As part of the celebration of Women's History Month, the George Washington University will host a forum entitled The Influence and Perspectives of Women Pro[Claiming] Freedom: SNCC Women Then and Now on Wednesday, March 20th at 5pm in the Jack Morton Auditorium (MPA Building at 805 21st St, NW, first floor). A light reception will follow.
Discussing the influence and perspectives of women active in the struggle for freedom and equality, editors and contributors of Hands on the Freedom Plow: Personal Accounts by Women in SNCC, will highlight the centrality of women in the ever-evolving narrative of the pursuit for freedom and equality. Hear from women who will share their courageous stories and motivations for joining the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and what inspired this book. A question and answer period will follow, allowing the audience to expand and contribute to the conversations. Copies of the book will be available for purchase and signing following the discussion.
If you require an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion in advance at 202-994-7434.
Martha Prescod Norman Noonan was a member of Students for a Democractic Society and a fundraiser and Field Secretary for SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) during the sixties. In addition to heading Friends of SNCC groups in Ann Arbor and Detroit, she spent almost two years working on SNCC projects in Albany, Georgia, Greenwood, Mississippi, and Selma, Alabama. A student and teacher of history, after earning a MA Degree in history from Wayne State University she completed almost all the coursework for a PhD in history at the University of Michigan until a series of family emergencies interrupted her studies. She has remained a community organizer, developing and directing various programs including an anti-hunger project, a large inner-city food buying club, and a supplemental educational program for young people with sickle cell disease. She has also remained connected to the Movement helping to organize several major retrospective conferences on the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and presenting papers on this topic at many others.
Judy Richardson was on the staff of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in the Deep South in the early 1960’s. In addition to producing documentaries for broadcast and museums (including the award-winning 14-hour PBS series Eyes On The Prize, and PBS’ Malcolm X: Make It Plain), she writes, lectures, and holds workshops on the history and relevance of the Civil Rights Movement. She was a co-founder of Washington, DC’s Drum & Spear Bookstore, once the largest African American bookstore in the country, worked for a variety of social justice organizations, has an honorary Doctorate from Swarthmore College and is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Brown University.
Betty Garman Robinson is a life-long community organizer. During her years with SNCC, Betty Garman was chairman of the University of California, Berkeley, Friends of SNCC chapter and then for two years a member of the SNCC staff – at the organization’s national office in Atlanta, Georgia, and in Greenwood, Mississippi, and later at the Washington SNCC Office. For thirteen years she worked at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health as a researcher on injury prevention and HIV-AIDS studies. In 2003 she was one of ten Baltimoreans to receive an Open Society Institute Community Fellowship to popularize the history of social justice organizing in Baltimore and bring organizers together across issues and constituencies. Previously, she was the Lead Organizer for the Citizens Planning and Housing Association (CPHA) which organizes communities to take action on quality of life issues in the Baltimore region. She currently works as a community organizer for UNITE HERE, the international union which represents hospitality workers. She is the mother of two daughters and has two grandchildren.
Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, a white civil rights activist from Arlington, Virginia, was inspired by her Sunday school teachings to participate in the 1961 Freedom Rides. She was charged with breach of peace and jailed for more than two months. After her release, Mulholland became one of the first whites to integrate Tougaloo College and continued to work in the movement. She participated in the May 1963 sit-in at the Woolworths lunch counter in downtown Jackson, Mississippi. Mullholland's faith continued inform her activism; “the worst thing they could have done was kill us. Once you accept that—and faith teaches us that there are better things to come after death—then there is nothing to worry about.” Subsequently, Mullholland taught for 30 years in Virginia and raised five sons.
This event is one of several planned as part of the yearlong Pro[Claiming] Freedom series commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. The series explores the way we talk about, remember and understand significant milestones in this nation’s historical and ongoing effort to realize the ideals of democracy.