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She Stood for Freedom: How a Civil Rights Activist’s Actions Influenced her Son

March 27, 2020

Four years ago, I had the opportunity to interview Loki Mulholland, the son of Joan Mulholland, who was heavily involved in the civil rights movement. Joan grew up when race was a hot-button issue, and participated in sit-ins, secret meetings, the Freedom Rides, March on Washington, and various protests. She received backlash from friends, family, her university, and was even arrested.

The part that stood out to me when interviewing Loki was when he talked about how this translated to his childhood. He had no idea his mother was so heavily involved in the civil rights movement, but he knew his mother was supportive of those who may have been different from others.

Loki grew up during the Vietnam War, and Asians faced heavy persecution during this time. As a child, Loki became friends with many Asian-Americans and Asian immigrants.  One incident he told me about that stood out to me is when he recalled protecting his Asian friends from bullies.

Loki often escorted his Asian friends home from school to help protect them. This led to him being hurt himself, but he kept doing it. He would also bring his Asian friends to his house to hide them from bullies. This was a bigger deal to him, because it was often when his mother wasn’t home, and he wasn’t allowed to have anyone over when she wasn’t there.

When Joan found out about this, she was okay with it. Loki said this was because he was doing the right thing in protecting his friends. He continued to do so throughout the year.

I loved this story because both Loki and Joan truly saw the good in others and put their own lives in jeopardy to protect those who needed it. This is an important thing for all of us: sometimes the spirit of the law is more important than the letter of the law. It may be hard to help others at times, but seeing the good and the light that everyone has will make it easy for us to do so. If you want to learn more about Joan Mulholland’s story, you can read the book, She Stood for Freedom.

Photo credit: By Rockabillyvampire – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,