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Hardy Zeigler took part in the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in North Bethesda, Md. on Jan. 19. (Courtesy Photo)

Though he recently turned 95, Hardy Zeigler has no plans to stop pushing for racial and civil equality. Born on March 4, 1920 in Damascus, Md., the civil rights leader has participated in social activism since the 1950s, leading the fight for equality for African Americans in Montgomery County, Md.

Zeigler’s experiences with discrimination led him to challenge segregation and pay equality, and question a curriculum that did not include the accomplishments of African Americans. “Before integration we were segregated. We went to all Black schools. Teachers taught White history in the schools. I went to the school board to make a recommendation that we change this,” Zeigler said.

Mr. Zeigler inspires others to support the cause. “The young generation of today should listen, fight hard, and work hard for what they believe in. If you don’t stand up for what you believe in, you will get knocked down for nothing,” Zeigler said. He emphasized his desire for the younger generation of today to listen to their elders for they have a story to tell and wisdom to offer.

Zeigler remains active throughout his community in many ways public speaking, and participating in roundtable events focused on issues such as education, housing, voting, and issues surrounding the 14th Amendment. He attends the Friendship United Methodist Church in Damacus, Md. and freely shares his experiences at any chance.

In the 1950s, Zeigler was a voice for the separate but equal cause fighting for equal pay for Black teachers. In the 1960s Zeigler became a youth advisor for the NAACP Montgomery County Chapter. “We sued Montgomery for fair equal pay because Black teachers were making less than White teachers,” Zeigler said.

His accomplishments and contributions to the Black community are vast and they include playing a leadership role in the historic March on Washington, working with the NAACP and the Maryland State Conference to sponsor the busses and coordinate participants.