people were arrested to affect the functioning of the city and the wisdom of the plans were being questioned in the black community. The editor of The Birmingham World, the city’s black newspaper, called the direct actions by the demonstrators “wasteful and worthless”, and urged black citizens to use the courts to change the city’s racist policies.[41] Most white residents of Birmingham expressed shock at the demonstrations. White religious leaders denounced King and the other organizers, saying that “a cause should be pressed in the courts and the negotiations among local leaders, and not in the streets”. [42] Some white Birmingham residents were supportive as the boycott continued. When one black woman entered Loveman’s department store to buy her children Easter shoes, a white saleswoman said to her, “Negro, ain’t you ashamed of yourself, your people out there on the street getting put in jail and you in here spending money and I’m not going to sell you any, you’ll have to go some other place.”[43] King promised a protest every day until “peaceful equality had been assured” and expressed doubt that the new mayor would ever voluntarily desegregate the city.
The students became distracted by the civil rights movement to the point there was no one left but Kenneth and I when he came home from college. We had no other choice in 1962 but to disband our movement for the greater cause. Everyone was free to go train with Dr. Martin Luther King’s movement. Many of the students at our school did just that. Lemon heard that our group had disband. He came home and asks me to go out with him. Momma ask me not to forget I still wore the purity ring. I assured her Lemon was a gentleman. He would never pressure me into doing anything I did not want to do.

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