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How Black Women Fought Back: an email from Montgomery

Since the book came out, I have received numerous emails from women around the country telling me their stories. Most echo the testimonies of the black women I write about. But every now and then I hear a story that shocks me all over again. I want to share it with you:

I am now 68 yrs old, growing up in Montgomery in the 50’s and 60’s was no joke!White boys would chase us on our way home from school in broad daylight, I was in the 5th grade, my Momma would say, “Run to the nearest house & seek refuge” One day a group of them followed me in their pickup truck, saying awful things to me, I was so scared until I could hear my heart beating, I remembered what my Momma said and ran up on this Black lady front porch, I banged on that door sooo hard, she said in a annoying voice “who is it?”, I said, “some white men are trying to get me”, said: “just a minute”, she came to the door with a double barrel shotgun and shot up in the air… you should have seen those boys scatter!

What strikes me most about this is the terror that still animates the story.  It feels as though it happened yesterday.  The fear feels very real and very recent. From a historical standpoint, the story is fascinating on a few levels. First, it shows that black mothers talked to their daughters about the dangers facing them when they left home each day. And it illustrates how black mothers instructed their daughters and taught them what to do when and if white men tried to attack them. Other women in the community stood ready to assist black girls in danger and, most surprising, ready to use weapons when necessary.