Mrs. Martha King, a speaker provided by Elizabeth Anthony'96, Volunteer Archivist, Casady School
Mrs. King is a former Catholic nun who was teaching at McGuinness Elizabeth Anthony
in 1965 when the marchers in Selma asked for female clergy to join them. Mrs. King flew to Selma and marched." - Elizabeth Anthony'96, Casady Volunteer Archivist.
Mrs. King has continued her commitment through service during retirement. As recently as two years ago, she received the Senior Volunteer of the Year from Infant Crisis Services.
"Once upon a time I was in high school - a private school like Casady. It was in Tulsa - a Catholic high school for girls: Monte Casino. It was the 1950s. All of the students were white. Everyone in my neighborhood was white. I guess I thought the whole world was white. I did know a few black students from an all-black Catholic school called St. Monica’s located in North Tulsa. I knew them because we were members of a state-wide group called Young Christian Students. Racism was a meaningless word to me - until one weekend when I and other officers of the Young Christian Student organization went to a meeting some distance from Tulsa. Several of us were traveling in a van and decided to stop for hamburgers around lunch time. Ron, the black student representative from St. Monica’s said that he wasn’t hungry and would just wait for us in the car. At first I thought nothing of that. But then I noticed that one of our sponsors bought an extra burger and said that he was going to take it out to Ron. It hit me like a bolt of lightning - Ron hadn’t come in with us because he knew he would not have been served. I liked Ron. It made no sense to me why he couldn’t sit at a table in a public restaurant and eat with us.
Fifteen years later I was a Benedictine nun ( teaching English and Journalism at Bishop McGuinness and wearing traditional nun’s clothing). The civil rights movement was in full swing - schools were being integrated through bussing; red-lining neighborhoods (not allowing black families to move into white areas) was being legally challenged; Jim Crow laws were being ignored. Voting rights were being tested and Selma Alabama became a key testing ground. The population of Selma then was 30,000 - 1/2 Black and 1/2 white. Less than 1% of the Blacks were registered to vote. A black woman I talked with told me that any Negro who wanted to be listed in the City Directory was listed by first name only. Some businesses sent bills to Negroes using only their first name on the envelop. She explained that was a way of saying, “you aren’t on my level.”
In response to a request from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in March of 1965 for nuns and priests to join the voter registration demonstrations in Selma, I and another Benedictine went to Selma. This was just days after an attempted march to the State Capital in Montgomery. I’m sure you’ve seen the news accounts of the brutality of that first march. A second attempted march was called off by Dr. King because he realized that the brutality would be repeated. That was a courageous decision - but a very wise one. A third attempt was planned but Dr. King was not willing to lead it unless a federal court order of protection was granted. I was in Selma during the waiting period for that order.
Negroes in the neighborhood around Brown Chapel housed people. Many churches fed the people. I spent the nights on a mattress on the floor of the Good Samaritan Catholic Hospital (the only hospital who treated the blacks injured in the bridge incident.) In just a few days hundreds of sympathizers came to Selma; a community of “outside agitators” formed and the nation began to pay attention.
Each morning we “outside agitators” lined up in Selma ready to begin the march the moment the permit was issued. We faced Sheriff Jim Clark and many troopers. Anyone stepping out of line could be arrested. It was really scary. We were told that a white man does not know what fear is - the fear that stems from the lack of freedom to walk even on common city streets. We knew that a white man (Rev. James Reeb, a Unitarian minister from Boston) had been killed on a Selma street by angry whites. A black minister said “It’s a crying shame that it took the death of a white man in Alabama to arouse the ire of a nation when Black men have been dying here month after month.” No one was arrested while I was there. However, earlier that month Sheriff Clark had stopped a large group of black teens who wanted to march to the local courthouse. He told them they could not do that but that he would give them a march to remember. He lined up the state trooper cars bumper to bumper and ran the youngsters for miles. One girl fell from exhaustion. She was hit with a club until she got up and continued to run. The run only broke up when the youngsters found themselves near a wooded area. They dispersed and headed for the woods. They were not pursued.
When it was clear that the permit would not be issued the day we had gathered for a march, classes on non-violence were organized. A great deal of emphasis was placed on non-violence. We role played many situations. This went on for several days. I had to return to Okla. City to teach before the order finally came down. But concerned people continued to arrive in Selma. 25.000 people marched into Montgomery. Later that year the Voting Rights Bill was signed into law. But the root problems have yet to go away.
Now it’s your generation that is challenged to face the problem of racism. Its roots are deep. It’s hard to know what to do. Have you ever tried to weed a garden plot? If you have, then you know that you just have to start - pull out one weed after another and do the same next week when they're back! We have these yearly holidays - like Martin Luther King Day - so that we don’t forget to keep on weeding. Consider seeing the movie Selma again. Visit the race relation exhibit at the Oklahoma Historical Society and look at the water fountains side by side - one labeled White and the other Black. It’s an informative exhibit. Consider your community involvement activities as an opportunity for you to learn something - as well as an opportunity for you to help others.
