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How the Civil Rights Movement Created a New Political Awareness

The Selma High School Class of 1971:

James Perkins Jr., 61
Location: Selma, Alabama

Chanette Thompson, 61
Location: Alpharetta, Georgia

Rose Wilkins, 62
Location: Smyrna, Georgia

Joseph Smith, 62
Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia

Interview facilitated by Joseph Smith and Charles Williams


They were children when the civil rights marches of 1965 changed the world forever, and now they have children of their own. They are the Selma High School class of 1971, and they have vivid memories of the turbulent period leading up to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. While the movement altered the political consciousness of a nation, the people who lived through that trying time have partially failed to pass on their stories to the new generation, some of Selma, Alabama, graduates say.

"It's exciting because I see in our children a determination to be engaged in the process and the voting process," says James Perkins Jr. "I think we're going to have to tell our stories more to our children. I think that is one thing that we're kind of failed in a lot of engagements in our community."

Watch as James and his classmates, including Chanette Thompson, Rose Wilkins and Joseph Smith, share their hopes for the future of civil engagement.

Hear more stories from people who were at the ground level of the civil rights marches
Published 01/19/2015
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