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Civil rights activist is speaker at community celebration

NIAGARA FALLS –Lulu Westbrook-Griffin was an adolescent 50 years ago when she and a group of friends participated in a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee protest in an attempt to desegregate a local theater in Americus, Georgia.

But after protesting a short time on July 19, 1963, the young Westbrook was arrested by police, clubbed over the head and thrown into a car with other young protesters.

Westbrook-Griffin will speak about her experiences at 6 p.m. Jan. 14 in the Performing Arts Center at Niagara Falls High School, 4455 Porter Road at the annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Celebration. The event is free and open to the public.

In 1963 the bruised and bloodied young girls were thrown into an old Civil War prison and held for 45 days. They were denied medical treatment, forced to sleep on the floor and to endure other inhumane living conditions as well as being taunted by racial slurs. A young photographer, Danny Lyon, documented the plight of these girls and they were released after the photos made their way into the hands of the attorney general.

Lyon would go on to become a widely known civil rights photographer.

Westbrook-Griffin will be welcomed by sponsors from the Niagara Falls City School District, the National Federation for Just Communities of WNY, Niagara Falls Housing Authority, WGRZ-TV, Niagara Falls Police, Niagara County Legislator Owen Steed, Family and Childrens Services of Niagara, the Niagara Falls Gazette, Sheraton at the Falls, Rainforest Cafe and Leadership Niagara.

Honorary event chairwoman will be Claudine Ewing of WGRZ-TV. Honorees are the late Robert Anderson Jr. Joseph Lowery and NFHS student Danielle Lia.