Freedom Ride inspires participants to create change



the pilots in HL furnace no Jim trolled on a pony stake and stop this free band sold 3,000 students bad in jail if their heads and sing have fun to freedom like some birds the freedom rise of the sixties change America forever seeing a moving movement a role in movement traveling about bus through the South freaking the conscience of the American people for taking a large group of students to points of interests that have made a significant influence on our history and we're doing it with those people who participated in history and helped make the changes themselves I hope to take a journey back in time to see what it was like with some of my mother father grandparents living in America and how segregation really affected their life we left Washington on May 4th 1961 some on a Greyhound bus and someone on the trail a bus and in a little town called Rock Hill South Carolina my seatmate Abba Bigelow the two of us try to enter a so-called white waiting room and the moment we started through the door a group of young white men attacked us and left us lying in a pool of blood but the cost of the violence that occurred in Anniston Alabama between Atlanta and Birmingham the burning of the bus and the beating of the Freedom Riders on at railway buffs in Birmingham core suspended the ride and I came back to Nashville Diane Nash and the students here took a position that we could not allow the threat of violence to stop a non-violent campaign John was beaten in jailed subjected to horrible abuse and and still with all of that he lived in Congress still seeking to help create what he calls the Beloved Community and then we're not trying to be martyrs they were afraid they were anxious they had families but they said I will do X I will no longer accept Y and then lived it out what are their people and again for me they are this nation's greatest gift but I guess you could say or the analogy of what we're seeing today I kind of figured us all this I guess you could say archaeologists and like we was picking through the bones a little bit of all the history but now that we had that people talk in front of it was like that's been flesh to the bones and it was suggested that the ten of us that had been selected write a note to our loved ones in the event of our death put it in an envelope left them with Diane to be forwarded to our family as if we were killed and I told my mother I love you so much but I've got to go she said you can't you can't go you can't do this and that's it mom I've got to go I love you and she sewed it you've killed your father and hung up when we were driving into the bus terminal they're just there didn't seem to be any traffic or people on the streets and we got off the bus it was it was quiet except for the media there and then all of a sudden from the terminal from around the corners from everywhere people and they were screaming get up killing niggers got him get the niggers being a little taller than some of them and being white I kind of figured I stood out a little bit so knowing what was coming I bowed my head and I breathe and in that moment I had the most powerful religious experience of my life made me know that no matter what happened whether I live to whether I died it was going to be alright but I was grabbed and pulled over a railing thrown to the ground and as I got to all fours to try and get back to the group I was kicked to my spine it's when I had three vertebrae broken I was throwing forward through on my back a boot came down in my face and that's basically the last thing I remember those of us who are on the feeder line will continue to feel like I'm not sure that I'll be able to do it we're going on to New Orleans no matter what happens we're dedicated to this we'll take Kitty we'll take being we're willing to accept death but we're going to keep coming until we can ride from anywhere in the south anyplace else myself without anybody making any comments just as American citizens the first part of our panel discussion is going to be that day in Montgomery when the Freedom Rides actually arrived and the moment we started down the steps an angry mob just came out of nowhere first attacking not us not the Freedom Riders but members of the media and the mob turned on us start beating Jim and the two of us up against the wall and we would laugh lying in a pool of blood and it was flawed man the Public Safety Director who came up and he pointed his gun straight up in the air and said there'll be no killing here today there'll be no killing here today and the mob dispersed that was the period of time where I started making decisions about whether I could do a better job of coordinating from Nashville or from Montgomery and so very shortly I came into Montgomery but there were still students in Nashville that kept the organ the young office running Freedom Riders in the front row please okay we're didn't lose take photos for about 30 seconds straight here so just keep smiling in college there's someone had told me back in 1961 devil you will see Vanderbilt University Tennessee State and fierce and American Baptist together on a bus but to see the large number of african-american students attend in Vanderbilt is it is so gratifying there is so moving Martin Luther King's quote that everyone kept repeating was you haven't lived until you found something worth dying for and I haven't found that and I realized you know that's pretty profound and it's pretty inspiring so took that debatable you know I want to look for something that really inspires it come into Vanderbilt in a totally different environment it was my first experience as a minority and it was just very difficult to adjust in trying to identify these feelings and you know what is this history where this is coming from like where do I fit in American society basically and hearing the Freedom Riders talk just put that in a different light and I just feel like I was in the 60s to this weekend you know I think of so many people that gave so much nobody that was their names the army the workers the marchers it was hard not to tear up here in the museum few minutes ago I was standing there watching Jim's work standing with some of our students watching himself and I guess at this point I'm just very honored and humbled to be a part of this we can walk through these every day and you see the pictures but you make us realize by being here that you were once like us and in giving us that this right here we can see that your extraordinary acts came to a place that is not unlike the one in which we live right now and that makes it possible to know that even if the challenges facing or our nation and our generation in our lives in this world that's really there they're complicated and deep and problematic we have a prayer of fixing them if you had a pair of fixing the ones that you did in the way that you did and we see it because you're human and you're with us thank you on the way home I'm riding the front seat to Jackson

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