50 Anniversary of Civil Rights Movement

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An Introduction to Black History

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Judith Wilson

Editor's Note: With this online package and several pieces you may have noticed in recent issues of our magazine, ESSENCE is marking the 50th anniversary of 1963, a watershed year in the civil rights movement. As we reflect on that era and its lessons, ESSENCE.com is partnering with StoryCorps, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to record and preserve the personal histories of diverse Americans — including those Black Americans who were witness to the times and to our struggle for equality. Over the next few weeks, we'll be sharing snippets of these touching, inspiring, sometimes infuriating stories from StoryCorps' archives. 

Growing up, Judith Wilson was always well aware of the racial difference between she and her predominantly White classmates, but she never really knew much about her roots as a Black American. 

"It was true, I didn't know anything about African American history," Wilson recalls.

It wasn't until Wilson's brother gave her an informal history lesson by getting her to readThe Autobiography of Malcolm X and a collection of Amiri Baraka poems that her interest in African American history was sparked.

In the audio clip below, recorded by StoryCorps in Oakland, CA, Wilson tells her husband, Donald Kaufman, about how a raging argument over "good hair" and a simple sit-down with her brother changed her life forever.

Judith Wilson on StoryCorps:

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