Janice Kelsey

Posted: August 8, 2010 in Janice Kelsey
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Janice Kelsey was introduced to her first “mass meeting” in the Birmingham Movement in 1963, and remembers personally being in the audience and hearing the messages of Martin Luther King, Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and Rev. Ralph Abernathy. She also remembers Rev. James Bevel’s speaking directly to the high school students, including herself about the grossly inequitable distribution of outdated books and educational equipment for students at Ullman high school, and other black schools, as compared with the books and equipment available to students at white high schools in the City. She remembers Rev. Bevel explaining the need for the children’s campaign, and her decision to participate in the workshops on nonviolence and join the children’s movement. She has special memories of May 2, 1963, “D-Day” – the first mass march in the “children’s campaign.” She remembers being stopped by police as she walked with other students from the Sixteenth Street Church toward City Hall, and that when the students stood in line following the police order to end their march, they were arrested on the spot and jailed. The next day, from her jail cell, she could see the now well-documented use of fire hoses and attack dogs (under the direction of “Bull” Connor) on the second group in the children’s campaign. Janice Kelsey went on to a 33-year career in education, as an acclaimed middle school and high school science teacher in the Birmingham School System, and as Principal of Dupy Elementary School and Powderly Elementary School.


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