When I was teaching at McGuinness I was part of a small community of Benedictine Sisters. Housing was a part of our salary. We asked for a house to be rented for us in the NorthEast section of Okla. City - in an area traditionally thought of as “the black part of town.” We got a lovely home and I have lived NorthEast ever since in fully integrated neighborhoods - a rich experience. It’s a small thing to do but if each of us can do just one small thing, big changes have a chance. You have some big challenges but I bet you’re up to the task."
Seondre Carolina'15 Ithaca University, MLK Scholar My trip to SELMA as a MLK Scholar.
I'm Seondre Carolina now a Casady alumni as of last year attending Ithaca College in New York as an MLK Scholar. The Martin Luther King Scholar Program is a dynamic learning community, developing future leaders and global citizens who are committed to promoting King’s legacy of social justice and equality in their personal and professional lives, engaging in public services, building bridges to other communities, and educating others with their international perspective. With next week being MLK service Week I thought I would come back and tell you all a little bit about what I've experienced and seen in college as an MLK Scholar while sharing a little bit of history and background of the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr’s past.
During fall break I had the privilege of taking a civil rights trip where I visited Selma, Montgomery, and Birmingham Alabama. Along with Atlanta, Georgia. In all of the places I visited during the Civil Rights Tour Martin Luther King Jr. had played a role in pushing the movement.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a Baptist minister and social activist, who led the Civil Rights Movement in the United States from the mid-1950s until his death in 1968. But during MLKs life he led the Civil Rights movement with a passive and non-aggressive approach. Martin Luther King Jr. was the leader of the SCLC (Southern Christian Leadership Conference). Through his activism, he played a major role in ending the legal segregation of African-American citizens in the United States.
While in Selma I went to the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Famous for the Selma to
Montgomery March which had failed the first two times due to increased
opposition from state troopers. But after a U.S. District court judge ordered the
state to let them pass, plus with the backing of President Lydon B Johnson, and
Martin Luther King leading the way, a March consisting of 2,000 people marched
50 plus miles in an effort to support and raise awareness of the difficult process
and discrimination in the voting registration process for black voters in the south. It served as one of the crucial tipping points of the civil rights movement and would eventually capture the eyes of the world as event after event would unfold on that bridge helping the rest of the world see the importance of Civil rights and equality in the United States and the passing of the Voting Rights act in 1965 which aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote.
While in Montgomery I went to Dexter Avenue Baptist Church which was
originally a slave trader pen before a group of members from the First Baptist
Church purchased it to form their own church in 1879. The Church was home to
the 20th pastor Reverene Dr. Martin Luther King jr. in 1954. The church served as a meeting place for many civic, educational and religious groups. Along with many civil rights movements such as the 1956 Bus Boycott. It was located right down the street from the Capitol of Alabama which was also the Capital of the Confederacy even further back in time. The Capitol of Alabama was designed to look almost exactly like the Capitol of the United States to resemble the strength of the south.
But even with the government being right down the street MLK continued to
preach equality and lead the civil rights movement.
While in Birmingham I went to the sixteenth street baptist church. Which was
primarily known for the Bombing on September 15, 1963 that took the life of 4
little girls, Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and 11-year-old
Cynthia Wesley. The bomb took out part of the front of the building along with
shattering several of the stained glass windows around the building. Martin Luther King went to all of the families of the girls to give his condolences and speak at 3 of the 4 girls funerals in hopes of calming the already angered friends, family, and community that the girls came from. The event that unfolded at the church would later on be one of the main influences for the successful passing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act which outlawed discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, color, or national origin.
My final stop was in Atlanta, Georgia where Martin Luther King's house and final
resting place could be found. Martin Luther King was born on January 15th 1929
hence MLK Day, in an upstairs middle room and lived there till 1941 where it
would later become a National Historic Site featuring his house, Ebenezer Baptist
Church and his gravesite. MLK left a legacy that continues to be remembered till
this day. He lead the civil rights movement, and paved the way for equality and
social justice for all in the United States.
Seondre also spoke and inspired YAC members to serve on MLK Day Seondre presented his chapel speech to YAC members and shared his MLK Scholar experience with them.
Cleats for Kids Fundraiser: Heritage Casady last basketball games provide the platform to raise funding and sports equipment for OKC children via sale of t-shirts and gently worn sports equipment and cleats.
A sophomore student provided the opportunity to wear an out of uniform Thursday, 1/14/2016 for a $2 donation. The monies raised will provide educational resources for Indian children in need. Bring two dollars to Mrs. Pardue. Wear comfortable clothing, help a child's education. The project raised over $ 700.