Meditating On The 50th Anniversary Of The Freedom Rides, February 7th, 2011

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Meditating On The 50th Anniverssary Of The Freedom Rides, February 7th, 2011.

Sunday, February 6, 2011
For Immediate Release:

By Ali-Masmadi Jehu-Appiah

Tuesday, May 16, 1961. “We held two meetings today. The first was at 6 this morning, the second from 7 to 1 tonight. After much discussion, we decided to continue the Freedom Ride. Of the 18 who volunteered, 10 were chosen: three females and seven males. We will leave on the Greyhound bus tomorrow morning at either 5:15 or 6:45. We were all again made aware of what we can expect to face: jail, extreme violence or death.”

- The Freedom Riders

See and hear Jim Zwerg read this on Democracy Now! video below.

Today, Monday, 7th February, 2011,marks the 50th Anniversary of a very important movement that has become known as the Freedom Riders. Stanley Nelson, the award-winning filmmaker and director of The Freedom Riders. spoke of the Freedom Riders and on the importance of this event, on Democracy Now! in these terms:

“STANLEY NELSON: Well, I think the Freedom Riders is a great, great story. It’s kind of the story of the beginnings of the civil rights movement. It’s a story that so many people really don’t know, and it will be the fiftieth anniversary of the Freedom Rides in 2011. So we wanted to get the film started and make sure that we got it, and got it out, and got it done in time for that.”

I looked up in Wikipedia and was very impressed with the quality of information on the Freedom Riders:

Freedom Riders were civil rights activists that rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States to test the United States Supreme Court decision Boynton v. Virginia (of 1960).[1] The first Freedom Ride left Washington, D.C., on May 4, 1961, and was scheduled to arrive in New Orleans on May 17.[2]
Boynton v. Virginia had outlawed racial segregation in the restaurants and waiting rooms in terminals serving buses that crossed state lines. Five years prior to the Boynton ruling, the Interstate Commerce Commission had issued a ruling in Sarah Keys v. Carolina Coach Company that had explicitly denounced the Plessy v. Ferguson doctrine of separate but equal in interstate bus travel, but the ICC had failed to enforce its own ruling, and thus Jim Crow travel laws remained in force throughout the South.
The Freedom Riders set out to challenge this status quo by riding various forms of public transportation in the South to challenge local laws or customs that enforced segregation. The Freedom Rides, and the violent reactions they provoked, bolstered the credibility of the American Civil Rights Movement and called national attention to the violent disregard for the law that was used to enforce segregation in the southern United States. Riders were arrested for trespassing, unlawful assembly, and violating state and local Jim Crow laws, along with other alleged offenses.
Most of the subsequent rides were sponsored by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), while others belonged to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC, pronounced “Snick”). The Freedom Rides followed on the heels of dramatic sit-ins against segregated lunch counters conducted by students and youth throughout the South and boycotts beginning in 1960.
The United States Supreme Court‘s decision in Boynton v. Virginia granted interstate travelers the legal right to disregard local segregation ordinances regarding interstate transportation facilities. But the Freedom Riders’ rights were not enforced, and their actions were considered criminal acts throughout most of the South. For example, upon the Riders’ arrival in Mississippi, their journey ended with imprisonment for exercising their legal rights in interstate travel. Similar arrests took place in other Southern cities. (From Wikipeadia, the free encyclopedia, MORE…)

The Freedom Riders: New Documentary Recounts Historic 1961 Effort to Challenge Segregated Bus System in the Deep South

Freedom Ride inspires participants to create change

Mississippi Freedom Riders – Interview with author and photographer Eric Etheridge

Activities In The News:

Anniston to commemorate the Freedom Riders

The Spirit of Anniston announced the culmination of a two-year effort to lay the groundwork for a Civil Rights Heritage Trail commemorating the civil rights movement in the area.

The last of the pieces have fallen into place, said Betsy Bean, executive director.

That doesn’t mean the work is finished, she added. Spirit will continue working with its partners in the project and with the community to create signage, murals as well as curriculum and leadership programs for students in the community.

The first events introducing the trail will be in May 2011, 50 years after the historic 1961 Freedom Ride.

The Anniston-Calhoun County Public Library will host an exhibit of photographs of the attack and burning of a bus from the Freedom Ride in Anniston.

The Freedom Riders, a group of black and white civil rights activists, were riding buses through the South to protest segregation on interstate bus lines.

The ride came to a temporary halt in Alabama when the buses were attacked, first in Anniston, then in Birmingham.

The Anniston attack, in which a bus was stopped by a group of angry white residents and set ablaze, produced one of the iconic photos of the civil rights movement.

The bus riders, some badly injured flew to New Orleans a few days after the May 14, 1961attacks, but a group of students from Nashville traveled to Birmingham to pick up where they had left off.

In May, the city will host a screening of “Freedom Riders,” a documentary about the ride, in conjunction with a re-ception for a busload of college students who will be recreating the Freedom Rides.

Ahmad Ward, of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, said the collaboration between the institute and the Spirit on the Civil Rights Heritage trail was natural. The attack in Anniston was an important turning point in the civil rights movement.

“This event helped to turn some white businessmen in Alabama, who realized this kind of thing couldn’t go on in the state,” Ward said. “It’s a very important part of the fabric of Alabama. You know, we kind of like to look at Ala-bama as the landmark of American history at the institute and all of these pieces fit together.”

Feb 07
Exhibit and film celebrates 1961 Freedom Riders

Monday February 07,2011

2311 E. Hartford Ave.
Category: Museums & Tours
A national traveling exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the “Freedom Riders” and screening of an upcoming film on the same topic is coming to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) Libraries beginning this month. The exhibit and film focus on an important chapter in the nation’s struggle for civil rights: the effort by more than 400 Americans to challenge segregated travel laws in the South during a six-month period in 1961. This free exhibit – held from Jan. 24 to Feb. 21 in the Daniel M. Soref Learning Commons at 2311 E. Hartford Ave. – is a companion to the May PBS broadcast of the American Experience film “Freedom Riders,” directed by Stanley Nelson. A free screening and a talkback with the film’s producer, Mark Samels, will be held at the UWM Union Theater on Monday, Feb. 14 at 6:30 p.m. A formal opening of the exhibit follows a panel discussion on civil rights moderated by UWM history professor Robert Smith on Tuesday, Feb. 1. The discussion is held from 3-4:30 p.m. in the Library’s fourth floor Conference Center.

UMW to celebrate 50th anniversary of Freedom Riders on February 7

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Mississippi Freedom Riders, the University of Mary Washington will present Eric Etheridge and his moving portrait of the Freedom Riders. The program will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, February 7, 2011, at the Great Hall in the Woodard Campus Center.
A reception will follow. All members and friends of Shiloh Old Site are invited to attend.

Monday, February 7, 2011, (Noon, Ball Circle)

Freedom Riders Commemoration Kickoff
Ball Circle, Campus Walk
Special event to kickoff a community-wide awareness and action campaign.

Monday, February 7, 2011, (7 p.m., Great Hall)
Eric Etheridge
Great Hall, Woodard Campus Center
Journalist and photographer Eric Etheridge is author of the book Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Freedom Riders.  (James Farmer Visiting Scholar Program event.)

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FREDERICKSBURG, VA — The University of Mary Washington will launch a semester-long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, and civil rights pioneer James Farmer and Monday, Feb. 7, with a special kickoff event followed by a Freedom Rides scholar’s remarks.

The 1961 Freedom Rides challenged the segregation of bus transportation throughout the Deep South. Freedom Riders were beaten and jailed, and their buses were attacked during the rides organized by James L. Farmer Jr., then head of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality.
Farmer taught the history of the civil rights movement to Mary Washington students for about a dozen years before his retirement in 1998. That year, President Bill Clinton awarded Farmer the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2010, the university teamed with Rep. Lewis, who rode with Farmer on the Freedom Rides, to campaign for a U.S. postage stamp honoring the late Farmer.
The three-month tribute will feature appearances by Freedom Riders and academic scholars of race, civil rights and student activism. The March 30 limited-release showing of the critically acclaimed PBS documentary “Freedom Riders” will be among the highlights. The celebration will culminate May 7-8 with events that include a commencement address by U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a Freedom Rider and civil rights leader.
UMW President Rick Hurley encourages the public to get involved in the university’s celebration of Farmer and the rides by participating in the scheduled activities. “I invite the entire UMW community to come together to pay tribute to the legacy of the Freedom Riders, to recognize the role of our beloved professor as one of our greatest civil rights champions, and to reflect on the lessons that they have for us today,” Hurley said.
The public is invited to the following events in a schedule that begins during Black History Month:
* Freedom Riders celebration kickoff at noon Monday, Feb. 7, on Ball Circle and Campus Walk. Author Eric Etheridge will speak at the kickoff and he will be accompanied by two former Freedom Riders, the Rev. Reginald Green and Joan Trumpauer Mulholland.
* Lecture by Eric Etheridge, author of Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Freedom Riders, at 7 p.m. Feb. 7, in the Great Hall, Woodard Campus Center. A journalist and photographer, Etheridge recently interviewed and photographed many of the original Freedom Riders for the book.
* An address, “Lessons of the Civil Rights Generation for Today’s Students,” by Andy Lewis, author of The Shadows of Youth: The Remarkable Journey of the Civil Rights Generation, from 3 to 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 30, in Lee Hall, room 411.
* Limited-release showing of the film “Freedom Riders” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, in Dodd Auditorium, George Washington Hall. PBS and UMW have collaborated on this special showing of the widely hailed documentary directed by Stanley Nelson. PBS will broadcast the film in May on “American Experience.”
* Freedom Riders panel discussion and Great Lives lecture at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31, in Dodd Auditorium, featuring a talk by Raymond Arsenault, author of Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice, followed by a discussion with a panel of Freedom Riders.
* UMW commencement address by Rep. Lewis, part of the ceremony at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 7 on Ball Circle. Lewis, a civil rights colleague of James Farmer and organizer of sit-ins to protest segregation, co-founded and chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a leading organization for student activism.
* Students aboard the PBS “American Experience” bus retracing the route of the first Freedom Ride will stop Sunday, May 8 at UMW in Fredericksburg, part of the original route, for a commemoration at the James Farmer memorial on Campus Walk.

The original 13 Freedom Riders, including Farmer, boarded a bus in Washington, D.C., on May 4, 1961. The racially mixed group of men and women, ranging in age from 18 to 61, traveled through Virginia and into the Deep South, where segregation was decreed by local and state laws. The Freedom Riders risked their lives as they faced police brutality, vigilantes and even bombs.

Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent federal marshals to Alabama to restore order after mob violence erupted, and at one point, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. flew to Alabama to support the riders. When news of the brutality against the first rides reached the nation and the world, buses from all over the U.S. joined the effort. In all, more than 400 Freedom Riders – a majority of whom were jailed in Jackson, Miss. – traveled through the South to demand just treatment of all interstate travelers.


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