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Activist still haunted by civil rights arrest

Lulu Westbrooks Griffin was 12 years old when she went to jail in 1963 for marching in a civil rights rally in Americus, Ga. 

The experience still haunts her.

"This is the story of young people who risked their lives to be free," Westbrooks Griffin told students at Hilbert College today. "We wanted to stand up and cut down those walls of hatred and segregation." 

For 45 days in the hot southern summer, Westbrooks Griffin and 31 other girls were held in an abandoned Civil War-era stockade. They were given little water, were fed meals of barely cooked hamburger and left to sleep on the floor.  

Decades later, Westbrooks Griffin began to piece together the details of what happened. The little-told Civil Rights story was featured in the documentary "Lulu and the Girls of Americus, Georgia, 1963."

Westbrooks Griffin, now a Wayland resident, told her story at Hilbert College this afternoon.

The experience, she said, made her a stronger person. 

"We came a long ways, a lot of things happened, but if Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was alive today, he may ask the question, 'Where did we go wrong?' " said Westbrooks Griffin. "Because it seems like there's so much violence between young people now a days, and I don't understand that myself when people have given their lives -- not only what we accomplished through the civil rights movement -- but those that went to war to make sure that we would be safe here in this world."

See a video of Westbrooks Griffin's remarks:

-- Denise Jewell Gee

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