Oral Histories

Bonnie Collier

See the full interview here.


See the full interview here.


See the full interview here.

" And it seems really strange… you know..to… the… for that to happen in New Castle like you know…30, 25, 30 years after the initial  thrust of the civil rights movement from the 60s. But I guess it was just the complacency of the community…you know back in the 60s that everything was status quo and you know people had employment and people had their homes. New Castle was initiating community that…you know…majority of African Americans there owned their homes, had jobs, there was not any abject poverty that was going on in that community. The community never had more than…at any one time had more than 4-500 African Americans living in that community at the time. It was probably less than that now. But times change you know" 

 -Rick Cottman










Rick Cottman is a New Castle native who collaborated with Reverend Charles Harrison after the latter arrived in New Castle as the pastor of United Methodist Church in June of 1986. Mr. Cottman and the community improvement association committee met with the former Mayor of New Castle,Bud Ayers, to improve employment opportunities for Blacks in the town. When that failed to bear fruit, Mr. Cottman helped organize and participated in the New Castle March for Equal Employment in the summer of 1987.

"When it...a girl who was about three years younger than me, her brother and I went to school together. She was a reporter for the Elwood paper and she came and asked me if she could do an interview. And I said, Sure!" you. I'm not...I'm tired of people being afraid of the Klan and so she did an interview and published in the paper...the Elwood paper. Well then Indianapolis news on Channel 6 got a hold of it. They interviewed me on camera and then uhh I guess then...the story went nationwide because some friends of my dad's said they were in Florida and heard about it. So uhh Good Morning America wanted to interview me but that never...I don't know what happened but it never came about. But yeah I was...I was freely giving interviews and letting it be...you know...get out there about what happened and that things needed to change in Elwood." 

                               -Rebecca Murphy


Rebecca Murphy was born in 1949 and was raised in Elwood. She grew up in a middle class family, her father owned Morrow's Texaco station and her mother was a housewife. She went to grade school at Oakland School. In middle school she began to realize how different life was for Whites and Blacks when civil rights marches started. She continued to be an advocat for civil rights throughout high school and married a man named Ron with whom she had three children. Once her and her husband divorced, she moved to Elwood with her children. After being threateded by the Klan, she refused to leave right away. She ended up moving to Anderson with her boys and lives there now where is very close to her family. 

“Just stand up for yourself, but you don’t need to do it in a violent fashion or anything like that, you just gotta make your voice be heard, make sure that people know what’s right and what the truth is and then… eventually the truth will take hold and if you give it to people enough times it will just take hold. But if you resort to violence… you know… you’re kind of stooped to the level of whoever your oppressor is, whether it’s because you’re Black or Hispanic or Gay. If you stoop to their level then you’ve instantly lost your credibility and our fight’s going nowhere.”










At 10 years old, Micah Mitchell experienced an act of racial discrimination and hate. His experience subsequently altered the way that he viewed his town and the police officials appointed to protect its citizens. More importantly, through witnessing his mother and her bravery in the way she handled the situation by turning to activism, Micah was more inclined to stand up for himself in other areas of his life, without becoming hateful in the process.










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