But what about Dave Dennis and Mildred Bell Johnson? Do their names resonate within us? Dennis was one of the original freedom fighters and was instrumental in the organization of the 1964 Freedom Summer. Johnson was responsible for the first Girl Scout troop for black girls in Alabama. She also happens to be General Colin Powell’s mother-in-law. Bayard Rustin (left), Dr. King’s advisor, led the organization of the March on Washington. He also championed intersectionality in the movement by not closeting his homosexuality. Ella Baker (below) helped form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) after serving as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) director. Vivian Malone-Jones enrolled in the University of Alabama in 1963, defying segregationist Alabama Gov. George C. Wallace and continued her activism in the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department.
These and hundreds of others are legacies that we must remember and cherish because their tireless efforts were consequential in the development of such a powerful social revolution. Their work and sacrifices were the adrenaline pumping through Dr. King’s veins. In our honoring of Dr. King and Pres. Obama on this day, we also offer gratitude and thanks to those names and lives that don’t have statues on the National Mall. It is the first step in expanding our consciousness.