Wilmington Faculty acknowledges native piece of American Civil Rights historical past

WILMINGTON – Images of the Montgomery bus boycott, March 1963 in Washington, and Bloody Sunday on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama rightly come to mind when one thinks of the American civil rights movement.

But southwest Ohio, particularly Hillsboro, was also a pivotal moment in African Americans’ ongoing pursuit of equality.

This incredible local story from the Lincoln School Marchers is about several African American mothers and their children who gathered every day to go to the racially segregated Hillsboro Elementary School in all weathers – just to be denied entry. These daily marches lasted two years in the mid-1950s.

Civil rights attorney and later Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall, learned of the Hillsboro protest and sent his legal team and the NAACP to represent five of the mothers in filing a lawsuit.

This led to the first test case in the north of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case repealing laws allowing racial segregation in public schools, Brown v. Board of Education, which Marshall successfully argued in 1954.

At a ceremony on campus on March 31, Wilmington College honored and recognized the Lincoln School Marchers movement with the Art Brooks Diversity Excellence Award.

Kati Burwinkel also received the College’s Diversity Impact Award from the Highland County Historical Society in recognition of her role in ensuring this story is perpetuated over 60 years ago and known to contemporary generations.

Three of the daughters of the Lincoln School Marching Mothers attended the ceremony and accepted the award on behalf of everyone involved in the historic movement. It was Myra Phillips, Virginia Harewood and Joyce Kittrel who, as spokespersons for the trio, drew a parallel between their march for rights related to school integration 66 years ago and young people today who demonstrate against elements of systemic racism in American society.

“It’s something like that today,” Kittrel said of the Black Lives Matter movement. “We had parents who genuinely cared for and looked after their children. Children today need to know that there are people who help them. If you work together and believe in Jesus Christ, things will work out.

Kittrel said, “I stand here for the mothers who led the march and their children who marched with them.”

She praised those who were willing to protest nonviolently to uphold the rights of all Americans because she noted, “Inside we are all the same. We are all human and it is up to us as individuals to ensure that this is a nation under God. There is always something in life that we can improve when we live and stand together in peace. “

Toilet President Trevor Bates said he was impressed to learn the story of the Lincoln School Marchers.

“We thank you for doing what needed to be done,” he said, noting that in many ways their struggle for equality continues to this day. “There is still a lot to be done and discussions to be held.”

Chip Murdock, director of the Office of Diversity + Inclusion, organized the event after several Lincoln School protesters spoke in his Community Leadership class earlier in the semester.

“The story of the protesters is a great story associated with Wilmington College,” he said. During the two years that the children marched each day, local Quakers and faculty members of the quorum were involved in teaching them to ensure they received the best education possible until they could attend integrated public schools.

Murdock said the Brooks Award honors every protester who is involved in “this relentless process of community change. We thank them for all they have done for Ohio, for the equality, and for sharing their stories with us. You are an inspiration to all of us. “

The award, which will be included in the Lincoln School Marchers exhibit at the Hillsboro Museum, is named for Art Brooks, the college’s first director of multicultural affairs, who served for 19 years until 2012. He was present.

From left are Kati Burwinkel of the Highland County Historical Society, who received the Diversity Impact Award, and the trio of Myra Phillips, Virginia Harewood and Joyce Kittrel who received the Art Brooks Diversity Excellence Award for their roles in the Lincoln School Marchers movement got in the 1950s.

Chip Murdock presents the Art Brooks Diversity Excellence Award to Joyce Kittrel, who accepted it on behalf of all the mothers and children who marched Hillsboro for school integration in the mid-1950s. Kittrel was one of those kids.

WC honors Lincoln School Marchers

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