Gary Yerkey ’66 reflects on how historic march led to Voting Rights Act of 1965
“The first time I made ‘good trouble’”, a reflective piece written by Gary Yerkey ’66 of Washington, D.C., was published today, Aug. 2, in The Christian Science Monitor.
The essay is related to Yerkey’s participation, along with other Ripon students and the Rev. Herman Jerome “Jerry” Thompson, then the College chaplain, in the historic Selma-to-Montgomery march for civil rights in March 1965.
Friday, Aug. 6, marks the anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The act forbade “discriminatory voter registration policies and practices that had disenfranchised millions of Black Americans. It is widely thought that the president and Congress would not have acted so quickly, if at all, had it not been for Selma,” Yerkey writes.
Yerkey describes his motivation for joining the Ripon College contingent and what his experience still means to him and the world more than 50 years later.
John Lewis, a leader of the movement, once told Yerkey that, “in his opinion, the Selma-to-Montgomery march had a profound impact on America’s psyche, and that white students from the North had played a crucial role in the success of the march.
“Throughout his life, Mr. Lewis had urged anyone who would listen to make ‘good trouble, necessary trouble’ — nonviolent trouble — in the fight for justice.
“Now, more than 50 years later, I am at a loss to satisfactorily explain what drew me to Mr. Thompson’s office that day in early March 1965, and from there to Selma. It certainly had something to do with his inspiring passion for justice and for lifting up others. It was also the cause being pursued. … In Selma I had learned for the first time a real-life lesson in the importance of sometimes making ‘good trouble, necessary trouble.’”
Yerkey majored in philosophy at Ripon. Among many career roles, he served as The Christian Science Monitor’s Brussels-based correspondent from 1975 to 1987.
(Photo: Gary Yerkey ’66 in Selma, Alabama)
Mica Rivera ’21 earns prestigious research fellowship from National Science Foundation
Mica Rivera ’21 of River Falls, Wisconsin, has received a prestigious award from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. The highly competitive award, […]
Jessie Lillis ’13 returns to Ripon for summer residency, presentation of Shakespeare plays
When a series of free performances of plays by William Shakespeare is presented in the Ripon/Green Lake area this summer, Jessie Lillis ’13 will be […]
New book by Andrew Limouris ’94 focuses on building a resilient company culture
Culture through Crisis, by Andrew Limouris ’94, recently was released with Forbes Books, the exclusive business book publishing imprint of Forbes. Limouris is the founder, […]
New Ripon College graduates urged to seek joy in life and in careers
The Ripon College Class of 2023 celebrated the 157th Commencement ceremony at Ripon College Sunday afternoon. The theme was “Strategic Thinkers who Ignite Change.” A […]