D.C. march a Richmond woman's family tradition - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

D.C. march a Richmond woman's family tradition


Continuing the effort to realize the dream is critical for a Richmond woman who attended the '63 march with her mother and will return to mark the 50th anniversary, this time with her own daughter. Political activism is a Waller family tradition and their family roots run deep.

For more than a century, through five generations, Waller and Company Jewelers has been an entrepreneurial gem.

"We believe we are the oldest African American-owned jewelry store in the country," said Betty Waller Gray.

The patriarch, who started the business repairing clocks, attached his card, with the company slogan "Let Waller make your watch tell the truth."

Speaking "truth to power" through political activism: a Waller tradition.

"In 1948, my mother received an award from President Truman for efforts to get persons registered to vote," said Betty.

As a high school student, Betty Waller Gray took part in picketing and sit down protests of segregated downtown businesses.

"Which did not allow us to eat, colored only bathrooms and water fountains," said Betty.

And in the summer of 63, just after graduation, Betty and her twin joined their widowed mom for a demonstration into destiny.

She has keepsakes from the August 28 march on Washington for jobs and freedom.

Like most in the crowd, Betty was spellbound til the end. Betty and her daughter will be going together on Saturday. Betty's daughter calls it a personal and professional priority.

"I'm a teacher, I work with kids everyday who don't understand or grasp what our people have been through and where we've come from," said Leonetty Gray. "They take it for granted, and it hurts, because I know what my mom went through going to segregated school."

Mother and daughter, committed to realizing the dream.

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