Posts Tagged ‘ Charles Reed Jr. ’
By Charles Reed Jr.
Today was the day that the PBS 2011 Student Freedom Rides bus visited Birmingham, Alabama. While in Birmingham, our first stop was the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. This museum highlighted the struggles of the civil rights movement with its exquisite exhibits. Hearing the audio to some of Dr. Martin Luther King’s speeches empowered me to remain active in the fight for social justice. The longer I remain a part of this wonderful, unique, and educational experience, I know that we must all somehow become involved in helping others realize their power as young leaders of today.
Following our visit to the Civil Rights Institute, the bus went to 16th Street Baptist Church where four young, innocent girls were killed when the church was bombed in 1963. In reflecting on the bombing, it is difficult to grasp the reality of how cruel the segregationists were during that turbulent time in American history. They seemed to have no regard for human life, especially for African Americans. For some reason, they were fearful of change and were willing to use violence to cope with this fear.
During the day, we also had the opportunity to listen to Catherine Burks-Brooks, an original 1961 Freedom Rider, as she discussed her involvement in the civil rights movement. Her stories of the experiences she had during the movement were sincere yet filled with humor. She had this aura that captivated us as an audience. Her enthusiasm about empowering today’s youth was the highlight of her presentation.
Before my visit to the 16th Street Baptist Church, I didn’t know whether or not I would get emotional during this experience. This evening when we revisited the church for a gospel choir concert, I had my answer. As I sang along with the choir, the words of choir made me a bit teary eyed. These Freedom Riders sacrificed so much for me so that I would have the opportunities that I have today. I also thought about my grandmother who grew up during the civil rights movement and how she only wanted the best for me in life. I know she would be proud to see how far I have come and I wish she were here to see it. As we continue on this ride, I will always remember to appreciate those who have come before me and keep their legacy alive.
By Charles Reed Jr.
To begin our trip through the Deep South, the 2011 Student Freedom Ride embarked on a journey to Fredericksburg, Virginia—the first stop of the original 1961 Freedom Riders. As the bus was driving down Route 1, the exact path the original Riders took, it truly hit me about how much courage the Freedom Riders had. I experienced indescribable, overwhelming feelings when I thought about what it must have been like to travel that same route 50 years ago. It is unimaginable the thoughts that must have been running through their minds. The tenacity and motivation of the Freedom Riders is something that I greatly admire.
Not only was this part of the Ride significant because it marked my first journey through the Deep South, but it was also the first time I would revisit my alma mater of just one day (I was officially a graduate of the University of Mary Washington as of May 7). It was an unforgettable experience for me to receive my diploma today in front of my family, friends, and 39 of my new friends on this Ride.
UMW has played an important role in my life, but it was also an aspect of the Freedom Rides being that it was James Farmer’s home for 13 years where he taught as a Distinguished Professor of History and American Studies. The lessons I learned about Farmer regarding the way he used the philosophy of nonviolence to galvanize an army of nonviolent activists that fought against the Jim Crow laws of the South is knowledge that I deeply appreciate.
This brings me back to the first day of our 2011 Student Freedom Ride in which we had the opportunity to learn from a true American heroine, Diane Nash. Just like many of the original Freedom Riders I have met, she encouraged us in our workshop to pursue our dreams, discover our passions, and stand up for what we believe in.
These beginning moments of this historic journey have me feeling an enormous sense of honor. As an advocate for social justice and civil rights, I understand that my job of educating people about social issues such as the Freedom Rides is not over with, but instead it has just begun. It is my duty to encourage and help people become more socially aware. I have the power to affect many lives, and I want to assure myself that I do just that.
50 Years Later, Students Retrace 1961 Freedom Ride
By the Associated Press
Charles Reed Jr. is skipping his college graduation ceremony to do something much more significant to him: retracing the original 1961 Freedom Ride and paying tribute to those who helped win the civil rights that his generation enjoys.
Reed says missing Friday’s graduation doesn’t compare to the sacrifices the original Freedom Riders made when they challenged the South’s segregation laws: quitting jobs, dropping out of college and, ultimately, risking their lives. Read more…
50 Years Later, Students to Follow Path of Freedom Riders
By Karin Kapsidelis
Reginald M. Green was a 21-year-old student at Virginia Union University when he boarded a Trailways bus on Broad Street for a ride he knew would ultimately take him to jail.
Charles S. Reed Jr. is a 21-year-old student at the University of Mary Washington who’s about to get on that bus, too. Read more…
UMW Senior Chosen for Freedom Ride
by Jeff Branscome
The University of Mary Washington today issued the following news release:
University of Mary Washington senior Charles S. Reed Jr. is the sole Virginia student—and one of only 40 U.S. college students—chosen through a nationwide competition to retrace the historic route of the original 1961 Freedom Rides that challenged segregated bus travel in the South.