SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Carolyn Gage will discuss the civil rights activities of the late Southwest Harbor activists LaRue Spiker and Louise Gilbert Tuesday, Sept. 17 from 5:30-7 p.m. at the Southwest Harbor Public Library.
The presentation, “Quietside’s Unsung Civil Rights Heroines: LaRue Spiker and Louise Gilbert and the Wade House Bombing,” is part of the Women’s History Month celebration at the library.
Spiker, an activist, environmentalist and editor for the Bar Harbor Times, has a bench dedicated to her memory in front of Harbor House.
“But many people do not know,” organizers said, “that Spiker and her life partner Louise Gilbert courageously put their lives and their freedom on the line in one of the most violent landmark incidents in the Civil Rights Era: the Wade House Bombing.”
In 1954, an African American family moved into a home in a white neighborhood in Louisville, Ky. Within days, racist signs and a burning cross appeared near their yard, and the windows in the home were shot out.
A small group of activists volunteered to keep guard in the home at night so that the family could sleep. Spiker and Gilbert were among these five guardians.
One night the house was bombed, and the five were accused of having planted the bomb themselves to draw attention to their cause. Arrested and jailed on charges of sedition, the women faced the possibility of a 14-year prison sentence. The Wade House Bombing became a national turning point in the struggle for housing desegregation.
Gage is the author of 75 plays, musicals and one-woman shows. She specializes in non-traditional roles for women, especially those reclaiming famous lesbians whose stories have been distorted or erased from history.
Now retired, she toured for 22 years in her award-winning play “The Second Coming of Joan of Arc,” teaching and giving lectures and workshops. She has taught at Bates College and the University of Southern Maine.
She currently has plays being produced in Ireland and Rome, and in February one of her plays is being workshopped professionally in New York.