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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.

 

 

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