Saunders left a protracted legacy of civil rights activism in Lancaster

LANCASTER – It’s not difficult to say that Alice Saunders was the matriarch of the local civil rights movement.

The co-founder of the Black Interest Group and civil rights activist since the 1950s, died of natural causes on May 1 at the age of 95, leaving a legacy of struggle for the African American community.

“This is a great loss, a great loss,” said their daughter Hollie Saunders. “People asked mom for advice, advice and history. That bothered them very much, the legacy we built and what will happen to it.”

Saunders said her mother recently told her she had to keep the BIG going and that Allen Chapel Church had to keep working too.

“She was very clear and very specific about what was important to her in this church,” Saunders said.

While Alice Saunders was a civil rights giant in Lancaster, she didn’t see herself as such.

“She always said, ‘Who am I?’” Said her daughter. “‘I’m nobody. I was born on a farm and just graduated from high school. Nobody special. Why am I so important?'”

But Saunders said her mother’s induction into the Ohio Senior Citizens Hall of Fame was one of the highlights of her life.

More: At the age of 95, the local civil rights activist reflects on the changes in the region and looks to the future

The past year has of course been difficult across the country in terms of racial relations following George Floyd’s death when he was in police custody in Minneapolis last May.

“She saw the news and asked us questions so she knew what was going on,” Saunders said. “Half the time she said this world was going crazy. It just upset her that people showed hatred so quickly and the police shot without asking what was going on. People don’t talk anymore. You was just sick. “”

Alice Saunders was not only a civil rights activist, but also a mother of nine children.

Saunders said the greatest thing Alice Saunders gave her children was their belief in God.

“And to be true to our faith and that we all believe in the teaching of Jesus,” Saunders said. “She always said, ‘What does the Bible say? What does the Bible say?’ That was their moral compass and that is ours. As believers in Christ, we must be faithful to it no matter what. “

Saunders said her mom was the exact character who parasailed five years ago. She also wanted to zipline last year but couldn’t do it because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but had plans to go skydiving in California this summer.

“So there was very little she wouldn’t try,” Saunders said. “She climbed trees until she was in her late 70s, early 80s. Every year she climbed the tree to show that she could do it. Oh, she just did so many things. She was spunky.”

While Saunders said her father, Kenneth, was more disciplined as the kids grew up, her mother gave her some of the beating if necessary.

Alice Saunders’ funeral will take place on Saturday lunchtime at Good Shepherd Church at 700 Spring St. Don’t expect a sad event, however, as Saunders said it would be a house service rather than a funeral.

“It’s definitely going to be a festival,” she said. “She loved music, she loved to sing. Different choirs will sing. We want people to be awesome, but mom liked to have fun. So it won’t be sad. It will be a festival.”

[email protected]


Twitter: @JeffDBarron

Comments are closed.