Black History : Today In Black History

The Courageous Eight:

Ulysses Blackmon Sr.​

Role in the marches:

Ulysses Blackmon Sr. was a Korean War veteran and Lutheran educator who taught math, according to the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. He graduated from Knoxville College in Tennessee and joined the Dallas County Voters League in 1950.

What his family says about his contributions:

"The Courageous Eight (was) an unselfish, cohesive group. No one part is greater than the whole. No one took credit for anything and because of the military structure that was in there, because of those veterans, they knew leadership. They knew that everybody had their place and everybody had their role that they needed to play, and nobody questioned that role. They served the country and then when they came home, the inequality that they experienced education, jobs they had another fight to take on."

– Ulysses Blackmon Jr., son of Ulysses Blackmon Sr.

Rev. John D. Hunter​

Rev. John D. Hunter, a member of the Courageous Eight.

Role in the marches:

Rev. John D. Hunter was a minister who became president of Selma's chapter of the NAACP in 1950. His son, Phillip Hunter, said he often invited attorneys to Selma to take on cases others would shy away from.

What his family says about his contributions:

"My father, he was nonviolent person but he didn't take any stuff. He didn't participate in a lot of the marches because he probably would've struck out (or) retaliated versus just taking a hit."

– Phillip Hunter, son of Rev. John D. Hunter

Rev. Frederick Douglas Reese​

Role in the marches:

Rev. Frederick Douglas Reese was a pastor and an educator in Selma for over 50 years. He joined the Dallas County Voters League in 1960. He was elected president four years later. He was also president of the Selma Teachers Association and led teachers on a march to the local courthouse to register to vote in January 1965. Some locals didn't want Rev. King in Selma because they thought he'd shed a negative light on the movement, said Reese's grandson, Alan Reese. When the Courageous Eight invited him to the area, it didn't sit well with some. Still, the group pushed forward.

What his family says about his contributions:

"Different leaders in Selma ridiculed him for inviting Dr. King. He went against Selma, Alabama to invite Dr. King there and then Selma benefited from that movement."

– Alan Reese, grandson of Rev. Frederick Douglas Reese

Amelia Boynton Robinson​

In March of 2015, President Barack Obama, center, walks as he holds hands with Amelia Boynton Robinson, who was beaten during Bloody Sunday, as they and the first family and others including Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., left of Obama, walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala. for the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a landmark event of the civil rights movement. From front left are Marian Robinson, Sasha Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, President Obama, Boynton and Adelaide Sanford, also in wheelchair.

Role in the marches:

Amelia Boynton Robinson was a businesswoman who, with her partner Sam Boynton, began fighting for civil rights in the 1930s. Her husband died in 1963 and Boynton Robinson used his memorial service as the first mass meeting for Black people in Selma. The next year, she ran for Congress, becoming the first Black woman in Alabama to do so. She was present on Bloody Sunday, March 7, 1965. She marched behind John Lewis and was tear-gassed and beaten unconscious, the Associated Press reported.

What her family says about her contributions:

"She was 9 years old. She was riding with her mother in a horse and buggy going from house to house. It was during women's suffrage and women gaining the right to vote. (She was) handing out leaflets to encourage women to register to vote. I always found that very interesting that at that age, she was exposed to that and mirrored it with her life later on."

– Carver Boynton-Pearson, granddaughter of Amelia Boynton Robinson

Marie Foster​

Leaders of a march to Selma's City Hall exit the mayor's office, Feb. 7, 1990. About 600 marchers gathered at the building to protest the leadership of the city's school system. From left: Selma Mayor Joe Smitherman, standing by window, and march leaders Ron Peoples, J.L. Chestnut and Marie Foster.

Role in the marches:

Marie Foster was recruited to join the movement in 1962 by Amelia Boynton Robinson. Both Foster and Boynton Robinson became the first two women to join the Dallas County Voters League. Foster helped organize voter registration classes and taught people to read in the basement of Tabernacle Baptist Church. On Bloody Sunday, Foster was hit by a state trooper, her knees left swollen and bruised. Days later, she joined in additional marches and trekked 50 miles from Selma to Montgomery.

