Skip to main content

South Salt Lake students learn about activism from Joan Trumpauer Mulholland

Feb 27, 2019 03:34PM ● By Lindsey Baxter

Joan Trumpauer Mullholland. (Lindsey Baxter/City Journals)

By Lindsey Baxter | [email protected]

Students in Granite School District had the opportunity to learn firsthand about the 1960’s civil rights movement from a woman who was there — Joan Trumpauer Mulholland. 

Mulholland was arrested at age 20 in Jackson, Mississippi. As a member of the Freedom Rides in 1962, Mulholland continued to be pro-active in the movement and take a stand throughout the civil rights movement, even getting kicked out of Duke University for her activism. Mulholland is a proud woman who was a key piece of history in the movement and participated in over 50 sit-ins, the March on Washington and the Selma to Montgomery March.

On Feb. 13, Mulholland spoke to Granite Park Junior High School students. Earlier that day, teachers were given a brochure on her life and the foundation that is now in her name. 

Mulholland travels around the country sharing her experiences and providing free resources to all students about civil rights and standing up for their beliefs. Loki Mulholland, her son and the executive director of the film, “An Ordinary Hero: The true story of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland” was on stage with his mother. They shared clips from the documentary and then stopped to have Mulholland talk about her experience when that part of the clip was happening. 

“I ended up being in a photo that is one of the most shared photos of some of the sit-ins. Loki, my son, started this foundation thinking that the younger people today needed to know what their grandmothers’ generation did and that the work isn’t done and get ideas about carrying it forward…,” Mulholland said.

When the presentation ended, Mulholland answered questions from students and posed for selfies with the students, who lined the hall to get a picture with her. 

Mugshot of Joan Trumpauer Mulholland from 1961. (Lindsey Baxter/City Journals)

 “We are honored to bring Joan into our schools to give students the opportunity to hear from a woman who walked with Dr. King and participated in many of the events they read about in their history books,” explained Brent Severe, CEO of Granite Education Foundation. 

Eighth-grade United States history teacher, Curtis Jones, has been at Granite Peak Junior High for 22-years. “I think the thing that stood out for me as well as the students is that the civil rights movement and the people that were working for the civil rights movement, it was diversity in the movement. It wasn’t just African Americans, but there were other people concerned about the well-being of the African-American community,” Jones said.

Brooke Porter, the communications director for the Granite Education Foundation, was present for all of Mulholland’s presentations throughout the week. “We were excited about the opportunity to bring Joan in to talk to the students because this is an opportunity for students not only to read about history but to hear about it from someone who experienced it and hopefully make it more real for them. Especially with what a diverse student population we have, all of them have faced different things. We wanted them to hear from someone who saw a chance to make change and really make change, we wanted to give our students the same opportunity,” Porter said.

Anahy Sanchez, an eighth-grade student, loved seeing the presentation as she has read about it in books before. “It was really cool to see an activist who was actually alive back then and hear her personal story. When the video stopped, I loved hearing her tell her story. Even though we perceive things bad now, we can feel proud of the accomplishments that we have had in the past. To get the equality now, especially since I am a person of color, to get the opportunity to learn. I have an opportunity and they didn’t,” Sanchez said.

For information about the foundation, visit