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[Lula White interview]

Repository: Greater New Haven Labor History Association

Collection Description (CRHP): In a radio interview, Lula White describes her involvement as a Freedom Rider and member of the New Haven Federation of Teachers.

Collection Description (Extant): White grew up in New Haven and taught here for many years. From her youth, she was an outspoken defender of human rights. She spent the summer of 1961 in the notorious Parchman prison in Mississippi, two cells away from the Electric Chair. She was one of the Freedom Riders, a group of volunteers who rode interstate buses through the deep South to integrate bus stations, including waiting rooms, lunch counters and bathrooms. On the very day President Obama was born in August of 1961, hundreds of freedom riders were in jail in Mississippi.

The Freedom Riders were scheduled to go from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans. But after suffering brutal violence in Alabama, including the firebombing of one bus, President Kennedy pressured state officials in the South to protect the riders from further mob violenceundefinedby having them escorted out of Alabama and arrested in Mississippi.

The riders refused pay fines or to pay bail to get out of jail. Instead, they put out a call for more riders to come to Jackson and “fill the jails to overflowing.” Outraged by the firebombing, White, who had just graduated from the University of Chicago and was planning to go to graduate school, responded to the call. She hopped a bus for Jackson without telling her parents, mailing a postcard to her father along the way that informed him, “If you want to know where I am this summer, I’m in Mississippi, in jail.”

Access Copy Note: The interview will eventually be transcribed.

Date(s): circa mid-1990s

Digital Status: No

Extent: 1 sound disc (CD)

Language: English

Related Archival Items: Lula White

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights

Subjects:

African American women civil rights workers
Freedom Rides, 1961
Labor unions
Teachers' unions

Genres:

Interviews
Sound recordings

 

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   March 5, 2012
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