In honor of Black History Month, we are spending the month celebrating the fabulous black women who have and are making a difference in our nation and around the world. Today, we share a tale of true grit: the story of Lynda Blackmon Lowery, the youngest person to make the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery voting-rights march. (First published here). —Eds.



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In February, during Black History Month, we chose Turning 15 on the Way to Freedom as a “New and Notable” book. Today, on the last day of Women’s History Month, we share more of the story that made us deem Turning 15 a book “on courage.”

Lynda Blackmon Lowery (then Lynda Blackmon) turned 15 on the second day of the 1965 voting-rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama; she was the youngest marcher to make that journey. “I just knew I was on my way to Montgomery to show Governor George Wallace how he had hurt me,” she declares. Indeed he had hurt her. By her 15th birthday, the second day of the 54-mile march, she found herself suddenly traumatized by all the mayhem she had seen and the brutality she had faced. As she emerged from her sleeping tent, the sight of National Guardsmen holding rifles with fixed bayonets made her scream in terror. She was assured that they were there to help her; still, talking her down from her state of agitation delayed the march for an hour.

No wonder she finally gave in to panic. Before she turned 15 she had been jailed nine times; on one of those lockups she had been put into the dreaded “sweatbox,” an iron room with no windows. “Every one of us passed out from the heat. There was no air. There was no bed. There was no toilet. There was no sink.” But the trigger for her terror on that second day of the march was the beating she had received during the “Bloody Sunday” police riot at Selma’s Edmund Pettus Bridge two weeks before. As she tried, with burning eyes and lungs, to get out of the clouds of tear gas, a “big white man” hit Lynda twice over her eye and once on the back of her head. As she staggered away, he kept hitting her. Her stitches had just been removed before the Montgomery march. Read More »

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