LBL talkback 2

Thanks to the generosity of the Van Wezel Foundation Friends and donors, the Foundation partnered with the Van Wezel’s Education department to host a Zoom live talkback with author Lynda Blackmon Lowery, the youngest participant in the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. A musical adaptation of Lowery’s memoir, Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom, was streamed as one of our popular Schooltime Performances to all high school classes in Sarasota and Manatee Counties.

Dozens of community members participated in the talkback and had the opportunity to hear Lowery’s emotional first-hand account of the Civil Rights movement and to ask questions.

“Martin Luther King’s voice was like a warm blanket on a cold night,” Lowery said as she reflected on King’s profound influence on her life and her activism. Listening to King, she said, inspired her to keep her vow to change things after her mother died when doctors refused to give her a life-saving blood transfusion because they only had “white blood” available.

“Hearing Rev. King speak,” Lowery said, “empowered me and made me want to jump out of my seat in church.” King’s mantra, “steady loving confrontation,” gave Lowery to courage to fight even when she was jailed repeatedly, and beaten and terrified on Bloody Sunday. But marching to Montgomery gave her the opportunity to see a different kind of white person, one who sided with the marchers.

Lowery is now a retired mental health case manager and travels frequently on book tours. She is a founding member and board president of ACE Information Referral, an organization that provides services to people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. She will appear on BET’s Boiling Point on March 7th at 8:00 PM EST.

The Van Wezel Foundation and Hall hope to bring more experiences like this to our community. To read more about other virtual offerings available to students, families and educators, please visit

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