By Elmetra Patterson
Ninety Four year old Betsy Ann Eichelberger, the oldest member of the
Winston County Branch NAACP, attended the branch’s 33rd Annual
Freedom Fund Banquet and was honored with an interview by Mark
McMillan, Director of the Economic Development & Community
Partnerships, of the Medgar Evers College, City University of New
York, which is located in Brooklyn, NY.
The college is collecting data for the celebration of Medgar Evers
life on the 50th anniversary of his death to be held at the college
June 2013. Medgar Evers’ daughter Reena Evers-Everett was the
keynote speaker for the banquet.
Mrs. Eichelberger shared that she was shaken by the death of Medgar
Evers when he was assassinated in June of 1963. This was a turbulent
time in the life of African Americans. However, this act of violence
and many activities that followed helped to bring about the passing
of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 contained provisions to help black
voters to register but was mostly ineffective until the Voting Rights
Act of 1965 was passed. The Voters Rights Act enabled millions of
previously disfranchised African Americans in the South to vote. Mrs.
Eichelberger became #211 to register to vote in Winston County,
according to the Winston County Voters League records. Mrs.
Eichelberger shared a story of discrimination against her while
working in the parts department on the production line at Spartus
Clock Factory. Her firing was proven unjust. She was rehired and
later retired from Spartus.
In attendance with Mrs. Eichelberger were five generations of her
family (including her): daughters, Elmetra Patterson, Janice Hopkins
(Tommy); son, Clifford Eichelberger (Nancy); grandchildren, Donna
Hopkins, Lorenda Eichelberger, Montana and Asia Eichelberger; great
grandson, Jahson Jones; and great great granddaughters, Jayana and