Willie Mae Butts was born in West Virginia. She came to South Bend in 1952 when her husband decided to open a medical practice along West Washington.
Willie Mae devoted so much of her time—to working with her husband’s medical practice, to raising her children, and to many local causes, including as the first African American woman elected to South Bend’s Human Rights Commission.
In 2003, Willie Mae sat down with IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center’s David Healey. They talked about her early days along South Bend’s west side, how hard it was for her and others to find jobs and housing, and how tirelessly she worked organizing for change.
This episode was produced by Joey Meyers from the Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts at Indiana University South Bend; and George Garner from the IU South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Center.
Want to learn more about South Bend’s history? View original photographs and documents from people who made history. Check out our archival collection online or in person at our website: https://clas.iusb.edu/centers/civil-rights/local-history/index.html
Title music, “History Explains Itself,” from Josh Spacek. Visit his page on the Free Music Archive, http://www.freemusicarchive.org/.