Dorie Ann Ladner (Courtesy photo)

Dorie Ann Ladner, a formidable figure in the Civil Rights Movement known for her tenacious spirit in the face of harrowing dangers in Mississippi, including gunfire, tear gas, police dogs, and Ku Klux Klansmen, passed away on March 11, at the age 81 due to respiratory failure at a hospital in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Ladner was the aunt of Delbra Ladner Richardson Price, a distinguished business pioneer, philanthropist, and educator, as well as the wife of Los Angeles City Councilmember Curren Price, District 9. This trailblazer is survived by her daughter, Yodit Churnet; four sisters; three brothers; a grandson; and a host of community leaders, activists and admirers.

Her journey was marked by her unwavering commitment to justice, from her early activism in the heart of the segregated South to her later years advocating for lasting social change.

Ms. Ladner, together with her sister Joyce, grew up facing the harsh realities of the Jim Crow era. They endured sitting at the back of the bus, using separate restrooms and drinking fountains designated for “Blacks Only,” attending segregated schools, and receiving second hand textbooks from White students. These injustices strengthened their determination and resolve to seek change.

Spurred on by the horrific death of 14-year-old Emmett Till and encouraged by local NAACP leaders, she would go on to become a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), which became a main organizer of the Civil Rights Movement.

Ms. Ladner’s activism was characterized by her fearlessness. She and Joyce, who would later become interim president of Howard University, pursued equality during a vulnerable time in Mississippi history.

The sisters initially attended Jackson State College, a historically Black institution in Mississippi, before transferring to Tougaloo College, a hub of the Civil Rights Movement. In the late 1960s, Ms. Ladner engaged in activism with the Congress of Racial Equality and anti-poverty initiatives.

She later returned to Tougaloo, earning a bachelor’s degree in history in 1973. Subsequently, she pursued a master’s degree in social work at Howard University, graduating in 1975. For 30 years, Ms. Ladner served as an emergency-room social worker at the now-defunct D.C. General Hospital in Washington.

Ms. Ladner actively participated in and spearheaded marches, sit-ins, voter registration campaigns, and pivotal events such as the 1963 March on Washington where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963.

She endured arrests, assaults, and threats but remained steadfast in her mission for equality and justice across the state. Despite the dangers she faced, Dorie Ann Ladner’s contribution to voter registration drives and her advocacy for the right to vote were vital to the movement.

Her life and legacy remain a shining example of determination and hope, inspiring those who continue to fight for equity and justice both at home in America and across the globe.

A memorial service will take place at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington D.C. on April 13 at 10 a.m. to honor and celebrate her life.