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Joan C. Browning Speaks at Concord

By Josie Hanna
On November 30, 2017

Joan C. Browning spoke about her role as a woman of the civil rights movement.
Photo by Caleb Zopp

On Monday, Nov. 13, Concord University hosted Albany Freedom Rider Joan C. Browning, who gave a lecture on “Women of the Civil Rights Movement.” Browning is no stranger to CU as she was a speaker during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event, as well as a former adjunct professor.

    Browning was born in a 1942 and lived in a tenant’s house in Georgia. For her, she stated that education was the only way out even though only 10 percent of children from her area went on to attend college.

    During her school career, she was named “star student,” but was upset to find out that she was only tested against those who shared her skin color, which left her wondering if she really was the smartest in her school. She entered college at Georgia State College for Women where she found herself in trouble for attending an African American church. Due to community outrage, her scholarships were revoked, and at age 18, she moved to Atlanta where she really began her work in the movement.

    During her 45-minute talk, Browning addressed many women and topics pertaining to the Civil Rights movement and her involvement. She spoke about her personal involvement as a volunteer with the Student Nonviolence Coordinating Committee, her experiences in prison for 10 days during the Albany Freedom Ride, and other parts of the movement.

    Other women discussed were Rosa Parks, Dianne Nash, Ella Baker, Lenore Tate, Norma Collins, Sandra “Casey” Cason Hayden, and Dorie Lander.     

    Rosa Parks is the most well-known of this group for her part of the movement by unknowingly starting the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Dianne Nash was the only female to lead a sit-in which she did in Nashville. She was also involved in the work done in Selma, and she helped to continue the freedom rides. Sandra “Casey” Cason Hayden and Dorie Lander helped to organize the historic march on Washington, D.C. Ella Baker was also discussed as she played a critical part in the success of the movement. Browning even stated that “Ella Baker was the most important woman in my life other than my own mother.” There has also been a film made about her part in the movement titled “Fundi.”

    Following the lecture, a Question and Answer session was opened for attendees. Questions ranged from asking for more information on her time in prison for her part of the Albany Freedom ride to the importance of being an educated voter, and even asking for advice for future teachers on how to properly teach students about this specific time in history. Browning even asked the crowd questions about what concerns them in society today and what their thoughts were on how to address them.

    In May of 2011, the 50th anniversary of the movement was celebrated. Many of the women mentioned above, including Browning, were invited to be on the Oprah Show. In addition, they were invited to meet former President Barack Obama.

    This event was co-sponsored by the Geography Department and EQCU as part of Geography Week. A total of 83 students, faculty, and staff attended this event.

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