Inspiring Women of the Capital Region: Nell Stokes

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Nell Stokes didn’t read about the civil rights movement, she lived it.

“I didn’t really recognize the extent of the racism until I was 6 years old.”

She was raised in Montgomery, Alabama and her best friend was a white girl until the first day of school.

“I saw her and I ran over to her and said, ‘hi Connie.’ She looked at me and said why you talking to me little n****r, wow, get out of my face. It stung me.”

That sting stayed with her, so years later when a woman in town named Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus, Nell and her friends ‘hatched’ a plan.

“We got together our pennies and bought some eggs and threw them at the busses that was the first thing I did.”

The next thing was to register to vote. All you needed was a few bucks to take a test.

“So I got my $5 together and I was so excited.”

Her answers were right but her skin color wrong.

“He said you failed, get out of here gal.”

Get out she did and came to McCarty Avenue in Albany in the fall of ’63. Her first order of business.

“You know I voted in November of 1963 and I’ve voted every time since.”

In the five decades since, Nell’s volunteered with dozens of causes including the League of Women Voters, helping others to vote.

It’s not an auto but awards that fill her garage. The little girl from Alabama has lived a life, her advice to the young women of today?

“Focus on the positive things in live, be a part of the solution. Most of all love yourself; you know you can’t do anything for anyone else when you don’t love yourself and who you are.”

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