Her Fight Against Segregation Made Her A Hero

Civil rights demonstrators at Woolworth's counter
Shonda Buchanan
March 3, 2021

Doris Jean Castle had trained for this moment, but she was also tired – of segregation, of white terrorists, of the horrible mistreatment her grandmother’s generation had endured. Racists thought they could do anything to us! 

Encouraged by her sister, Castle was about to change that.

One of the youngest members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Freedom Riders, Castle remembered what her grandmother always told her: "Don't ever bow to anybody when you feel...or know you're right.” 

So, when the police officers yelled at Castle, she didn’t budge. They surrounded her.

She thought of the training she and other Civil Rights leaders, committed to non-violence, had endured to prepare for these moments. In her chair at the segregated New Orleans city hall cafeteria, she braced herself for blows. 

Instead, the racists did something they later regretted.

They picked up her chair and carried her out! When images of her graceful exodus hit newsstands, her bravery and resistance rippled across the country. Desegregation activists were invigorated.

Because of her determination to live up to her grandmother’s and sister’s encouragement and create a new world for us, Castle showed that when racists go low, we can go high – and win!

When we decide to determine our own destinies despite racist discrimination and harassment, we can support a revolution in our communities that, eventually, will achieve racial justice and equality.

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