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http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2011/05/anniversary_of_the_freedom_rid.html

Today, May 4, is the 50th anniversary of the first freedom ride that departed from Washington, D.C., in 1961. Looking back at that tumultuous year, I vividly remember standing on the platform of the Central of Georgia Railroad in Macon, Ga., on Dec. 10 with my boyfriend (and future husband), anxiously awaiting the train from Atlanta. He and I, along with other Mercer University students and faculty, had participated in various civil rights demonstrations. Then we waited for a train that carried nine young black and white women and men. That day their mission was to travel together from Atlanta to the southern Georgia city of Albany to test compliance with the Interstate Commerce Commission's order to desegregate all interstate transportation.

As we waited, my mood alternated between excitement and concern. I admired the courage of the freedom riders. But I well understood the potential danger they faced from intransigent segregationists in the region. Albany's chief of police at the time, Laurie Pritchett, was well known for his fierce opposition to all forms of integration. I was also aware of the resistance and violence that other freedom riders had encountered, especially in Alabama and Mississippi.

Pritchett, however, didn't intend to let a violent or unruly mob bring negative publicity to his city. He simply arrested and jailed the freedom riders as soon as the train arrived. Change came exceedingly slowly to Albany.

When that historic group of freedom riders left Washington, D.C., in 1961, their plan was to travel across the South nonviolently protesting segregated bus seating. Bound for New Orleans, they were well schooled in the philosophy and techniques of nonviolence. They had accepted the possibility that they risked injury, even loss of life.

For those too young to remember the events of the 1960s civil rights movement, the resistance and violence with which the freedom riders and other activists were met as they challenged Southern segregation may seem incomprehensible today.

One particularly horrific incident occurred in Alabama when a mob of white supremacists fire-bombed one of the buses. Intending to burn the occupants alive, the mob held the doors shut on the burning bus. Fortunately, the riders managed to escape before the bus exploded, only to be savagely attacked and beaten.

The bus burning was only one of many acts of violence they encountered. Rather than defeat them, however, this opposition only fortified their determination to continue and galvanized support for the movement. Hundreds more joined them who also were met with hatred, violence, arrest, imprisonment and, in numerous cases, life-threatening and permanent injuries.

On May 16, PBS will premier the film "Freedom Riders" on the show "American Experience." The authoritative history of this part of the civil right movement is Raymond Arsenault's "Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice."

To commemorate the freedom riders' heroism, Oprah Winfrey is devoting her show today to their stories. Out of 436 known riders, at least 146 have died, but 138 have accepted Oprah's invitation to come to Chicago to participate in this program.

I will be in Chicago for the taping of the show as well as for the three-day freedom riders conference this weekend, not for a ride down memory lane, but to acknowledge and honor the sacrifices thousands of people have made over many decades working for racial justice. Though the days of segregated interstate transportation are over, the struggle for racial justice and equality continues. "









http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/freedomriders/people
 

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I wonder if Al Gores Father -"Al Gore Sr." was there ?
 

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The irony of you posting this almost overwhelm me.

Steven
 

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There is no painless way to change ingrained cultural injustice. That change is nearly always won in a river of blood. I was growing up in TX during the 60's. If it were not for the determined non-violence of these leaders, rivers of bloodmight have flowed. There was some violence on both sides, but change was necessary, and the principled leadership that rose up demanding that change was the right group at the right time. 99% of what they marched for has happened. It's time to look ahead and build a better future for everyone based on hard work and responsible citizenship.
 

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There is no painless way to change ingrained cultural injustice. That change is nearly always won in a river of blood. I was growing up in TX during the 60's. If it were not for the determined non-violence of these leaders, rivers of bloodmight have flowed. There was some violence on both sides, but change was necessary, and the principled leadership that rose up demanding that change was the right group at the right time. 99% of what they marched for has happened. It's time to look ahead and build a better future for everyone based on hard work and responsible citizenship.
well said!!
 

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There is no painless way to change ingrained cultural injustice. That change is nearly always won in a river of blood. I was growing up in TX during the 60's. If it were not for the determined non-violence of these leaders, rivers of bloodmight have flowed. There was some violence on both sides, but change was necessary, and the principled leadership that rose up demanding that change was the right group at the right time. 99% of what they marched for has happened. It's time to look ahead and build a better future for everyone based on hard work and responsible citizenship.
Excelent post. :thumbsup::thumbsup::agree::agree:
 

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There is no painless way to change ingrained cultural injustice. That change is nearly always won in a river of blood. I was growing up in TX during the 60's. If it were not for the determined non-violence of these leaders, rivers of blood might have flowed. There was some violence on both sides, but change was necessary, and the principled leadership that rose up demanding that change was the right group at the right time. 99% of what they marched for has happened. It's time to look ahead and build a better future for everyone based on hard work and responsible citizenship.
Bravo !
 
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