“Sorting out who played more important roles, or who got their photo taken, isn't as important,” said Hezekiah Jackson IV, president of the Birmingham chapter of the NAACP said. "I don’t think it matters in the full scheme of things," he said. "Some people take it personally."-via Greg Garrison,Birmingham News Senior reporter. May 3, 2013
I think it matters greatly, and if it did not, why does The NAACP collects the names of 1963 activists as part of its Foot Soldiers Finder Project? I believe it matters in the case of Mamie King Chalmers, a great fighter for justice, equality and freedom of the American Black race, the truth matters to her, her legacy, and to the pages of history.
We must remember our beads by the deeds they have accomplished. The inability of Mamie King Chalmers to claim her image from day one, as depicted in Life Magazine, to freely stand and declare her place in history was misaligned and eventually corrected, but the hurt remains. Our words matter enormously. The way we choose to use our words to negate, apologize or honor matters to that particular person, their legacy, and I dare to say- to the audience bearing witness to your apology.
Mamie has continued her calling by helping others throughout her life and will continue to do so.
I want to express my thanks for all she endured as a youth fighting to attain the civil rights for African Americans which we tend to take for granted. May her fight for justice and equality flow through the blood of her lineage and the fight continue until it is no longer needed.
In the life of the Black American, there are many who have been forgotten, ignored, and their contributions to our history, distorted and misrepresented. I am honored to include Mamie King-Chalmers within the pages of Beads on a String-America’s Racially Intertwined Biographical History and ecstatic to be able to include my thoughts into the novel, Pride Restored which depicts her life as an American activist. Join me in getting to know more about an American icon and history maker.
Mrs. Chalmers, I know there were so many things going on during the Civil Rights era that needed to change, what made you become an activist? Was there a specific incident or many? How old were you when you first became involved?
There were plenty of reasons and incidents that caused me to get involved in the Children Crusade for The Civil Rights Movement. There was lynching, Racism, Segregation, Jim Crow Laws that govern us, Ordinances, Rapes, Police Brutality, Bombings, Unfair treatment of people of color, Poor housing, Unemployment, School system a complete failure, Harassment, the list goes on. Taxation without full representation these were the reasons I fought and march for people of colored. I became an Activist for the Liberation of our people who had suffered so much. I was very young when I learned firsthand about racism from my great grandfather Abe King. He was a slave/share cropper on the King plantation in Morango County, Alabama. After seeing the fearful life he led, and him afraid to leave the land. These were the things that inspired me to become an activist in The Civil Rights Movement. I got seriously involved at the age of 21 and became an organizer. I participated everyday leading the way, I remain in the forefront throughout the demonstration.
You were involved with many marches and demonstrations, the incident concerning the water hose, the iconic picture, and your identity being stolen, shows the epitome of the continued struggle for equality and recognition. I think everyone, especially where a name can be associated with an incident should be given their applause. What were your thoughts when you found out someone else was getting the glory for your contribution to history?
I couldn't believe it, for all the people in Birmingham who actually participated knew it was I Mamie King in all of the photos. Which I was always in the forefront which was captured on film and pictures and use for history purposes. There were so many pictures of me that Charles Moore had taken. Why didn't the imposter claim any of them? Surely you could see it was the same person; Me.
I was targeted by Public Safety Commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connors whenever he saw me he sent the dogs after me. The day of my hosing, Bull spotted me and sent the dogs after me. I ran for dear life seeking shelter, to a building across from Kelly Ingram Park. Bull order the Fire department to hose me, he gave them a direct order. "Turn the hoses on those niggas so they don't have to take a bath." The force of water was like bricks being hurled at my body, I am deaf in my right ear because of it.
Those were my experiences, I spent five days in jail, braved horrible conditions. My entire family participated, My father Berry King Sr. provide lunches and transportation to and from the Demonstrations. My brothers Berry Jr and Clarence King marched along side of me and were arrested too. There are photos of my sisters Mellissa and Ora marching with me. My brother Berry, was captured in photos with me also. I was an organizer so I went door to door in my neighborhood and outside communities gathering people to march.
So, to have someone steal My Life, My Identity, Accomplishments, Experiences and most of all my Pride and claim it as their own was unbelievable. Especially being that I'm still alive to verify that she, Carolyn Maull Mckinstry, was an imposter. The late Tommy Wrenn Chairman of the Civil Rights Committee knew it was me for we had marched together. I was told by Shirley Gavin-Floyd that he had looked for me for years before he expired. The imposter picked the wrong photo to claim for I have been diligently fighting for Civil Rights for 50+ years.
I am happy that my daughter LaSuria Kandi Allman was able to capture the attention of The Detroit News and Francis X Donnelly who wrote about my story. It was the 50th anniversary of actual day of my hosing when the articles about my Crusade For Justice were released. Divine Intervention
What kind of things are you continuing to do to support African Americans and other people of color?
I have been active in Civil Rights, Voter registration, feeding and clothing the homeless, Committee for Shoes for Liberia, I sits and comfort the terminally ill patients at hospices. I set programs up for children, Call to Care Ministry the list goes on. There is nothing I haven't done, I have contributed my time, effort, money etc. into helping others.
If there was something you could have done differently through the struggle, what would it be? Would it have made a difference in a specific outcome?
There is nothing I would change about our experiences of being on the front lines for equality and The Civil Rights Movement. For it was rewarding within itself a Life Lesson Learned. I would do it all over again If I had to.
Thank you, Mrs.Chalmers for taking time out of your schedule to take part in this interview, I have enjoyed getting to know you better. And thank you so much for being a very important Bead in our history.
In honor of her mothers crusade for justice, LaSuria Allman has written two books "Her Stolen Pride" which is available at the Book Patch
Take time to go over and visit LaSuria through her interview we had from earlier.
Mamie has continued her calling by helping others throughout her life and will continue to do so. Mamie has 9 children, 22 Grandchildren, 3 Great Grandchildren.
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