On May 4, 1961, 436 people risked their lives to fight for human equality, and against racial discrimination, in the deep south. They were called the FREEDOM RIDERS, because they boarded buses in our nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C., and rode to New Orleans,  to proclaim the solidarity of their union for the FREEDOM for all races. By their courageous actions, they pronounced their opposition to the Jim Crow laws that separated races and denigrated black Americans to separate restrooms, restaurants, seating on buses and public arenas.

Fortunately, last week a friend called to tell me that Oprah was televising a commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the historic event.  We taped the hour-long special, and later sat in awe, captured in the horror of what some Americans did to their own people. The documentary showed how mostly college students, and some older adults – both black and white – united together in support of equal rights and freedom.  Tears filled my eyes as I watched people in the southern cities of Alabama and Mississippi beat the FREEDOM RIDERS with clubs, sticks and other weapons. We saw members of the Ku Klux Klan organization, who were blind supporters of the segregationist laws that prevailed, viciously attack,  maim and even take the lives of many of those on the buses.

An Alabama teacher I know who sheltered and offered food to many of the FREEDOM RIDERS, saw the pain and suffering they experienced.  “If it wasn’t for these people, the Civil Rights legislation that came from Martin Luther King’s march  may never been born,” she said. “Those folks suffered plenty, but it was for an important cause and it made a difference.”

As I noted in last week’s post:  “Never believe that a few caring people cannot change the world . . . that is all who ever have.”    Margaret Mead, anthropologist.

By taking a stand and modeling courage to follow the Character Traits we have been looking at over these past weeks, we can all make a difference in our children – even if only in small ways.

How have you or someone you know made a difference in your life or the life of another by their courage?

One thought on “FREEDOM RIDERS

  1. Trish,
    Great post! So glad I could be that friend who set this in motion. Hearing your description of your wonderful novel and research was what helped to perk up my ears and prompt my call. I’ll take Margaret Mead’s wonderful advice a bit further and say that if we all performed just one simple act of care and concern each day, the world will definitely change. Go see the documentary I AM for some inspiration about making a difference. And keep writing!!

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