Dorie Ladner, ¡Presente!

Dorie Ladner, 1968. Photo by Fred Sweet

SNCC veteran and lifelong activist Dorie Ladner died on March 11, in Washington, D.C.

Raised in Mississippi, she saw first-hand the white supremacist violence used against anyone advocating for civil rights. As teenagers, Dorie and her sister Joyce were mentored by Clyde Kennard, Vernon Dahmer, and Medgar Evers. One by one, these inspirational leaders were murdered. Undeterred, Ladner organized in Jackson and Natchez, Mississippi. She later moved to Washington, D.C.

Ladner worked as an emergency room social worker and was active in campaigns about D.C. statehood, incarceration, war, public health, education, and more. On Saturday mornings she spoke on Pacifica’s WPFW (89.3), and she inspired high school students during her visits in person and via Zoom.

Dorie Ladner speaking during the Standup! for Democracy in DC founder’s day event on August 3, 2017 at Busboys and Poets. Photo by Lateef Mangum/The Washington Informer.

In a 2014 interview, historian Emilye Crosby asked Ladner, “When you look back, what are the things that seem most important to you or that stand out for you?” She replied,

That I did the best that I could to make a difference in the world for humanity. All humankind. And that I would do the same thing over again. And as long as I’m breathing, I will continue. I have always had fire, and always been ready to engage in something. And it’s something that burns, you turn on a flame that burns for people who are being mistreated.

Read about Dorie Ladner at the SNCC Digital Gateway and watch the documentary film, Standing on My Sisters Shoulders. Read the full interview referenced above, “I Just Had a Fire!” Introduce students to SNCC with the lesson by Adam Sanchez, Teaching SNCC: The Organization at the Heart of the Civil Rights Revolution.

SNCC Digital Gateway

Share a story, question, or resource from your classroom.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *