‘It Takes a Village’: A look into the fight for civil rights and equality

Dr. Rev. Charles Becknell Sr., Ph.D. is the producer of the documentary Free at Last, and it chronicles the journey that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. took in his fight for civil rights and equality for people of color.

Dr. Rev. Charles Becknell Sr. is the founding director of The University of New Mexico’s Africana Studies program directed by his son, Charles Becknell Jr. R. Becknell Sr. is also an author. His book, Voices from the African American Village, was published in October 2019 and is a reflection on his own childhood in a segregated community and why he was so successful in life.

Voices from the African American Village: It Takes a Village to Define a Community

For many African Americans who grew up in the pre-civil rights era, the segregated community was usually referred to as a village. This was the origin of the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” The voices that came out of the village were voices that are now becoming diminished. These voices helped to keep the culture intact. The voices from the elderly, the parents, the church, and the community-provided discipline, hope, pride, and integrity for the inhabitants. Many may feel that some of the messages were crude or inappropriate, but we have to take into account the lack of educational opportunities during this time. This book attempts to capture the messages that we need to not only remember, but respect. These voices helped us to survive racism and discrimination. The voices of the village are still relevant today and should not be forgotten.

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference New Mexico Chapter

The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was started by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1957 and has always included eradicating classism and racism wherever it exists. The organization also works to ensure economic justice and civil rights in the areas of discrimination and affirmative action.

The New Mexico chapter of SCLC was re-activated in March, 2008. They strive to be a voice for the lost, the least and the left out. The SCLC New Mexico Chapter believes in bringing about equality for all people and this is a continuing goal of their organization today. They are working to make a contribution towards a solution to the problems of racism and discrimination in our communities. They are working to ensure that all people have a right to obtain employment to support their families, that the laws are fair and carried out to protect all people that young men are given opportunities instead of being placed on the “jail trail” and that health disparities statewide are recognized and obliterated by increasing communities’ access to healthcare services.

To find out more about Dr. Rev. Charles Becknell Sr.’s book and more on The Southern Christian Leadership Conference New Mexico Chapter, you can email him at