(Waleska, GA) Students at Reinhardt University
heard a message of inspiration Friday from a Civil Rights movement voice. Lynda Blackmon Lowery has spent her life fighting for equality and influencing others to make an impact in the world.
Raised in Selma, Alabama, Lowery was only seven years old when her mother needed blood, but was turned away from a “whites only” hospital. She died 15 minutes before “colored” blood arrived by bus from 96 miles away.
Lowery says she immediately vowed to make a change. “In 15 minutes, you can build a world, you can bring change, or in 15 minutes you can break down whatever you desire… and make it even better or worse for yourself and others,” she told a World History class.
At age 13, Lowrey heard Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak, inspiring her fight against segregation and prejudice. At age 14, in May, 1965, she protested on what is now known as “Bloody Sunday.” Tear gas was deployed, and a sheriff’s deputy beat Lowery and other peaceful marchers. Despite 35 stitches and a total of nine arrests, she joined Dr King’s voting right march a few weeks later on her 15th birthday. Lowery was the youngest person to walk every step of that 54-mile march from Selma to the capitol steps in Montgomery, Alabama. Later that year, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“I’m happy and proud because I went to jail, not for hurting anybody, not for taking anything from anybody, but for what I believed in,” Lowery explained.
Students hung onto every word.
When asked about current violent protests, Lowery replied, “I am a person from a nonviolent movement. I can tell you nonviolence works.” She recalls the impacting words of Dr King, “You can get anybody to do anything with steady, loving, confrontation.”
“You have a voice; you need to use that voice before you lose that voice. The children of the 60’s united cities, a state, and a country. We put the word unity back into the word community,” Lowery explained, “It was hard, and it was dangerous, but we did it. Now I believe your job is to put the word human back in the word humanity. That’s how we are going to bring about a complete change. I believe it will be a lasting change.”
Lowrey is a recipient of the 2018 Freedom Flame Award in honor of icons of the Civil Rights Movement. She’s also won awards for her memoir, Turning 15 on The Road to Freedom: My Story of the 1965 Voting Rights March
. Her book became the basis for a live gospel musical which has been performed in 16 states.
Reinhardt University in Waleska, Georgia, is a place where diverse talents grow together- an ideal setting to welcome Lowery’s message of unity.