This week marks 50 years since the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, Alabama. On May 2, 1963, more than a thousand African-American children gathered in downtown Birmingham to peacefully protest segregation. Then a teenager, Janice W. Kelsey remembers the Southern Christian Leadership Conference meetings that opened her eyes to the realities of the Jim Crow South.
"I had become accustomed to the way things were, in terms of seeing the signs that indicated where I could drink water or use a restroom or sit and order food," she explains. "I thought all was well, that we were separate but I thought equal."
She soon learned the truth. "What confronted me about injustice was when it was brought to my attention that my school was inferior to the white schools in my area. It was shown that separate definitely was not equal."
Kelsey left high school to march in the Children's Crusade and faced arrest as Birmingham police, led by the infamous commissioner Eugene "Bull" Connor, attacked her friends with high pressure fire hoses, police dogs and clubs.