GHC publishes memoir about the Civil Rights Movement in Rome
Georgia Highlands College recently published a manuscript called “Voices in Protest” about the civil rights movement in Rome, Georgia. The memoir was written by Rose Esserman Levin.
The book consists of two parts: narratives (collected and organized by Rose Levin) by African American students from Main High School about their participation in sit-ins and Rose Levin’s memoir of her life and time in Rome, including as an activist with her husband Jule Levin.
According to their daughter Ann Levin, the book “represents [my mother’s] effort to contribute to the memory and preserve the stories of the civil rights movement and these brave young people.” The student narratives describe their experiences in March 1963 when they “began intensive and coordinated efforts to desegregate downtown Rome lunch counters” and the “resistance, intimidation and retaliation” they faced. Many students were jailed and “in some cases convicted and punished for their ‘crimes’ of civil disobedience.”
Rose Esserman Levin was born in Rome and lived there during these years. She and her husband Jule spent almost 25 years of their married life as members of the Rome community.
Describing her parents, Ann Levin writes in the Foreword, “They held strong convictions about and were outspoken advocates for racial equality. They could have taken an easier and safer route and kept their politics and values to themselves. But they chose to speak out…to work for civil rights and social justice.” Some of this urgency to act “may have stemmed from being Jewish and understanding aspects of the minority experience. But whatever the factors and reasons, they were clear, courageous and consistent in their efforts to advance the movement. They did this publicly as well as ‘behind-the-scenes,’ as a kind of ‘tag-team,’ in ways that are detailed in this [book].”
In 1993 Ann and her husband established a scholarship fund, now housed at Georgia Highlands College, which honors the civil rights work of both Rose and Jule. The Rose Esserman Levin and Jule Levin Fund for Social Justice gives an annual scholarship to a GHC student with a demonstrated commitment to social justice and human rights. To learn more about the scholarship, please visit Georgia Highlands College or find GHC online at www.highlands.edu
It is expected that the book will be available at institutions such as the Rome Area History Museum, Rome public library, and Rome public schools. The document can be accessed electronically at: