Still Doing Battle For Civil Rights: Dee McKinley On The Legacy Of John Lewis

Aug 13, 2020

Dee McKinley, in Gospel Flight mode, which she credits with keeping her energized and in tune.
Credit Andy Laverghetta

Representative John Lewis passed away last month at the age of eighty. Lewis was known for his work as a Civil Rights activist in the 1960's, and continued to champion issues of racial justice until the end of his life.

Delois "Dee" McKinley, the host of 89.1 WBOI's Gospel Flight, was fifteen years old when she embarked on her own mission, volunteering for the Voters League in her home town of Bessemer, Alabama.

By March of 1963 she joined the ranks of students who were participating in demonstrations for Civil Rights in neighboring Alabama cities, following the messages and examples of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., James Bevel and other leaders of that day.

This momentum would lead McKinley to meet and march with the young and determined activist John Lewis, and she continued to follow his example when she came to Fort Wayne in 1969.

For an in-depth look at this remarkable journey, and the impact it would have on the dedicated change-maker as well as the community she served, WBOI'S Julia Meek invited Dee into the studio to discuss the path of social justice she set out on after learning it under, as she calls it, "the tutelage of John Lewis." 

Left to right: Bloody Sunday protesters, the "two minute warning," Lewis being attacked by police, his historic speech.
Credit Wikicommons

This conversation all begins with McKinley's recollections of the historic demonstrations that began in 1963, leading up to the infamous Selma to Montgomery March in 1965, known as Bloody Sunday.

As a final tribute to the iconic Representative, Meek then asked Dee to specifically reflect on the depth of his character that sparked her own passion and convinced her to pick up that torch, his deep regard for the ACLU and the commitment she shared with him to motivate everyone to exercise their right to vote.