Saturday, October 15, 2011

quotes about life lessons

Unita Blackwell was born on 18 March 1933 in Lula, Mississippi to sharecroppers Virda Mae and Willie Brown. Blackwell's uncle gave her the name U.Z., which she kept until she was in the sixth grade when her teacher told her that she needed "a real name, not just initials". Blackwell and her teacher decided on Unita Zelma.

Blackwell and her parents lived in Lula, until 1936 when she was three years old; Blackwell's father left the plantation on which he worked, and fled to Memphis, Tennessee, fearing for his life after he confronted his boss about speaking to his wife. Soon afterwards, Blackwell and her mother left the plantation to live with him. On June 20, 1938 Blackwell's parents separated due to religious differences. Blackwell and her mother went to West Helena, Arkansas to live with Blackwell's great aunt so that she had the opportunity to receive an education. While living there, Blackwell often visited her father in Memphis. During the summer months she would leave West Helena and live with her grandfather and grandmother in Lula, where she helped plant and harvest cotton. She was 14 when she finished the eighth grade, the final year of school at Westside, a school in West Helena for black children.

When the United States Commission on Civil Rights came to Mississippi in January 1965, Blackwell testified in front of them about her experiences with voter discrimination:

The Blackwells filed a suit, Blackwell v. Issaquena County Board of Education, against the Issaquena County Board of Education on April 1, 1965, after the principal suspended over 300 black children, including Jerry, the Blackwells' son, for wearing pins that depicted a black hand and a white hand clasped with the word "SNCC" below them. The suit covered several issues including the students use of the "freedom" pins, and asked that the Issaquena County School District desegregate their schools per the Supreme Court Ruling, Brown v. Board of Education. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, decided that the students were being disruptive with their use of the freedom pins, but that the school district had to desegregate their schools to comply with federal law, by the Fall of 1965. The case was taken to the United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit, in July 1966, where the previous decision by the District Court was upheld.

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