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Posts Tagged ‘ John Walker ’

Atop Pine Mountain

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

By John Walker

It’s been almost three weeks now, and I still cannot believe I was on the bus. There are questions everyday and pictures to remind me this trip of a lifetime happened. As surreal as it might have seemed, there is no doubt I spent eleven days with thirty-nine of the most amazing people in my generation. They came from all walks of life and headed off in every direction imaginable. For those eleven days we were bound tight, weaving a web of friendship, ideas, and pure energy. And just like energy we could not keep to the confines of one bus but had to expand rapidly like a big bang. Imagine forty shooting stars across the sky going in different directions, each one carrying enough light to change the world.

Here I am on the top of Pine Mountain looking across the valley. The night sky is clear, but no sign of shooting stars. Up here we fight strip mining and help communities affected by it. Up here we watch the tallest mountain in our state being stripped all night and day. The work never stops. Even from across the valley we can hear the bulldozers and the trucks, the roars and groans of heavy machinery blending with the whippoorwills and night critters. The mine’s overhead lights illuminate the distant mountainside while we slowly build up our campfire.

I wonder if they can see our tiny fire. I wonder if they know why we are here. Someone in our circle starts pickin’ at a banjo while others sing. Someone throws another stick on the fire, and a smile creeps onto my face. There is only one song I can think of right now, one I can’t wait to sing with my new friends again someday.

“this little light of mine,…..”

Day 4: Gaining Perspective

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

By John Walker

Today we found ourselves in the historic city of Petersburg, Va. Like many southern towns, it is much more famous for its history than its current state. When we came in, I strangely felt like I was back in Kentucky. There, off the side of the highway, was the long line of strip malls that make up that modern U.S. town. What 20 years ago they called progress is now just a sign of a dying community. Dion Diamond, original Freedom Rider from Petersburg, unexpectedly stopped our bus when he saw the Trailways Bus station was still there. His own amazement came to my attention. Are we that far removed from ourselves?

Dion had the bus pull over immediately and soon enough we were on an impromptu walking tour of downtown Petersburg. Within minutes of reaching the heart of downtown, the comments of fellow student riders came to my attention. Many of the riders who have never been to the South had no words to describe what they were seeing. There were boarded up windows in every other building, traffic was bare, and the nicest place downtown was the tiny diner that defines many similar towns. All I could do was try to explain to my new friends what happened to this town, just as Dion was doing. As I stood there describing the fate of this town there was a realization. I was describing the death of hundreds of communities across this country.

Many times I hear these towns described as dying, bombed out, or ghostly. I call them home. Others see the failure of a once thriving village.  I see the broken promises of a lost generation. So the next time someone asks me if I will ever leave my home I can only answer truthfully. No. Here is where I take my stand. Whether it is the flooded out, gutted out, river towns or the blasted mountain hollows, this is where I plant my stake. There will be others to take the fight to the cities and I respect them for it. But mine is in the forests and by the streams, wherever they may be. Mine is in the towns where everyone knows your business. I don’t mind, because my business will be their wellbeing.

So in short conclusion I say it’s time to wake up these communities. They aren’t dying, just sleeping. And when they finally wake, just maybe America will take a long look at itself and say “Oh, there you are. Welcome back.”

Day 3: John Walker

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Day 3: Meghna Chandra

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

The Murray State News

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Student Joins Freedom Riders for Summer Journey
By Paige Graves

Fifty years ago a group of people stepped onto buses bound for the Deep South with the intention of testing desegregated travel facilities. Like the very first Freedom Riders in 1961, John Walker will be stepping on a bus for the 2011 Student Freedom Ride to remind the nation of the reality of segregation.

Walker, senior from Nicholasville, Ky., is participating in the ride sponsored by American Experience and the Public Broadcasting Service. He is one of 40 college students from across the country who will retrace the stops of the original 1961 Freedom Ride, traveling from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans from today through May 16. Read more…

Lexington Herald-Leader

Monday, April 25th, 2011

Murray Student to Join Freedom Riders on 50th Anniversary
by Merlene Davis, Herald-Leader Columnist

One Kentuckian rode on an integrated bus during the first Freedom Rides of 1961, traveling through the Deep South in an attempt to end the oppressive legal policy of segregation.

Now, as that event is revisited on its 50th anniversary, another Kentuckian will get on the bus, this time to participate in a safe, but unique, learning experience. Read more…

Murray Ledger & Times Article

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

MSU Student Selected for Freedom Ride 2011
by Hawkins Teague

A Murray State University student has been selected by PBS as one of 40 college students to participate in the 2011 Student Freedom Ride in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the original Freedom Rides and the broadcast of the documentary on the subject. Read more…

Student Rider: John Walker

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

Murray State University
Murray, Kentucky
Hometown: Nicholasville, KY

Watch the full episode. See more Freedom Riders.