Black History Month: 2 civil rights activists make a major difference in Huntsville

2 civil rights activists make a major difference in Huntsville

MADISON, Ala. (WAFF) - We continue to honor those that made a difference in the civil rights movement during Black History Month.

There are some truly incredible stories about people that really made a change and they were from North Alabama!

We are focusing on two men in this story, Dr. Sonnie Hereford III and Dr. John Cashin. Two brilliant men were major players in the civil rights movement in Huntsville.

They strategically planned a sit-in in downtown Huntsville in 1962 with their wives. Dr. Cashin’s wife was carrying a 4-month-old baby girl named Sheryll. Dr. Hereford’s wife was 8 months pregnant and also had her 4-year-old son, Sonnie Hereford IV with her.

This not only made local news but made national news. City leaders realized this was not going away. That sit-in, on April 11th, 1962 finally changed things in Huntsville.

WAFF got the privilege to talk to Sheryll Cashin, the daughter of a dentist, Dr. John Cashin via Facetime. She’s now a professor of Law, at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

“In the spring of 1962, there was a news blackout. The Huntsville papers were pretending sit-ins didn’t happen. I guess they thought if they didn’t respond to it, the civil rights soldiers would give up and go away!

WAFF also got to sit down Sonnie Hereford IV. He is now a software engineer who calls Madison home. He doesn’t remember the planning behind the day of the lunch counter sit-in. That’s because he was just a young boy that day, he, and his mother, Martha, who was 8 months pregnant at the time, were thrown into jail.

“Absolute determination, they both wanted to see this through. They would get bomb threats at the house, but they were completely determined this would work,” said Hereford.

But, it wasn't just shops and stores that lifted segregation rules.

Thanks to the efforts of those two men, this opened the door to integrate the schools in Huntsville.

Sonnie Hereford IV was the first to integrate.

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