I was introduced to the Civil Rights Movement as a little girl. Some memories of the time are vivid: the uncertainty that was palpable one morning as my parents, Thomas and Bertha Ross, prepared to go into voting booths for the first time; the pride and trepidation of my father when he was elected one of the first Black local Democratic Party precinct officers; the night Daddy came home telling us he drove through our town into another one because he was certain someone followed him as he left a civil rights meeting; the energy, excitement, and hope in the meetings at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Ridgeville or "the old school" in St. George, South Carolina; the charisma and enthusiasm with which Mrs. Victoria DeLee—"our" Civil Rights leader—participated in, and often led, the meetings. My parents, Mrs. DeLee, and other adult participants in civil rights activities across rural Dorchester County helped me understand that something important was happening. At the same time, by their examples, they taught me the meaning of what I now call living their faith. In addition to being Civil Rights Movement workers, they all were active church members and concerned community participants.
Although other men like my father were prominent in civil rights activities of our area, it was women who sustained the Dorchester County movement in significant ways. Mrs. Victoria DeLee led the movement, and neighbors and friends like Mrs. Geneva Tracy, Mrs. Cora Lee DeLee, my mother, and others supported her. I am grateful to these women and men in Dorchester County, South Carolina, and those like them across the South and the country, who tried to help our nation live up to its creeds. Seeing their work in my own community helped prompt my interest in religious ethics.