In July of 1963, a group of African American protesters were arrested during a series of non-violent, anti-segregation demonstrations in Americus, Georgia. More than a dozen girls, some as young as 12, were taken to the county jail before being transferred to an old, abandoned stockade in Leesburg, Georgia, 30 miles away from home.
Their parents had no idea where they were. And although the girls were never formally charged with a crime, they’d stay in Leesburg for nearly two months — in a small, run-down building with concrete floors, barred windows, and a broken toilet.
More than fifty years after their release, several of the Leesburg girls, now women in their sixties, came back together to share their experience. In this episode, they shine a light on this overlooked moment in civil rights history.
Top photo: Artwork by Eleanor Davis.
Second photo: Young women are held in the Leesburg Stockade after being arrested for demonstrating in Americus, GA. They have no beds or sanitary facilities. From left to right: Melinda Jones Williams (13), Laura Ruff Saunders (13), Mattie Crittenden Reese, Pearl Brown, Carol Barner Seay (12), Annie Ragin Laster (14), Willie Smith Davis (15), Shirley Green (age 14, later Dr. Shirley Green-Reese), and Billie Jo Thornton Allen (13). Seated: Verna Hollis (15). Photo by Danny Lyon/Magnum Photos.
Third photo: Emmarene Kaigler-Streeter, Carol Barner-Seay, Shirley Green-Reese and Diane Bowens outside the former Lee County Stockade in Leesburg, GA in 2016. Photo by Alletta Cooper.
Bottom photo: Joseph Jones III with his mother, Verna Hollis, at their StoryCorps interview in Americus, GA. Verna was unaware that she was pregnant with Joseph while she was held at the stockade. She died in 2017. Photo by Alletta Cooper.
Released on January 8, 2019.