January , 2019

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By Juanita Bratcher

The beginning of my college years began at Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the “father” of the Civil Rights Movement, years earlier had led  a boycott against the city’s transportation system, triggered by Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man.

I was a young woman at the time, just out of high school, and was eyeing a professional music career – not a journalism career – as my career goal. I was gung ho on being a professional singer since I had been the lead singer of New Mt. Zion Baptist Church’s Junior Choir, the church I attended, and I had been nourished by my mom, other relatives, the pastor of the church and several members who encouraged me to pursue a career path goal as a professional singer. A lot of my enjoyable times were spent singing in the church choir and going on visits to other churches where the choir would perform various gospel songs.

My mom, Tommie Sean Pickens-Forte, served as “Mother of the Church” at New Mt. Zion Baptist Church for many years and had been a member for 50 years at the time of her death in November 1995.

After finishing high school, I was ready for college. I had looked forward to the college years just after entering high school. When I graduated from Spencer High School and ready for college, I had a series of talks and numerous conversations with a neighbor and good friend – Laron Butts – whose relentless talks never let up in trying to convince me to attend Alabama State University. Nonetheless, I had not made up my mind yet on which college I wanted to attend and continued in my efforts to look over brochures and applications from other colleges. However, that didn’t matter to Laron, and it didn’t stop him in his effort to convince me that I should attend college in Montgomery, Alabama. He was already enrolled there and had been there for about two years.

I finally made my choice. I decided to attend Alabama State University. My friend Laron was happy about my decision.

My mom and I took the trip to Montgomery, Alabama together (my father Benjamin Pickens died when I was in about third grade), a distance away from Columbus, Georgia where we lived. I enrolled at the university and lived in the campus Dormitory. And during the time we were there, Laron and I were a good support system for each other. Some of my most memorable and impressionable days were spent in Montgomery, Alabama.

Being there, gave me the opportunity to attend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s church. Many of the college students would make it their business to attend Dexter Avenue Baptist Church on Sunday. It gave us a chance to see upward mobility African Americans in action, to study them and their mannerisms because we thought they were good role models for us – young impressionable college students. There were times we would get a glimpse of Dr. King on campus. What a priceless historical treasure to have been in Montgomery, Alabama where the Civil Rights Movement stirred the conscience of America and had a direct effect on cities across this nation.

Watching the Dedication Ceremony on various television stations memorializing Dr. King’s life and legacy at the National Mall, Sunday, October 16,  where the 30-foot granite sculpture of Dr. King stood, I thought about those days at Alabama State University, and living in Montgomery, Alabama.

In hindsight, I now know that it was the right place for me to be. It was a good feeling to be there where the Civil Rights Movement had fired up the country and woke up the “sleeping giant” in the aftermath of the 1955 marches in Montgomery, Alabama, against the city’s transportation system, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a protest triggered by Rosa Parks, a Black woman, who refused to give up her seat on a city bus to a white man. Park was arrested.

I’m truly grateful of my having been there. It was an inspirational and memorable time in history and in my life; and I’ll never forget as with hundreds of thousands of others. It was astonishingly historical and now has its place in the annals of history. And it will certainly inspire generations to come.

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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