'I Gave Up Hope': As Girls, They Were Jailed In Squalor For Protesting SegregationBreaking News
tags: racism, civil rights, segregation, African American history
The day Martin Luther King Jr. gave his landmark "I Have a Dream" speech in August 1963, a lesser known moment in civil rights history was unfolding in southern Georgia.
More than a dozen African-American girls, ages 12 to 15, were being held in a small, Civil War-era stockade set up by law enforcement in Leesburg, Ga., as a makeshift jail.
Though they were never charged with a crime, the girls had been arrested for challenging segregation in demonstrations in nearby Americus, Ga. For about two months, the girls slept on concrete floors; there was no working toilet or shower. There were minimal food and water deliveries each day.
"The place was worse than filthy," recalled Carol Barner-Seay at StoryCorps in 2016.
Barner-Seay, who's now 68, had been imprisoned there along with Shirley Green-Reese, Diane Bowens and Emmarene Kaigler-Streeter. At StoryCorps, the four women recounted their time together in the stockade.
"Being in a place like that, I didn't feel like we was human," Shirley Green-Reese, now 70, said.
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