“DOYLE” is the story about Congressional Gold Medal Winner Ernest L Doyle and his family’s contributions to the Selma Voting Rights Movement. Doyle, a World War ll Veteran joined the Dallas County Voters League and the NAACP in 1947 to fight for voting rights, desegregation, and first-class citizenship. Doyle believed the key to improving the living conditions of the poor, especially Black Americans was the ballot. Doyle said, “ there are many things we did not change but there is one thing we did, and that was the right to vote”, He was an indispensable and often an Invisible component of that success.
Doyle, Vice President of the Selma NAACP in 1955 helped led a petition drive to desegregate Selma city public school. The white citizen council used economic pressure and loss of credit that destroyed his carpentry business and jailed because he refused to withdraw his name from the petition and end his participation with the NAACP and the Dallas County Voters League. His wife and movement partner, Ruth Willis Doyle supplemented the family income with her beautician practice in their home and her teaching profession so he could stay in the movement. The white citizen council’s economic pressure prevented her from obtaining a job in Alabama and she was fatally injured in a car accident commuting to her teaching job in Georgia. His high school daughter Carolyn was denied a summer job because of her parents. She was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal for her work as a student activist in 1964.
Doyle was one of The Courageous Eight, the group that spearheaded the voting rights movement that invited and worked with Dr. King and the SCLC to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965. His primary role was to coordinate SCLC and Voters League activities. Doyle worked underground from 1956-1964 to keep the local NAACP chapter alive after the NAACP was banned in Alabama in 1956. In 1964, he became the Selma Branch President. One of the highlights of his tenure was forcing the city of Selma to change from an at large system of voting to award form that resulted in blacks being elected to the city council in 1972. Doyle and four others ran and won, however, because Doyle, had no opponent he became the first selected city councilperson in Alabama since reconstruction. He would later become the first Black Selma City Magistrate. Doyle’s son Wayne would become the first black to receive a diploma from a desegregated Parrish High, a fitting tribute for a man who was jailed 15 years earlier for demanding desegregation of schools.
What others say about Doyle:
...”As a person who has been elected several times, I understand that I didn't get elected on my own, that I and every other black person who is elected and a lot of white folks who are elected stand on your shoulders and The Courageous 8”... Senator Hank Sanders
...”Mr. Doyle was a member of the civil rights ground crew “... Marie Foster
... “when we were together it was always this idea of what can I (Doyle) give to help our community, especially the black community to move forward”...Rev. Fredrick Reese
“Why did Selma of all places became the center of the voter registration campaign, not just in Alabama but all over the country, it was able to produce that bill( 65 Voting Rights Act) and it was because of the consistency and the strategy that was used, it never stopped moving, because we got people who were committed, people who were interested, and the core thing for Selma, Alabama was that you had that incredible leadership of the voters registration campaign, the Dallas County Voters League and strong leaders like Mr. Ernest Doyle... they became role models for others” ...Rev. Bernard Lafayette
You can see a preview of Doyle in our videos above.
If you would like more information and or wish to contribute to and or support this documentary please contact the producer.
P.O. Box 798,
Selma, Al 36702