Gordon State Commemorates 50th Anniversary of 1964 Civil Rights Act


The highlight of Gordon State College's commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 came when the featured speaker, the Rev. Dr. Gloria W. Wright, invited Kay Smith to join her on stage.

Smith, now Kay Pedrotti, was one of two women interviewed by an Associated Press reporter at a civil rights rally in Albany, Georgia, in 1962.

The other was Wright.

Wright told the reporter that she would give up her life for freedom. Smith said that the marches were "useless" and "just for publicity."

That was in 1962.

In 1997, Pedrotti sought out Wright to apologize to her. Early in their meeting, they went to eat and both ordered their favorite pieces of chicken, a leg and a breast. Shortly after taking their order, the waitress returned to their table. The cook had sent her back to deliver a message, one that she didn't want to say to the "two nice ladies."

But she did her job, Pedrotti said.

With a look of distress on her face, the young waitress said, "You can't mix dark and light."

The irony struck both Pedrotti and Wright as a positive sign, and they've been close friends ever since.

The two-hour plus program began with a historical overview of civil rights legislation by Gordon associate professor of music, James Wallace, who also served as the program's master of ceremonies. He was followed by a panel composed of Barnesville Mayor Peter Banks, Medora Pelt, John Vaughn and Dorothy Worthy. Wallace then invited three Gordon students, Ivannah Campbell, Andrew Price and Jacob Tucker to reflect on the meaning of the long struggle for civil rights.

Several of the speakers urged the younger members of the audience to not take their civil rights for granted and to remember that their liberties were hard won by people who suffered and died for them.