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Audio Snapshot of Presbyterian Women

July 13, 2012

Unita Blackwell (right) with Else Adjali, July 8, 1970. From Concern, October 1970, p.38-39.

Two PHS archivists will be joining the Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women from July 18 through 21 (visit us at booth #403, or at Lisa Jacobson's workshop "Documenting your PW heritage" on Saturday, July 21, at 2pm). In celebration of PW gathering tradition, we wanted to share an audio snapshot from a previous meeting.

At the July 1970 meeting in West Lafayette, Indiana, the United Presbyterian Women heard a rousing address from the civil rights activist Unita Blackwell. Born in 1933 in Lula, Mississippi, Blackwell was instrumental in the civil rights and antipoverty campaigns of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Here she recounts how being repeatedly arrested and taken before the Issaquena County justice of the peace led her to run for political office--namely, justice of the peace. She also tells of the occupation of Greenville Air Force Base, and of cooperating and reconciling with people once dedicated to doing her harm.

Click on any of the players below to hear samples, or stream the entire speech! This is Unita Blackwell on how her work to register black voters led her to run for justice of the peace:

And this is Blackwell on her road trip with a member of the local White Citizens' Council:

And here's the entire speech: