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Freedom Riders Praised at Site of Arrests and Beatings

By Daniel Cherry | Published 24 May 2011 02:35pm | comments
Freedom Riders see themselves in Jackson Bus Station photos

Freedom riders are being celebrated at the same place they were arrested in Mississippi fifty years ago. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the riders are now being welcomed to the Jackson Greyhound Bus Station as heroes.

In downtown Jackson hundreds gathered in the streets to see the unveiling of a Civil Rights Trail marker at the old bus station.
Bill Harbour was 19 when he came to Jackson. Now 50 years later his black and white picture is prominent on the marker.

"I stepped out of the bus here, and walked inside here and walked to the white side. The chief said move on and in less than five minutes I was in the wagon, and you can see up on the board where I was getting in the wagon going to jail."

The Mississippi Freedom Foundation has orchestrated a six day celebration for the 50th anniversary of the rides. Governor Haley Barbour has apologized to the riders for how they were beaten and jailed for challenging segregation in Mississippi. He says that's something we should never forget.

"A lot of Civil Rights history in the United States occurred in Mississippi. That's why it's totally fitting and proper that we recognize this, celebrate the progress that stemmed from it, but most of all in my opinion we learn from it."

When Lew Zuchman came from New York to Jackson he was arrested and put in Parchman for more than 40 days. He says he's been inspired by the outpour of support, but he doesn't want to get too much praise. He was just doing what he thought was right.

"I just don't like us being considered heroes. I think we were people of conscience who acted on our conscience, and I think many of us can do that. Once we're called heroes then other people won't do what we did, and I hope all of us who have conscience when we feel there are evil things going on like the racism, that we all stand up."

Today the riders will travel to Money, where the Emmit Till encounter took place. Then they'll return to Parchman Penitentiary.

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Freedom Riders see themselves in Jackson Bus Station photos


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