56 years later: Stockade Girls continue telling their story

56 years later: Stockade Girls continue telling their story

LEESBURG, GA (WALB)- In the summer of 1963, a young group of girls were arrested during a march in Americus.

Although the 15 girls didn’t know it at the time, they would go down in history — known now as “The Leesburg Stockade Girls.”

WALB went to that stockade where they were held 56 years ago.

Four walls and a few windows — that’s all Dr. Shirley Green Reese, one of the girls placed in the stockade, knew for two months.

Now, she sits before it in awe.

I never talked about this story until 2015. To put us in something that is not fit for even dogs or cats, you wouldn’t put your dog in this,”
Reese said.

It was 1963. Protests and marches for civil rights swarmed the south.

The voice of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, inspired Reese and 14 other girls to march to segregated theater in Americus.

That was motivation for me. When I heard him on the radio and on the TV, I said ‘Ooh, I’ve got to go.’ So that’s why I slipped away from home but I guess that’s what you get for slipping away from home without permission but that was okay,” 
Reese said.

The stockade is where they would end up — some in fear of never escaping.

“We were just here, this is it, just here, this is all we had. It was filthy. Then we had some old blankets when we first came in here, that were scattered everywhere with blood stains on it. This here was all dirt glass, roaches, and everything was on the floor,”
Reese recalled.

Reese found a piece of hope when a photographer came by to see them.

“I said’ well take my picture,' and that’s when I start smiling and that’s why people were so weary about why are we smiling in jail,” she said.

Dr. Shirley Green Reese. (Source: WALB)
Dr. Shirley Green Reese. (Source: WALB)

It was in a photo, Reese pointed out, that would place the Stockade Girls in history.

“We are so happy to know that this story is on the move. We gave up our little lives protesting for justice in a deplorable situation,"
Reese said.

It’s something Reese wants the world to know helped shaped the south.

“I feel like what you see today, I feel like we did not make this different but we did a fraction of it and if you’ve got a fraction of it that makes a difference,”
Reese said.

Documentaries and movies about the Stockade Girls’ story are in the works.

Reese said it’s important for everyone to know what happened back then, especially the people living in this community, surrounded by the progress made in the past 53 years.

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