"I don't think I'm going to go there."
Her reticence is not unusual for veterans of the voting rights wars. For some, the memories are too painful to share even four decades later. Some suffered nervous breakdowns. Others experienced survivor's guilt. Many become stoic and detached when asked to share their experiences. Some never even told their children what happened to them.
"They're like people who go into armies," says Taylor Branch, author of "Parting the Waters," the Pulitzer-Prize winning look at the movement. "They have post-traumatic stress syndrome. There are a lot of movement casualties."
Bender is not detached, though, when it comes to talking about the contemporary need for Section 5. She says it's still vital because of the spread of voter ID laws, and attempts by elected officials to squeeze minority voters into specific voting districts that dilute their voting power.
The idealism that fueled Mississippi Freedom seems far gone today, she says. The battle over voting rights is part of a larger pattern of many affluent Americans becoming indifferent to others with less health care or money, she says.
"I don't think we're at a very optimistic place in the country right now," she said. "There's a tremendous sense of disappointment that we have to revisit these issues over and over again."
As measured as Bender's statements are, the sadness in her voice is unmistakable.
Almost 50 years after one of their greatest triumphs, she and the other founding fathers and mothers of the Voting Rights Act face a new battle.
The voting wars they thought they won may soon spread across America again.