Thursday, February 5, 2009

Freedom Riders

This is the month of February and if I am not mistaken it is Black history month. The Smithsonian magazine has a great story on the Freedom Riders and tells where some of those people are today.

For those who do not know about the Freedom Riders, they were volunteers who traveled the South on regular scheduled buses for 7 months in 1961. This was done to test a 1960 Supreme Court decision that declared segregated facilities for interstate passengers illegal.

Here are a few of these people and where they are today: John Lewis and Bob Filner are congressmen, one for the state of California, one for the state of Georgia.

Russell and Mary Jorgenson are 91 and 92 years old now and live in California.

and my all time favorite Joan Pleune, 70 still doing her thing with the Granny Peace Brigade in N.Y.

I admire these people and people everywhere that stand up for injustice. I, however am a couch protester, the closest I've come to protesting is for my vet where I signed a petion and sat at a city council meeting at City Hall (I didn't go to the podium to speak). I think that penrose gene missed me.

It did not miss my Uncle Boise (pronounced boyce), he was walking back to the family home on Spruce Street one day when he passed a factory. In front of this factory was a crowd, a gentleman on a soap box was airing his discontent for the establishment that he was in front of. My Uncle agreed with everything the man said, better wages etc. So, my Uncle got up and expressed his opinion agreeing with the gentleman.

My Uncle was very pleased with himself, at dinner he was going to share his day with the family when my grandfather, already knowing the events, blasted his older son. Unfortunately, the Penrose family had stock in this very factory. My Uncle, who wrote poems, plays and had a heart for the underdog, was told he had done a very irresponsible thing and that he was going to have to learn responsibility. He became a lawyer and a senator.

I often wonder what his life would have been like if he could have followed his creative nature.


Betty said...

Your uncle was very brave. He may have been called irresponsible, but I'll bet he wasn't called unamerican, as he might have been in recent years.

Looking to the Stars said...

Betty, thank you. Good point, sad how times have changed.

Dr. Jay SW said...

One of the most moving moments at the recent presidential inauguration was when Obama mentioned that forty years ago his father couldn't have eaten at a restaurant in Washington D.C., and the camera turned to John Lewis rising from his seat to clap--a man who had his skull cracked open in Selma....

Looking to the Stars said...

Dr. Jay SW,
I did not know that was John Lewis who rose from his seat, thank you for sharing.