Thursday, September 3, 2009

Theresa Burroughs

theresa burroughs is a fascinating individual. i met her in 2004 as a student videographer for the center for public television. andy grace was making a short doc about her in the spirit of errol morris' "first person" series. she runs the safe house black history museum in greensboro, alabama. the safe house is dedicated to alabama black history, specifically the civil rights movement, of which, theresa was a fierce participant.

(photo taken by theresa burroughs of dr. king arriving in greensboro)

the safe house is a place where martin luther king jr. rested one night after speaking in greensboro. the klan knew he'd be there, so they rode around town in pickup trucks wearing hood and cloak. it was night time and the klan members had the cab lights on in the trucks so everyone could see the shotguns they carried. she said it was pretty intimidating, but "the night was black and so were we." the black citizens of greensboro had hidden in the shadows and brush surrounding the house and weren't going to let anything happen to dr. king. obviously, they prevailed that night or the museum wouldn't be called the safe house, but to hear the details you should take a short trip down to greensboro and let her tell the story. her stories are alluring and she's about as charismatic as people come. it's one thing to be in an historical place, but it's an entirely different thing to have a living part of that history take you back into those moments in time. theresa started organizing for the movement at 17, was arrested a total of 6 times, and was one of the first across edmund pettus bridge in selma, which means, she was one of the first to be beaten down by alabama state troopers. she has an abundance of stories attached to her badges of honor. she'd love for you to come visit and share - that's why the safe house museum is open. to give you a preview, here's a recording by story corps of theresa telling her daughter about registering to vote.

and here is the location of the safe house:

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