Hear My Story, the story of the unsung heroines of the Civil Rights
Movement, was the first public program sponsored by OWN. Held on
September 20 and 21, 2001, the event drew a full house despite the
jarring events of 9/11. Audiences were reeling from the aftermath of
having our nation attacked by terrorists. As they mourned the deaths
of those killed in the World Trade Center, they poured out their
admiration and respect for the sacrifices these brave heroines of
the Civil Rights Movement had made for all our countries' citizens.
This outstanding program would not have been possible without
the combined efforts of many, many people, including Lee Wilder,
program chairman; the 20 women who either participated in the
program or video; members of OWN and other volunteers; Oglethorpe
University staff, including Dr. Large; and faculty and students.
Also vital to our success were the collaborations and support
we obtained from sponsors, including the Women’s Studies Program at
Duke University; Ingrid Saunders Jones and The Coca-Cola Company;
Sallie Daniel and Milton Jones of Bank of America; Sally Sears and
Jocelyn Dorsey of WSB-TV and staff members, Jamilla Shelton and
Ronnie Hoof; The Kuse Foundation; First Union National Bank (now
Wachovia); and individual donors.
Our hope is that Hear My Story will have a lasting place in our
history as ordinary women demonstrate wisdom and
leadership beyond their years. They are exemplary models of
strength, courage and conviction.
A Legacy of Hear My Story
By Lee Wilder
The inaugural program of OWN lives on, rewarding evidence of
the value of our efforts to enlighten, inform and entertain. Lee
Wilder, co-chair of that program, was asked by the dean of students
at The Bryn Mawr School to plan a program for their high school
students. Bryn Mawr is a private girls school in Baltimore,
Maryland, dating back over 75 years. Lee immediately asked Dr.
Josphine Bradley to share her story with the students of Bryn Mawr.
Dr. Bradley, who single-handedly desegregated Greensboro (NC)
High School in 1957, was a panelist for the September 2001 OWN
program, Hear My Story. She was also interviewed in the video
archive that has now been distributed to many schools and viewed by
hundreds of people.
The format of the January 17, 2003, program at Bryn Mawr was an
informal interview with Lee Wilder serving as interviewer. The
students were absolutely silent and listening to every word of Dr.
Bradley’s story about ongoing threatening phone calls, verbal abuse
at school and harassment. The audience groaned hearing about a young
girl being pelted with eggs and ketchup on a daily basis but
refusing to quit, and they were equally moved by the story of three
young white girls who took a stand and befriended young Josephine
Byrd. Dr. Bradley received a lengthy and heartfelt standing ovation
and many students came up to the stage to personally thank her.
After the program, there was an informal lunch in a seminar
room and students crowded in for conversations with Dr. Bradley and
a discussion of current race relations. It was a moving day for Lee,
Dr. Bradley and The Bryn Mawr community, and a heartwarming
validation of OWN’s programming philosophy.