Turns Out the 96-Year-Old Woman Behind the Viral AKA/DST Video is a Civil Rights Legend in Alabama


July 4, 2019

Have you seen the viral video of the 96-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s reacting to her niece’s sorority news? Well, we spoke to her family (Ryann’s mother, Michelle Bartholomew Riggins) and learned that she and her family were anchors for civil rights in Montgomery Alabama. 

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“My great great aunt has Alzheimer’s and my favorite thing to do is tell her I’m an AKA (she’s a Delta). One thing she will not forget is her DST. Her reaction is priceless every single time.” – Ryann B. #becauseofthemwecan (check our recent posts to learn just how amazing her great great aunt is!)

A post shared by Because of Them We Can® (@becauseofthem) on


 Here are eight facts that we gathered: 

1) Her name is Mrs. Vera Harris. She is 96 years old and her family was very influential in the Civil Rights Movement. 


2) She still lives a few doors down from where Martin Luther King Jr. lived. They were friendly neighbors and his family still comes by to visit her.

3) The video is taken on the porch of her home where she sits daily and entertains questions from tourists from all over the world. 

4) Her daughter, Valda Harris Montgomery has even written a book called Just a Neighbor.


5) Mrs. Harris’ husband was a Tuskegee Airmen and he later became one of the first Black pharmacists in Montgomery Alabama.

6) Her house holds so much history in it. It was the actual pharmacy and she has kept the stools and the countertop in the house. 

7) Mrs. Harris and her husband also allowed the Freedom Riders to sleep in their family room upstairs when they came to town. 


8) Her house, where the video was filmed, is a national landmark. You can most likely visit and find her on the porch. It sits on the black with the Martin Luther King Jr. church parsonage that was bombed.


This is a true, Because of Them We Can story! To read more about Mrs. Harris and her family, click here to check out the article the Montgomery Advertiser published December 2018.

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