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In the summer of 1963, 15 young civil rights activists (ages 12 to 15) were illegally imprisoned for two months.

They were part of a group of 200 people peacefully protesting segregation when they were hauled off to jail in Dawson, Georgia. The following day, they were shuttled to an abandoned, one-room stockade in Leesburg, Georgia - all without their parents' knowledge. There, they were held against their will for two months, without bedding, fresh clothes, sanitary products, adequate food, or working plumbing.

They were finally released after photographs of their plight surfaced, but their story quickly faded into obscurity. Now, 50 years later, these women are breaking their silence to bring awareness to the small, powerful actions of peace that have helped shape this country.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is awarded yearly to individuals or groups who have made "especially meritorious contributions to the... national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." The Leesburg Stockade Girls sacrificed two months of their young lives by taking a stand all those years ago. Their contributions to the civil rights movement cannot go unnoticed!

Sign the petition urging President Trump to award this medal to the nine remaining women of the Leesburg Stockade, and to posthumously award it to the six that have passed away.

Sign Here

Dear President Trump,

We are writing to ask you to consider the following 15 women of the Leesburg Stockade for the 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom nomination:

Diane Dorsey-Bowens, Melinda Jones-Williams, Mae Smith-Davis, Verna Hollis, Lulu Westbrooks-Griffin, Emmarene Kaigler-Streeter, Dr. Carol Barner-Seay, Dr. Shirley Green-Reese, Laura Ruff-Saunders, Billie Jo Thorton-Allen, Sandra Russell-Mansfield, Annie Lou Ragans-Laster, Gloria Westbrooks-Breedlove, and Pearl Brown.

In April of 2016, Congressman Sanford Bishop, Congressman John Lewis, and Congressman Hank Johnson, all of Georgia, also wrote you with the same request. We believe in the power of the people to enact change.

The egregious treatment these 15 girls suffered during the summer of 1963 was a direct result of their peaceful protest against segregation. At the tender ages of 12-15, these girls were youthful, impressionable, and passionate about equal rights. They sacrificed two months of their lives in pursuit of these rights, and the physical and emotional ramifications of the events that transpired have stayed with them their whole lives.

They were illegally imprisoned in the abandoned stockade in Leesburg for two months, without proper nutrition, clean water, working plumbing, sanitary products, or bedding. Their parents were unaware of their whereabouts. They were finally released, quietly and without fanfare, after a photographer for the Student Nonviolent Coordination Committee, Danny Lyon, published photos of the girls' situation. The authorities responsible for their imprisonment were never punished.

Now they are breaking their silence about Leesburg in order to shine a light on the influential actions of young people during the civil rights movement. Their sacrifices have remained unacknowledged for too long.

Only 9 of the 15 women are alive today, but we believe all 15 women deserve this honor. It is our hope that you, too, see the bravery and nobility of these women, and recognize their nonviolent methods of protest at such a volatile point in our nation's history with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

We believe that awarding these women this medal will help further the equality movement to address the problems that unfortunately still exist in our nation today. Thank you for your consideration of our request.


Petition Signatures

Apr 18, 2018 (Name not displayed)
Apr 18, 2018 Judith Busse
Apr 17, 2018 Vick Swain
Apr 16, 2018 Robert New
Apr 14, 2018 Diana Asberry-Whitt Unfortunately, with an EXTREMELY racist president in office, these black women don't have a snowball's chance in hades of a 2016 Presidential Medal of Freedom nomination. How sad.
Apr 12, 2018 Alicia Orr
Apr 12, 2018 (Name not displayed)
Apr 11, 2018 Marilena Zlate
Apr 11, 2018 Pamela Mosher
Apr 10, 2018 Lynne Minore
Apr 7, 2018 Lisa vasta
Apr 5, 2018 Richard Bosboom
Apr 5, 2018 Kimberley Clack
Apr 2, 2018 David Pascoe
Mar 30, 2018 virginia green
Mar 28, 2018 Lee Stapleton
Mar 28, 2018 Carolyn Crawford
Mar 28, 2018 Barbara Tomlinson This is shocking. These heroic young women MUST be recognized!!!
Mar 28, 2018 Marie Alabiso
Mar 27, 2018 Susan Hodgson
Mar 26, 2018 Connie Tate
Mar 22, 2018 (Name not displayed)
Mar 21, 2018 Lesley Adamson Women should be able to protest without being punished.
Mar 19, 2018 tiziano testi
Mar 18, 2018 (Name not displayed)
Mar 18, 2018 Didi G BAILEY
Mar 16, 2018 Anthony Charles
Mar 16, 2018 Michael Collier
Mar 14, 2018 Casey Phillips
Mar 12, 2018 Kristi Weber
Mar 10, 2018 Toni Peters
Mar 10, 2018 mary stallard
Mar 8, 2018 Tina Beier
Mar 6, 2018 Molly Simpson
Mar 6, 2018 (Name not displayed)
Mar 4, 2018 Jillana Laufer
Mar 4, 2018 Chris Sterry
Mar 4, 2018 Karen Browning
Mar 3, 2018 Natalie Alexander
Mar 2, 2018 Brenda Choi
Mar 1, 2018 Rebekah Kreyling
Mar 1, 2018 Traci Ball
Feb 28, 2018 April Sunshine Kinsella
Feb 28, 2018 John Dalla
Feb 28, 2018 Laura Scherry
Feb 26, 2018 renay lawrence
Feb 26, 2018 Samantha Cooch
Feb 26, 2018 Jane Davidson
Feb 24, 2018 Jessica Haag

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