Joan Trumpauer Mulholland grew up in Virginia in the 1950s and witnessed the injustice of segregation firsthand. As a teenager, she joined the Civil Rights Movement, attending demonstrations and sit-ins. Because of her passionate belief in the cause, she was involved in several important and historically significant events.
She was at several key moments in the Civil Rights struggle:
- The Freedom Rides of 1961
- The Woolworth’s lunch counter sit-ins in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1963
- The March on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963
- The Selma to Montgomery March in 1965
“Segregation was unfair. It was wrong, morally, religiously. As a Southerner — a white Southerner — I felt that we should do what we could to make the South better and to rid ourselves of this evil.”
Joan was asked many times why she was putting her life in danger for the Civil Rights movement. Why had she left her family and friends and her old way of life, to fight for the cause? Her response, at least to herself, was a poem she wrote called “Dialogue”. The poem, Joan said, is “still my response. It still explains my attitude toward what I’ve done on the Civil Rights issue, primarily motivated by being a Southern and a Christian, and incidentally, an American.”
WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?
WHAT DID YOU DO?
NOTHING BUT ACT LIKE AN AMERICAN.
WHY DID YOU DO THAT?
I THOUGHT YOU WERE A SOUTHERNER.
BECAUSE I’M A SOUTHERNER.
I’M A CHRISTIAN.
THAT’S WHAT THEY ALL SAY.
BUT FOR A DIFFERENT REASON.
I READ THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
YOU ARE STRANGE.
BUT NOT ALONE.