Evelyn Toney was just a little girl when her life was changed, or as most people would say–when her eyes opened up to the world.
On one particular day, Toney and her mother visited an ice cream shop. Toney was not feeling well, and her mother wanted to cheer her up with an ice cream cone.
A young white lady was working in the ice cream shop; she was a dress with a little napkin on her head and an apron around her waist. She was smacking on gum when she asked Toney’s mother, “what ya’ll want? My mom said my baby’s sick here I’d like to get her a little ice cream. And with the dollar in her hand, she passed it to her. She went back; we stood there and stood there. She finally came back with the prettiest little ice cream.”
But what happened next was something Toney never forgot. The lady holding the ice cream bowed over it and spat on the ice cream. From that moment on, Toney set out on a mission: she was determined to change the people of Albany. In a few years, she helped form the NAACP Youth Council. Toney became the first woman to be arrested during the Albany Civil Rights Movement, and it all started at the bus station on November 22, 1961.
“We went in there that morning; we ordered our tickets out of state to Jacksonville, Florida. We went in and went straight to the lunch counter and sat down.”
It didn’t take long for the police to be called and the group was back out of the seats and out the back door talking to the police chief. The group was told if they went back in and sat at the lunch counter jail would be next. The group acknowledged the police officers warning. However, they went back to the bus station. But they weren’t there for long; all three were arrested and taken to jail, where segregation was non-existent. Sitting out at the lunch counter was segregated, but jail was integrated! Toney was had been placed in a holding cell with a white woman.
From that day forward, freedom walks were held every day. Although, it took years to change the ways of the city, when change did come it was worth the wait.
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