Civil Rights Movement - Key Stevens

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by Stevensdan
Last updated 6 years ago

Social Studies
African-American History

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Civil Rights Movement - Key Stevens

The Civil Rights Movement

Through the Eyes of Kay Stevens

Did you notice any changes after the Civil Rights Act?Even after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, not much seemed to change. Restuarants still closed their doors to colored people because there was no real enforcement of the new law. Kay expressed sarrowly, "The law for change was there but sadly no one implemented it for a while after."

During the civil rights movment, life in South Dakota carried along as usual. Protests and and boycotts were not a familiar part of life for the Stevens family, at least not until they made the move to New Orleans, Louisiana for work in 1964. Bill Stevens, Kay's husband and my grandfather, was a member of Boeing's space program which required traveling often. "Moving to the South was the shock. We didn't really see many colored people in South Dakota and in New Orleans they were everywhere" exclaimed Kay.

Oral History Report By Danielle Stevens

What was life like during the Civil Rights Movement?In Louisiana, segregation was very prominant at the time. According to Kay, "They still had segregated drinking fountains, bathrooms, stores, restaurants, and so on". Not only were public places segregated, but people had prejudice opinions of colored people as well. It was unheard of at the time for a white person to date a black person. Kay expressed, "There was no logical reason for it, that's just the way it was. Coming from a home without segregation, I never truly understood it myself."

Though the experiences of my grandmother, Kay Stevens, I feel that I have a more personal understanding of life during the civil rights movment. While Kay was not actively involved in the movement, she believed in the need for change. Hearing about her experience has provided me with a new insight into the everyday life of an individual living during this time period.

"Everything was so different then."

How did people act during the Civil Rights Movement?On October 3, 1964, the Stevens' house hold was hit by a category four hurricane named Hilda. The hurricane caused flooding within the entire city of New Orleans and lead to the death of many. Kay stated with a look of frustration, "People made it seem as if the death of colored people didn't even count".

"Their lives matter too."

Kay had neighbors who were very opinionated about colored people. She announced, "Our neighbors were associated with the KKK, but of course did not talk much about this."


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