Blog Article

Civil Rights Era Involvement of Our Residents

November 3, 2015 -

It’s an idea birthed from two parents…the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and Carol Woods’ earlier, well-received series of forums on residents’ experiences during the Second World War. Last fall, a group of residents, which became the Civil Rights Forum Planning Group, put out a call for submissions to tell about residents’ personal experiences in Civil Rights.  Having no idea what to expect, we quickly received more than twenty submissions.  We will be presenting two speakers for each of nine sessions. This article includes a brief overview of presentations by the first two speakers. The full scripts of their recollections are in the Carol Woods Library.

In January’s inaugural presentations, Nancy Leinbach and Nancy Milio spoke to a standing room only crowd that listened closely to their eloquent “sharings.”

Nancy Leinbach:  “My Personal Journey of Enlightenment and Radicalization:  Civil Rights before the 1960’s.”  Nancy grew up in a small town in southern Ohio.  Following her 1954 graduation from high school, she was given an opportunity to become part of a racially mixed work crew of young people building a seminary in Swannanoa, NC (Nancy is on top of the wall).  When she was picked up at the bus station in Asheville, a young woman who was only a couple of years older than Nancy said, “We don’t have far to go.” But Nancy knew she was wrong.  “Nancy Kester could not have known how this journey was already way different and far from anything I had known in my Ohio home and with my family.”

Nancy Milio: “The 1965 Voting Rights March in Washington Changed My Life.” Nancy began her story telling of her “ever-constant, quietly supportive mother” who gave her a diary when she was 14, she has continued to write in to this day.  In the 1964-65 volumes, her days as a young nurse were filled with her effort to start a “Mom and Tots Center” in a storefront in downtown Detroit.  Writing grants, taking on the bureaucracy, and helping the community realize their dream were all part of her everyday life.  She was engaged to be married, but on her fateful trip to the Voting Rights March in Washington, she realized that her calling lay with the community.  The Center received funding in December 1965 as part of Johnson’s War on Poverty.  Postscript:  Sixteen months later, during the Detroit riots of 1967, that storefront at 9226 Kercheval was the only one left standing in a two block area.

— Written by Carol Woods resident Dottie H.