This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, deepen your understanding of the history of civil rights in America by listening to the voices of people who lived it. Below is a collection of StoryCorps conversations between civil rights activists, trailblazers, and loved ones about Martin Luther King Jr. and the enduring legacy of the civil rights movement.
Help us honor the many voices of the civil rights movement by recording the stories of someone you know. By sitting down with someone you love for a StoryCorps conversation, you’re showing them that their stories matter and preserving them for generations. You can record in person using the StoryCorps App, or remotely using StoryCorps Connect.
Historic Black Voices
We Go Up Together Or We Go Down Together
On this episode of the StoryCorps podcast, we revisit the final hours of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life through the experiences of some people who were there with him.
Read the full transcript here.
Dr. King Did His Own Eulogy
Clara Jean Ester, 72, remembers bearing witness to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s final speech in 1968, and rushing to his side the next day when he was assassinated.
Read the full transcript here.
How Dr. King Inspired a Young John Lewis
Congressman John Lewis remembers how Dr. King’s words inspired him to join the Civil Rights Movement.
We Walked From Sunup to Sunset
Lawrence Cumberbatch tells his son Simeon about what it was like to be present on the podium behind Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
When Dr. King Drove Down the Street
Tom Houck shares memories of dropping out of high school in 1965 to fight for civil rights, and becoming Dr. King’s personal driver.
The Leesburg Stockade Girls
In 1963, more than a dozen African American girls, including Carol Barner-Seay, Shirley Reese, Diane Bowens, and Verna Hollis, were arrested for protesting segregation in Americus, Georgia. At StoryCorps, they remember being held in a small makeshift jail for nearly two months.
A More Perfect Union
When Theresa Burroughs came of voting age, she was ready to cast her ballot — but she had a long fight ahead of her. During the Jim Crow era, the board of registrars at Alabama’s Hale County Courthouse prevented African American people from registering to vote. Undeterred, Theresa remembers venturing to the courthouse on the first and third Monday of each month, in pursuit of her right to vote.
Wendell Scott was the first African American person inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. His son, Frank, remembers what it took for his father to cross the finish line at tracks throughout the South.
Eyes on the Stars
On January 28, 1986, NASA Challenger mission STS-51-L ended in tragedy when the shuttle exploded after takeoff. On board was physicist Ronald E. McNair, the second African American person to enter space. But first, he was a kid with big dreams in Lake City, South Carolina.
The Kissing Case
Remembering the Assassination of Civil Rights Leader Edwin Pratt
Remembering Civil Rights Activist Herbert Lee, Sr.
Dion Diamond: Reflections on 60 Years of Civil Rights Activism
Top photo: Artwork by Lyne Lucien.
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