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Monday, March 30, 2015

Fifty Years After RSCJ and Barat Students Marched...Chicago Students Plan Civil Rights Travel Study to Selma

Photo of Nancy Kane, rscj and Al Pounian at the Montgomery Airport taken

Earlier this month, I learned that friends of OAV (Our American Voice) were helping to raise funds so that students from the Libby Elementary school in Chicago could participate in a Civil Rights travel study program.  The students are raising funds so that they can travel during their spring break in April to Memphis, Montgomery and Selma. The students will learn from the past how to become better citizens today.  For more info on the Civil Rights Travel Study Fundraiser click here!

As a member of the Barat Education Foundation Board, I was pleased to help support the effort of these students from Libby Elementary school.  I did so in memory of two RSCJ that taught history at Barat College: Sisters Nancy Kane and Marguerite Green, RSCJ.    

In her book, BARAT COLLEGE: A LEGACY, A SPIRIT AND A NAME, Martha Curry, RSCJ interviewed Sr. Kane to get her recollections of the trip she took with fellow faculty members: Margurite Green, RSCJ and Al Pounian and twenty-four Barat College (Lake Forest, IL) students in 1965.  

The excerpts below were taken from pages 141 and 142 of Sr. Curry's book.  

Barat Students March to Montgomery, Alabama, 1965
         "At the time when the Civil Rights Movement of the mid- and late- 1960’s was embroiling the country, the most notable example of the social activism of Barat’s faculty and students was participation in the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in March of 1965. On March 24, twenty-four students accompanied by the chairman of the Art Department, Albert Pounian, left by train for Montgomery, and the next day Mothers Marguerite Green and Nancy Kane flew to Montgomery. Both the train and the airplane arrived in Montgomery about noon on March 25 and, therefore, the contingent from Barat did not march with Martin Luther King the whole fifty miles from Selma.  They joined the march in Montgomery at a black church, the Church of St. Jude, and continued the three-plus mile march to the capitol."  

News Article and photo of Nancy Kane, RSCJ from Society Archives

         "By the middle of March, Barat’s faculty had voted that the college as an institution “should do something if the opportunity arose.” 13  The student council had asked each class for an indication of student support and received a donation of $200 from its general fund.  Other donations totaling $300 came from the college’s social committee and from chairs of the social committees of the four academic classes. These donations were sufficient to support eleven students in their travel to Alabama, and thirteen other students paid their own way."
Marguerite Green, RSCJ 
photo from Barat College Collection

         "An article in Barat News that covered the events of the march described the speeches delivered on the steps of the capitol in Montgomery by MartinLuther King, Jr., and Whitney Young. The article recounted that, when one small black girl saw Mother Kane in her habit, she exclaimed, “That’s my church.” Of the three faculty members who participated in the events in Montgomery, only Mother Kane was living at the time of the author’s interviews; and she was able to fill in many details. She remembered that all the black churches were open that day to accommodate the marchers, and she commented on the cheering they received as they progressed through the black neighborhoods. “There was a great euphoria like we were coming into the Kingdom. . . . As we got close to [the capitol], the atmosphere changed and we were really sort of scared. . . . I never felt such hatred.” Sister Kane went on to explain that since their flight back to Chicago did not leave until the next morning, she, Mother Green, and Professor Pounian slept on benches in St. Jude Church overnight. The students returned to Chicago by train on the evening of March 25. "

Please join me in helping fund the good works of the OAV and make it possible for the students of Libby Elementary school to participate in this Civil Rights Travel Study to Selma.  To donate click here.

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