As we begin to wind down this Passover 2023, our thoughts turn from the struggle for freedom in the Biblical story of Exodus to more recent struggles for freedom in our own land.
Earl Hartman is a community member and former operator of Caffee Mediterranneum at the Food Oasis on campus. Earl’s grandfather was Joseph Gelders, a 20th century physicist who became a civil rights activist and who survived a brutal beating by the KKK in Alabama for his civil rights work. Gelders was not deterred.
“My mother’s father is the fabled hero in the family,” explains Earl. “He stood up and fought the good fight and nearly paid for it with his life.”
Pictured above, Joseph Gelders gives a speech at Highlander Folk School (now the Highlander Research and Education Center) around 1935. Highlander was a social justice leadership training center in Tennessee where civil rights activists Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., Ralph Abernathy, John Lewis and others received key training in social change and the struggle for freedom.
From his grandfather’s legacy, Earl learned, “If you see a situation that needs to be remedied, you have to find a way to do it.”