Gwendolyn Mackel Rice was born the fourth of five children in Natchez, Mississippi, to parents who were active in the 1940s and 1950s civil rights movement. Although her childhood was comfortable and protected, she remembers racial slurs, separate restrooms and drinking fountains, and not being able to try on clothes in department stores. In 1956, just before Ms. Rice's senior year in high school, her family moved to Chicago after being "run out of Natchez, Mississippi by the Citizen's Counsel." Ms. Rice attended Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C., where her instructors were "fiery," "dynamic," and influential in expanding her worldview. She was present when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke at Bennett, and actively participated in the demonstrations at Woolworth's and the Carolina Theater in Greensboro, N.C. After graduating, she began a career as a social worker and has worked in public welfare, community-based programs for the elderly and youth, especially black males, and college preparatory programs for underserved youth. In the interim, she earned the Master's in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago after which she served as a senior program officer for a local foundation and later, as a not-for-profit consultant for organizations in underserved communities. She is currently at Developing Communities Project, a faith-based community organizing institution that addresses youth violence and advocates for transportation and environmental equity.
Listen to Interview:
- Date Interviewed: Friday, 10 June 2011
- Interviewer: Dr. Dena Scher
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Marygrove Archives ARC-SP 0100 File #27
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Scher, D. (Interviewer) & Rice, G. M. (Interviewee). (2011). Gwendolyn Mackel Rice: Civil Rights Movement [Interview transcript]. Retrieved from the Novak Archive at Marygrove College: http://detroitjourneys.marygrove.edu