In her words:

USA TODAY was unable to speak with foster's daughter for this story, but in a 2003 LA Times oral history for the Voting Rights Museum, she noted that she became involved in the civil rights movement because race relations in Selma were so bad.

“I had a vision that we could do something about the bias conditions in Selma, the state and someday the world.”

James Gildersleeve​

James Gildersleeve and his wife, Ludy Dunning Gildersleeve. James Gildersleeve was a member of the Courageous Eight, a group that spearheaded the voting rights movement in Selma.

Role in the marches:

James Gildersleeve was a Lutheran educator who taught civics and political science. He joined the Dallas County Voters League in 1950. He was a military policeman in World War II, allowing him to go to different parts of the world and see how Black people were treated outside of the U.S. Long before the Selma-to-Montgomery marches, Gildersleeve and others had begun protesting and educating the Black community.

What his family says about his contributions:

"Their character, their strategies, their persistence, their courage, their bravery and determination ... ended up resulting in the 1965 Voting Rights Act being passed. Our goal then was to get right to vote, using our ballot to speak for us, but we still have systemic poverty and poor Black neighborhoods going on, even today. It's going to take generations to come to continue to address the inequities in society."

– Linda Gildersleeve-Blackwell, daughter of James Gildersleeve

Ernest Doyle​

Ernest Doyle, a member of the Courageous Eight. The group spearheaded the voting rights movement in Selma.

Role in the marches:

Ernest Doyle was a WWII veteran and served as NAACP president for 15 years. On Bloody Sunday, he stayed inside because the group knew there was a chance violence would erupt and they didn't want to lose all of their leaders, said his granddaughter. He marched on March 21, 1965. Doyle and other local leaders were also part of the push to integrate the city's schools. Doyle, who had taken up interior and exterior decorating and carpentry, suffered financially and was blacklisted, as were other signees and activists, he wrote in a firsthand account of his experiences. His wife, Ruth Doyle, was also a teacher who lost her job because she went to mass meetings. She couldn't get a job in Alabama so she had to teach in Georgia instead. Each week, she'd trek to Georgia, teach, then head back to Selma. Ruth Doyle died in a car wreck on one of those trips, but Ernest didn't stop his activism. In 1970, Doyle became the first Black person on Selma's city council since Reconstruction.

What his family says about his contributions:

"I would have thought that having the experiences they'd had, that they would be racist or they would be biased, but that wasn't it at all. There was no animosity. They just wanted their rights. He just wanted what was right."

– Shannah Tharp-Gilliam, granddaughter of Ernest Doyle

Rev. Henry Shannon Sr.​

Rev. Henry Shannon Sr., a member of the Courageous Eight.

Role in the marches:

Rev. Henry Shannon Sr. served in the U.S. Army and received a World War II victory medal, a bronze star and a good conduct medal. He was a barber and joined the Dallas County Voters League in 1950. His son, Harry Shannon, said his father was a powerful man, a jack of all trades and a master of none.

What his family says about his contributions:

"He'd often say 'If you've got something on your mind, don't sit on it. Move on it.' He had PhD in common sense. He'd always tell me to engage my brain before I open my mouth. I'm the proud son of a proud man."

– Harry Shannon, Son of Rev. Henry Shannon Sr.

'Foundation of the bridge': Recalling 'Courageous Eight' who risked all to spearhead Selma marches​

Their names are Ulysses Blackmon Sr., Amelia Boynton Robinson, Ernest Doyle, Marie Foster, James Gildersleeve, Rev. John D. Hunter, Rev. Henry Shannon Sr. and Rev. Frederick Douglas Reese.​

Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Brazilian Portuguese: [ˈɛtsõ aˈɾɐ̃tʃiz du nasiˈmẽtu]; 23 October 1940 – 29 December 2022), better known by his nickname Pelé (Portuguese pronunciation: [peˈlɛ]), was a Brazilian professional footballer who played as a forward. Widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, he was among the most successful and popular sports figures of the 20th century.[2][3] In 1999, he was named Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee and was included in the Time list of the 100 most important people of the 20th century. In 2000, Pelé was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) and was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the Century. His 1,279 goals in 1,363 games, which includes friendlies, is recognised as a Guinness World Record.[4]...



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