Wilson: We Tried...To Keep Moving Forward"

7:51 PM, Jun 30, 2013   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Although Columbia is rarely mentioned in pivotal Civil Rights events, many people here experienced the trials and tribulations of securing their "unalienable rights."

"We tried all the time to keep moving forward," Donella Wilson said.

Wilson, her husband, John, and their four children lived in Waverly, a black community near downtown Columbia.

And understood the way of the world.

"We tried as a race to teach our children not to get out there and get in trouble or get killed," Wilson said. "We swallowed a lot, had indigestion."

"They did a very good job of shielding us. We saw things and we knew things, but we were taught that you would see these things and know about these things," Wilson's daughter Shirley Wilson-Clinton said.

Wilson didn't walk the picket lines and she was never sprayed with water hoses.

But she was a fighter for the right to vote.

"We wanted it long before they gave it to us," Wilson said.

This is Donella and her late husband standing in line to cast a ballot in 1948.

"We were so glad to vote. We had the power in our hands to vote," Wilson said.

And she passed on that love of democracy to her daughters, Shirley and Minnie.

But voting wasn't that easy back in the 40s and 50s.

"She said, 'You have to read this part of The Constitution.' I said, 'Really,'" Wilson-Clinton said. 

"We see now that when they found out we could read, write and vote now they're trying to block that by striking down the 4th section of the Voting Rights Act," Minnie Wilson-Bivins said.

Although Donella didn't march on Washington, she said her biggest contribution to the civil rights movement was participation during elections.

"Being there to vote every time," Wilson said.

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