Civil Rights Activist Maria Gitin, an Alum, Reflects on Voting Rights Act

Monday, August 10, 2015
SALINAS CALIFORNIAN -- Gitin was a 19-year-old San Francisco State University student in the early 1960s when she heeded the call of Martin Luther King Jr. to come to the South to help register black voters. There were many obstacles to black voters then. One was that they had to be able to read the U.S. Constitution in English. “It was not even an option not to go,” said Gitin, who has written a book about her civil rights experiences titled “This Bright Light of Ours.” While doing voting rights activism in Alabama she was chased by the Ku Klux Klan and jailed. Looking back, she said, “I was very fortunate to be among the white students who were called south by Dr. King.” Of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Gitin said, “It’s a very important act because so many people risked their lives for the right to vote.”