The Civil Rights Summit and a Family Story?

On April 8-10, 2014, the LBJ Presidential Library on the University of Texas campus hosted a Civil Rights Summit to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Unable to attend, but living right here, I watched as much of the live stream coverage as I could. President Obama, and three of our four living former presidents (all but George H. W. Bush) were speakers at the summit.

My very favorite panel/speaker was the interview with former President Jimmy Carter. The emotional story behind the Camp David accord alone is worth watching the nearly hour-long interview. I have such respect for President Carter’s continuing work after his “retirement.” He is sharp as a tack and working relentlessly for women world wide as well as his many other projects. (A little music by Graham Nash precedes the interview.)

I was also intrigued by the panel “Heroes of the Civil Rights Movement” – with Julian Bond, Andrew Young, and Representative John Lewis. Missing from the panel, however, were any female heroes of the Civil Rights Movement. Well – they did bring it up and gave a nice pat response about how great so many women were …. but, you know, it seems that some of the story is missing. I did enjoy the discussion and insights and stories told and would encourage you to watch their panel. I think you can find pretty much everything from the summit on youtube.

Our local PBS affiliate is airing some programs they put together to coincide with the summit and the anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. I watched one the evening of April 24th and was pleasantly surprised that the local production did not give short shrift to the women in Austin who played significant roles in the Civil Rights movement here. I have two new heroines: Bertha Means and Ada Anderson. Coincidentally, while I was watching their stories on PBS, Bertha Means, now age 94, was being honored by iACT (Interfaith Action of Central Texas) as a community leader who helped shape Austin. You can watch “Austin Revealed: Civil Rights Stories” here. I hope you will!

After watching three days of speakers and panelists talking about the civil rights movement, I began to wonder what stories I might find in my own family. I sent out an email request to the various branches of my family tree hoping I would get something in return. I got one response – from Dolores Webber McLean:

“My father, Fred M. Webber, marched in the 1963 March on Washington.”


I have written about Fred M. Webber before – here, here, and here. He was my Grandmother Abbie’s brother and a minister – first as a Baptist and later as a Presbyterian. I never really knew my great uncle Fred, but I know we met at least once.

Webber.Fred and Kathy

I followed up with a series of questions to cousin Dee. Unfortunately, she couldn’t tell me much more as she wasn’t living at home at the time. Dee suggested I ask her younger sister.

Let’s just say this got me started digging for more. And I’m not finished. Stay tuned for the rest of the story – hopefully coming soon.

If you would like to read more about Fred M. Webber, click the Fred Myron Webber tag/link at the bottom of this post.

3 thoughts on “The Civil Rights Summit and a Family Story?

  1. My mother, your Aunt Ersel, liked to say (in Fred’s company) that when Fred went from being a Baptist to being a Presbyterian that he “fell from grace,” to which Fred would respond, “No, I saw the light.”

  2. I linked this to my Facebook page and tagged the appropriate cousins. There was some discussion of the photo of Great Uncle Fred and me. I decided to post the comments here so they would be attached to my blog and not lost forever somewhere on Facebook:
    Sue: I love seeing this picture of you and Fred. And the picture on the wall of Dorinda and the other picture, mostly out of sight, of Wilda.
    Kathy: Like being back in the house on H Street…
    Bea: Love Daddy’s bow tie!
    Yvonne: All of the above and the cage with “Pretty Bird” !!!
    Yvonne: Kathy, was this 1954?
    Kathy: I have a few other pictures taken that day and none are dated. Must be early 1954. Mid Oct. birthday + still wearing hat and sweater.
    Yvonne: Of course, in Iowa you might need that hat and sweater in May! I too was figuring from your birthday.
    Kathy: True! Especially this year! I’m guessing I was maybe 5 months old?
    Yvonne: And I was just turning 11 and was always excited about relatives coming from out of town.
    Wilda: This is off topic, but I love this photo for more reasons than one (or two). I see Dorinda Rupe as a child (my photo got cut off) but also the bird. I had forgotten about the bird. Was it Zam’s or Aunt Lottie’s? I sort of think it came at the same time as Pedro, and Pedro was, I believe, Aunt Lottie’s dog. I’m trying to remember the name of the canary. I have a name in my head for it, but am not confident I’m right.
    Yvonne: I love it for many reasons, too, Wilda. Read through the preceding messages. I think the bird was Grammy’s and that she called it “Pretty Bird.”
    Wilda: I think you are right – “Pretty Bird.”

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