Mr. Auls was part of the “great migration” of African-Americans from the south to other parts of the United States. Born on Vine Street in Gadsden Alabama, Mr. Auls attended a segregated West Gadsden Elementary School before moving to the most integrated elementary school in the nation in Palm Springs, California with his grandmother. From there, he moved to Muncie, Indiana.
A working teenager in the Muncie, Indiana in the 1950’s, Mr. Auls was drafted into the world of civil rights by two African American civil rights leaders. The men were real risk takers, working for equality at that time. One of the men, Mr. Knight, was the owner of Knights Barbershop just down the street from the Bob’s Tavern, the town’s most popular bar. The other was Joseph Lyons, a tireless NAACP volunteer who would one day become president of the local chapter. Together they instilled in Lawrence the importance of their struggle.
After a tumultuous stint in the U.S Air Force, which was at that time still fighting its integration into of the armed forces, Mr. Auls moved to his birth home in of Gadsden, Alabama. While there, he was quickly arrested as a ‘northern agitator’ and returned to Muncie within six months.
Back in Muncie, he was re-motivated and inspired by the courage of the local civil rights movement, which was facing beatings by both police and citizens. And so Mr. Auls picked up where he left off, joining Knight and Lyons at local NAACP meetings month after month. Lawrence recalls sitting in the car and talking politics while his friends were partying at the YMCA. He believed in the nobility of sacrificing such ‘good times’ to right such ugly wrongs.
Conversations in cars led to official meetings, which in turn led to Mr. Auls becoming the Chairman of the Social Action Committee with the NAACP. While in this position, he met and negotiated with General Motors regarding providing more and better job opportunities for ‘negros’ in the community.
Around this time, local men in positions of authority were sending clear messages to counter the good work of Lawrence Auls. In a notable example of police racism and brutality, an African American US Veteran was thrown into the trunk of a police car. Local employers discouraged employees from participating in civil rights events. Intimidation and other unknown factors caused the then local NAACP president and attorney not to show for a human rights commission in Delaware County, Indiana.
Seeing the need for strong leadership growing, Lawrance Auls rose to become the president of the Muncie chapter at age 22.