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The Girls of the Leesburg Stockade

Credit: Danny Lyon/Magnum Photos

On July 19, 1963, civil rights marchers filled the streets of Americus, Georgia, to protest segregation. Many of the protesters were children, a few as young as 12 years old. 

That day, at least 15 Black teenage girls were arrested. After spending a night in jail, they were transferred to the one-room Leesburg Stockade and imprisoned for 45 days. The cement-floor room had no beds or running water, apart from a dripping shower head.

Only twenty miles away, the girls’ parents had no knowledge of their location. A month into their confinement, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) heard rumors of the girls’ detention and sent photographer Danny Lyon, who took pictures of them through barred windows. Within days, Lyon’s photographs appeared in publications around the country and were entered into the Congressional Record.

As the girls’ ordeal gained national attention, they were released without charges. The story of the ‘Stolen Girls’ — as they have come to refer to themselves — is one of the lesser-known stories of the Civil Rights Movement.

To see more photos by Danny Lyon, visit his website and Instagram.


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