Eighty-three-year-old protester Louise Brown's arrest this week reminds her of being taken into custody nearly 50 years ago during the Charleston hospital workers' strike.
She sees protest as her duty, to advocate for those who have no voice and for those who are too afraid to speak. Her cause, then and now, is economic and social justice.
She does not fear arrest.
Brown was one of the demonstrators arrested Monday and charged with traffic infractions for blocking a roadway near the Governor's Mansion in Columbia. She is back on the protest lines after almost a half-century. This weekend, she will attend a rally in Washington, D.C.
“I’m fighting the same fight I fought in '69, but I’m doing it in 2018," Brown said. "I’m encouraged and obliged to go to jail for what I feel is right and unfair. It’s always a privilege.”
Before her arrest Monday, she was protesting the deployment of the S.C. National Guard to the Texas-Mexico border.
Back in 1969, she and other Charleston hospital workers were protesting for equal wages, fair treatment and the right to unionize.
Brown was a nurse's assistant when she was fired with 11 other union-organizing employees at Medical College Hospital in Charleston. The workers' firing ignited a strike that brought union organizers, national attention and the National Guard to the city for a tense stand off.
The months-long strike ended with the rehiring of workers and adjusted wages. The hospital workers were joined by the Rev. Ralph Abernathy, Coretta Scott King and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, among others, in support of their rights to unionize and an end to wage discrimination.
Black workers at the hospital were not being paid as much as their white counterparts, and, on average, their hourly salaries were below the minimum wage.
Pamela Brown Ulasi was 5 years old when her mother was first arrested during the hospital strike. At the time, she was ashamed of seeing her mother go to jail.
"But now, today, when I see her go to jail, it's like jubilee," Ulasi said. "(She's) fighting for somebody that can't fight for themselves."
Brown has been traveling to the Statehouse in recent weeks along with other members of the newly formed Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. The original movement, started by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., sought to generate economic relief for the overworked and underpaid. The current Poor People's Campaign is led by the Revs. William Barber and Liz Theoharis.
Some saw the Charleston hospital workers' strike as an extension of King's campaign, which was led by Abernathy in 1969 after King's assassination the year before.
South Carolina Poor People's Campaign organizer Kerry Taylor said Brown's spirit was humbling.
Taylor gave Brown a ride back from Columbia on Monday after picking her up from jail. He asked whether she wanted to get dropped off at home in Mount Pleasant. She told him instead she wanted a ride to a town hall meeting on affordable housing in North Charleston.
"She ordered me to speed," Taylor said.
The Rev. Wendy Hudson-Jacoby gave the main clergy address during Monday's demonstration and later attended the same town hall meeting in North Charleston. She wasn't expecting Brown to show up, having been arrested hours earlier, but was pleasantly surprised to see her walk into the room.
"To me, that was so inspiring," Hudson-Jacoby said, "that she was still committed to workers' strikes and human dignity."
In Brown's eyes, younger people who work low-wage jobs and have loans to pay off have more to lose.
"They cannot afford to get in the streets, so we as an older people have to fight for them because they cannot do it themselves," Brown said. "They need their jobs, in spite of the little money they’re getting."
Like the organizers of the newly formed Poor People's Campaign, Brown sees many issues — including family separation at the border, access to public transit and Charleston natives being unable to afford to live in their own city — as falling under an umbrella of wealth inequality.
"We are being enslaved, but not (by) chains and shackles," Brown said. "By the salary that they give us — slave mentality salary. I'm sick and tired of it. I will fight, and victory is going to be ours, for poor people."
Brown grew up in Charleston and lived in various locations on the peninsula. In recent years, she's lived in Mount Pleasant, having been priced out of the downtown area she grew up in. Before she started working with the Poor People's Campaign, she canvassed for public transit rights.
"I said, 'This is ridiculous,'" Brown said. "I said, 'I've got to get out there and do something. I don't know what I can do at 83.'"
Brown's grandchildren share images of her activism on social media. Ulasi said, wherever her mother is, the family tries to be there, too, and when she was growing up, the people in her community took their concerns to Brown. This is nothing new for her mother, she said.
"You know what she is? She's a motivator," Ulasi said. "She motivates you to want to do better. If you're looking at a lady who's 83 years old out there fighting, then what about you?"