Women revisit Leesburg Stockade, 50 years later

Women revisit Leesburg Stockade, 50 years later
Shirley Green Reese
Shirley Green Reese
Dr. Carol Barner-Seay
Dr. Carol Barner-Seay

LEESBURG, GA (WALB) - For the first time in half a century, two women who fought for equality visit the place that was their biggest speed bump.  That place is the Leesburg Stockade.

The young teens from around  south Georgia were jailed there in the summer of 1963. As Black History Month gets underway they're sharing their story on what they went through.

It was emotional being around that stockade as they looked through those bars from the outside. Their story shows their perseverance for equality.

Dr. Shirley Green-Reese is back at the Leesburg Stockade. "This is heart breaking. It's disturbing. It really saddened me to see this building today."

Her hands on the bars and her feet on the ground. "It's the first time I've ever put my feet on this ground since '63," said Dr. Green-Reese.

She was a part of a group marching to segregate the Martin Theater in Americus. They were peaceful but persistent. "All of a sudden, here come policemen," said Green-Reese.

The group was thrown in a transfer truck and transported from jail to jail in small south Georgia towns. Eventually landing here in Leesburg. "We was innocent. We did not commit any major crimes. We did not do anything but march for equality for everyone," said Green-Reese.

For two months, the girls suffered horrendous and hazardous living conditions.

"This is the kind of stuff that was all around the windows. It was on the floor, inside the stockade," said Green-Reese.

They ate four hamburgers a day and had no water. Death even crossed their mind. "I didn't think we was going to get out because two months, day after day, nobody, it appeared that people had forgotten us," said Dr. Green Reese.

"We'll probably never get out. Does anyone know where we are? And we learned that parents didn't know where we were," said Dr. Carol Barner-Seay.

Dr. Carol Barner-Seay was in jail at the same time, and time still doesn't heal the anguish. "Since I've been out, I've shed many tears and as I tell the story, I still shed tears," said Barner-Seay.

Hope and unity saw them through that summer and the group was released to their parents. Their boldness and courage sparked change in South Georgia, and they say work is still being done.

"We're still making steps. Sometimes it seems like it's just baby steps but thank god we are still stepping," said Barner-Seay.

Both Dr. Green-Reese and Barner-Seay hope their story shows younger people that freedom isn't free.

They also say their fight for equality continues.

Copyright 2016 WALB.  All rights reserved.