Posts Tagged ‘ JoyEllen Freeman ’
By JoyEllen Freeman
There’s no place like home. And I believe that. From the very beginning of the trip, I looked forward to traveling to Atlanta with my fellow Freedom Riders because this is the city that I call home. As a part of our visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. historic site, we visited Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. King used to preach. We sat in the pew and listened to a recording of one of Dr. King’s original sermons. Listening to his congregation respond back to him, staring at the wooden communion table with the quote “This do in remembrance of me,” and watching light stream through the stained-glass windows felt all too close to home because it reminded me of my own Baptist church in Roswell, Georgia. Hearing the trembling in Dr. King’s voice as he confessed that he too “gets discouraged” was difficult for me to hear because discouragement, dejection, and fear are not concepts that I want to associate with Dr. King, the civil rights movement, or with my hometown. It’s such a strange feeling when home transforms from a place of comfort to one of solemnity and pain, and I found that it also takes a lot of emotional effort to accept this new reality. I guess this is a part of “stepping out of my comfort zone” that I promised myself I would do.
Likewise, Anniston, Alabama conjures these same sentiments on an even deeper level. The epitome of a small, southern hometown, Anniston is the infamous location where a mob of angry whites firebombed the Freedom Riders’ bus in 1961. During my visit to Anniston and the firebombing site, I felt a constant clash between the eeriness of the events that occurred 50 years ago and the desperation of the city’s residents to reconcile with this history. Despite the delicious grits, warm Southern hospitality, and newly designed tribute to the 1961 Freedom Rides, Anniston still has many opened wounds relating to segregation and injustice. No matter how I or anyone else may feel about the painful events in Anniston’s past, I try to remember that about 25,000 people call this place “home,” and I need to respect that.
By JoyEllen Freeman
After the screening of Stanley Nelson’s film Freedom Riders at the Newseum in Washington D.C., Diane Nash made the important point that as citizens, we do not have to wait on legislators or politicians to fix our communities; we have the power to affect change. From my own experience, I have found that between exams, applications, homework, and the everyday stresses that result from being a college student, it is easy to develop an attitude of complacency or acceptance. Life can become a cycle of robotic motions that we follow just to make it to our ideal academic or occupational destination. If we take a step back, however, and evaluate the pressing issues in our communities, these problems may require more than just another degree. For the original Freedom Riders, the issue of injustice and segregation in their communities required so much more, and I learned from the film that in many cases, Freedom Riders left behind school, their families, and an entire way of life in order to fight for the justice that their nation promised. Although it was expected of them to get an education, become productive citizens, and abide by the laws of society, the Freedom Riders chose, as John Lewis put it, “to get into trouble.”
I have decided that on this trip, I need to make some of my own trouble. To me, making trouble means stepping out of my comfort zone for the sake of justice. It means sharing the story of the Freedom Riders with everyone that I meet. It means shedding all sentiments of fear, reluctance, and complacency in exchange for courage, eagerness, and restlessness. Diane Nash said that “we can’t change others; we can only change ourselves,” and that is my personal goal for the 2011 Student Freedom Ride. During his talk about documenting the Civil Rights Movement, Stanley Nelson said that “you don’t have to be superhuman to make change.” Explaining the 1961 Freedom Rides to the man sitting next to me on the plane to D.C., smiling at a stranger in the Newseum, and accepting new ways of thinking are all ways that I can and have affected change in my community. As I embark on this new journey, I am just as excited to make change as I am to be changed.
Freedom Rides Again
By Jeanne Bonner
Forty college students, including two from Georgia, are retracing a seminal Civil Rights-era journey. Fifty years divides the two trips, but the students will depart from Washington, D.C., just as the original Freedom Riders did in 1961. As the students prepare for the bus trip, they are learning how much the Freedom Rides changed life in America. Read more…
Students Recreate Bus Journey: Freedom Ride Remembered
By Lindsey Cook
JoyEllen Freeman is going on a road trip this summer, but it’s not the average trip to the “Jersey Shore” or Disneyland.
Freeman is participating in the 2011 Student Freedom Ride sponsored by American Experience and the Public Broadcasting Service.
Freeman is one of 40 college students from around the country who will retrace the stops of the original 1961 Freedom Ride, traveling from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans from May 6 to May 16. Read more…
Athens, Ga. – JoyEllen Freeman, a sophomore in the University of Georgia Honors Program, is one of 40 college students selected to participate in the 2011 Student Freedom Ride, a civil rights history bus tour sponsored by PBS’s American Experience history series. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Freedom Rides, the May 6-16 trip kicks off in Washington, D.C. and covers eight Southern states. Read more…