Anyone Can Be A Hero

Joan Mulholland

The Civil Rights Movement had a lot of ordinary people, young and old, who were heroes. They saw something that was wrong and decided to do something about it. Joan Trumpauer Mulholland was one of those heroes.

When Joan was nine years old she decided segregation was wrong and that she was going to do something about it. By the time she was 19 years old, Joan had participated in over three dozen sit-ins and demonstrations. She was attacked, cursed at, shot at, disowned by her family, imprisoned on death row, and hunted down by the Klu Klux Klan for execution all because she chose to do what was right even though it wasn't easy.

Joan would go on to be involved in some of the biggest events in the Civil Rights Movement. She participate in the Freedom Rides and was at the now infamous Jackson Woolworth's lunch counter sit-in. Joan was the first white member of the traditionally all-black sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., helped plan and organize the March on Washington, was at the funeral of the victims of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, participated in the early discussion about Freedom Summer and helped trained one of the three Civil Rights Workers that would eventually be killed.

Along the way Joan would meet many famous people: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Medgar Evers, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Joan Biaz, Marlon Brando, Jackie Robison, Jesse Owens, Oprah Winfrey, President Barak Obama and many more. Her story continues to be shared in award-winning books like "We Shall Not Be Moved" and "Coming of Age in Mississippi" along with award-winning films such as "Freedom Rides", "Eyes on the Prize", and "An Ordinary Hero: The True Story of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland."

You can learn more about Joan at

Videos Segments From the Award-Winning Film, "An Ordinary Hero":

Life Under Segregation

The Freedom Rides

The Jackson Woolworth's Sit-in

The March on Washington

The 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing

Freedom Summer

Primary Source Content from the Joan Trumpauer Mulholland Foundation:

Additional Civil Rights Related Videos from Studies Weekly:


Martin Luther King Jr. Intro


Benjamin Banneker Intro


Rosa Parks Intro


George Washington Carver Intro


Harriet Tubman Intro


Thurgood Marshall Intro


Shirley Chisholm Intro


W.E.B. Du Bois Intro