Ashland woman remembers lobbying for civil rights in the 1960s

Ashland, Ore. — For Bess Hamers the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 takes her on a trip down memory lane.

The 97-year-old Ashland woman has been a political activist her entire life. She said the memories are ones she will always carry with her. Especially the day she marched alongside Martin Luther King in 1963.

“Everybody was so cheerful. Everybody was singing. It was a great day, and far more surprising and meaningful than we expected originally,” Hamers said.

Their actions on that day brought results. Just one year later, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 ending legal discrimination.

“Something I felt was worthy of this country and made a great difference in our lives,” said Hamers.

But Hamers said the dream was just one of many she would like to see come true.

“I think we still have a ways to go. Women have to speak out still for equal pay,” she said.

And now, 50 years after that historic day, Hamers still works for world peace in her own way.

“I would like to see it achieved before I conk out before I leave this life. But when I get up there I’m going to be looking down to see, so you guys better keep marching,” she said.

Because Hamers knows a trip down memory lane is not all it takes to achieve change.

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