What does it mean to be a white ally in the fight against racism and white supremacy? Joan Trumpauer Mulholland‘s activism is a great of example.
Joan was a segregationist’s worst nightmare. A good southern girl, descendent of slave owners, who spent her youth fighting for racial equality. Joan was forced out of Duke University, disowned by her family and hunted by the Ku Klux Klan. She, along with Stokely Carmichael (the activist and later SNCC chairman) and Hank Thomas, were jailed in Mississippi for participating in the 1961 Freedom Rides. After being released, she saw how angry segregationists were after Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Hamilton E. Holmes integrated the University of Georgia and thought, “Now if whites were going to riot when black students were going to white schools, what were they going to do if a white student went to a black school?” She then enrolled in Tougaloo College in Jackson, Miss., where she met Medgar Evers, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Reverend Ed King, and Anne Moody. Two years later Joan became the first white member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She later became the secretary of SNCC, participated in the most violent sit-in of the Civil Rights Movement and helped planned the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
In 2014, the award-winning documentary, “An Ordinary Hero” was released about Joan’s life.