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Winonah Beamer Myers
June 9, 1961
*Winonah Beamer Myers was born on this date in 1941. She was a white-American civil rights activist and Mental health practitioner.
Born in Cleveland, OH, Margaret Winonah Beamer was a student at Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio, she joined the Freedom Riders in the summer of 1961.
Beamer joined four other activists on a train from Nashville, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi, where they were arrested in the Illinois Central terminal on June 9, 1961. They were there to challenge the non-enforcement of the United States Supreme Court decisions Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia and Boynton v. Virginia (1960). While in prison she refused bail and refused to file an appeal, later saying, "I didn't think it would be recorded if no one had done the time." Jailed on June 11, 1961, she was in the prison system until Christmas Day of that year. She spent most of her time in a prison near the men's death row and was able to talk to some of the death row inmates through the vents.
Beamer was among over 436 black and white activists who eventually and successfully broke the system. She said, "Our feeling at the time was, 'We're going to keep coming and we're going to flood your jails, cram your dockets and break you financially, " Winonah Beamer married David Myers in 1962. She spent most of her life working with people with intellectual disabilities at a number of places in Ohio, including 22 years with the Montgomery County Board of Mental Retardation. After retirement, the couple lived in Ellenton, Florida. She worked part-time as a toll taker on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which crosses Tampa Bay until her death on March 16, 2018.