Thurgood Marshall Award Acceptance Speech by Lula White transcribed
Lula White Receives Thurgood Marshall Award
As reported in the last newsletter, Lula White of New Haven, a former Freedom Rider during the Civil Rights Movement [and a long-time member of PAR], received the Quinnipiac University Black Law Students Association’s Thurgood Marshall Award on Feb. 25. We are grateful that LouAnn Heller recorded the speech and transcribed it for our readers. Congratulations, Lula! You are an inspiration.
We give all the credit to all the leaders. But where would all the leaders be without the followers? And I was one of these followers.
I’d like to recognize some people who should be recognized. First of all, since we are in a law school, I’d like to recognize all the lawyers, black and white, who worked pro bono in the civil rights movement.
I want to also recognize a lot of the Southern black students who were part of the civil rights movement because they had more to lose than northern students had. Some were kicked out of the universities they attended, even the black universities that they attended. Some of them who planned to become teachers never got jobs, at least down South because they were blackballed.
I want to thank women Freedom Riders who were mothers. I was very young, but I don’t think I could have left my children even if I had a good husband to take care of them. I want to thank those women who stayed away from their children for two months so they could stand with us and march. And I want to thank their husbands too.
I also want to thank the Southerners who provided homes for civil rights workers at great risk to themselves. They could have lost their jobs, their homes could have been blown up. Yet they got no credit.
And last but not least I’d like to thank the clergy for being so supportive of the movement. I especially remember one clergyman who was a rabbi. He drove up to Parchman where we were incarcerated and spoke to each of us. He took each one of our names, our parents’ names and addresses and wrote to them. He said “I have seen your daughter today and she’s well and in good spirits”. That took a lot of courage because Jews were not liked in the South. In fact his synagogue was bombed.
And let’s not forget the children who took part in the movement. People said they were used, that they were pushed by unscrupulous adults. They were not being used. Even a child knows what freedom is and they missed their laws too.