Unita Blackwell never seemed to get a break from racism. Her grandfather had been murdered by white terrorists, and her father had been targeted for protecting her mother against a white man’s sexual assault. That was all before she was five!
Like many Black children in the 1940s, she’d had to drop out of school in the 8th grade to pick cotton. In her early adulthood, a serious illness sent her to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead!
A few months later – she wasn’t going to go out like that – she had a son, and resolved that no child of hers was going to deal with what she’d had to.
She sued the school district for suspending Black children who wore Civil Rights symbols. When its progress was too slow, she pioneered the Freedom School movement, so Black children could learn in affirming environments. But her commitment to helping children didn’t end there.
Black children in rural areas were suffering. She ran for public office and brought infrastructure, services, and better housing to those communities. Blackwell’s relentless efforts improved the lives of thousands of children.
Young people have a powerful role to play in Black liberation; we cannot build a strong Black community without them! Those children Blackwell supported are today’s elders. How can you support the young people around you?