Revolution #235, June 12, 2011

A Reader Writes on:

50th Anniversary
Freedom Riders—A Legacy of Defiance

I really was moved by this article as that it reveals history which has been hidden from the majority of the people. That people can and do change the world, and that others are moved and compelled to act by the example of a courageous few who start the ball rolling. This brings to mind something that was part of my childhood. I grew up in a major metropolitan area, but would spend my summers in a rural/suburban town which had a lot of progressive minded people, mainly white. Many of these people had been moved to support the Freedom Riders in ways that were not widely known. There were a number of youth from the Freedom Riders who stayed in our area for a short period of time receiving medical care, dental care and some much needed R&R provided by sympathetic people of the middle strata who were outraged over these vicious attacks. There was one young African American man named "Bill" who looked after the gaggle of children (of which I was one of) and he genuinely loved and cared for us and engaged us in various games. A number of us became quite attached to him. It turned out later that he went back down South a few months later, quite aware of the risks that he was once again taking. One evening, after dinner, my family was watching the evening news, and we saw "Bill" being beaten bloody by the police. Of course, I recognized him and starting yelling that the police were beating "Bill." It took quite some time for my parents to calm me and my brother down, but I never forgot that incident. I think that probably was my first real exposure to the viciousness of this system, and it helped to lay the seed for me to later step forward as part of a new generation of rebel youth that came of age later on. Today, there is very real potential for a new movement of resistance to the crimes of this system to come forth and being built. That things do NOT have to be this way, and that a whole new future can come into being.

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