On Tuesday, September 10, a group of about 400 Provo High Students were privileged to hear from Civil Rights legend Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, a white, southern, female who risked her life to help change the course of history. Students first watched the award-winning documentary An Ordinary Hero that was created by Mulholland’s son, Loki, about his mother’s experiences. Afterward they were able to ask the historical icon questions about her involvement during the Civil Rights Movement.
Mulholland participated in over 50 sit-ins and protests by the time she was 23 years old. She was a Freedom Rider, a participant in the Jackson Woolworth sit-in, and an organizer of the March on Washington. For her actions, she was disowned by her family, attacked, shot at, put on death row, and hunted by the KKK for execution. Her path crossed with some of the biggest names in the Civil Rights movement including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, Robert Kennedy, Diane Nash, and John Salter, to name a few. As a white southern woman, her courage and fortitude in the movement is highly regarded and recognized. Her involvement has been written about in several books including Growing Up in Mississippi, Breach of Peace, and We Shall Not Be Moved. She has appeared on television and news programs such as Oprah and the CBS Nightly News, and her experiences have been highlighted in award-winning documentaries including An Ordinary Hero, PBS’s Freedom Riders, Standing on My Sister’s Shoulders, and the groundbreaking film Eyes on the Prize.
Mulholland has received numerous awards and recognition for her heroic efforts. Most recently she was recognized, along with other female Freedom Riders, by President Barak Obama. She received Delta Sigma Theta Inc.’s Annual Award of Honor as well as the Anti-Defamation League’s Annual Heroes Against Hate Award.
An Ordinary Hero will be broadcast on KBYU Sunday, September 15, at 9:00 p.m. and on Monday, September 23, at 8:00 p.m. for any who are interested in finding out more about this remarkable woman.