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Posts Tagged ‘ William Dale ’

Day 9: Will Dale

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

Day 6: A-Rollin’ Towards a Beloved Community

Saturday, May 14th, 2011

By Will Dale

The bus’ wheels are a-turnin’ to the rhythm of our freedom songs. They turn round, round, and round.  The bus’ wheels are a-rollin’ down this highway, spreading our mission and the Freedom Ride story. They spin, spin, and spin around. These wheels are constantly turning, turning, and turning – a-takin’ us down South, our destination.

This notion of a destination struck me this morning as we pulled out of Anniston. To me, a destination is the ultimate end and purpose to what we seek to be realized. The original thirteen Freedom Riders’ intended destination was New Orleans, yet they were hindered by the violence they encountered in the Deep South. As a result, their mission evolved from their journey to New Orleans to the start of a movement that challenged social and legal norms in the South.

The belief in a destination is seen throughout the civil rights movement, most commonly conceptualized in the ideas of freedom and justice. Dr. Martin Luther King often spoke of the “Beloved Community” as one of his ultimate destinations. In this “beloved community,” the formerly oppressed seek to reconcile with their former oppressors. This community would be characterized by the ideals of justice, freedom, and unity. Dr. King’s “Beloved Community” has yet to be realized, but that is why the student freedom riders are here.

Over the last few days on the bus, the other student freedom riders and I have had trouble coming up with our own destination. In this destination, we can find our purpose and future, and I think that the current state and future of civic engagement and social activism lies in this search for this destination. I think we can find our mission in the history of our past, our actions in the present, and the events of the future.

For now, we continue towards Nashville and on to New Orleans. We will also carry on our journey towards our own destination, our own purpose. It is impossible to see what impact we will have on the world in five, ten, or fifty years. But if my predictions are right, I know we will keep the wheels of change a-turnin’, a-rollin’, and a-takin’ us towards our own vision of the Beloved Community.

Day 4: Will Dale

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

Day 1: A New Spark

Sunday, May 8th, 2011

By William Dale

A spark. That’s all it takes. It takes a spark to start a bus, ignite a movement, to produce change. In the blazing summer of 1961, the Freedom Riders started that ignition, becoming a vehicle that drove the U.S. Civil Rights Movement to audiences across the world. Their mission: to fight segregation in inter-state travel in the deepest, darkest parts of the Deep South.

The Freedom Riders were extraordinary, ordinary people that faced extreme adversity and hardship. Over the past two days in D.C., I have met so many of these brave and heroic people. One rider, in particular, has been my hero ever since I learned of the Freedom Riders’ struggle. Her name is Diane Nash.

In our conversation with Nash, she explained Gandhi’s principles of non-violence.  “Truth, love, and self-suffering…” she explained. “These principles were the basis of the Freedom Rides.” The journey towards truth is essential in the fight for freedom and justice, Nash said, and the search for truth influenced every decision she made during the summer of 1961. Nash’s second principle of love lays out the core of the non-violent movement. She loved her fellow riders, and she cared for their white, southern attackers.  Nash cared for them so much that she wanted them to right their wrongs and carry out peace.

But it is the final principle of self-suffering that stuck out to me the most. The Freedom Riders were attacked by mobs, and their buses were firebombed. They risked their lives and signed their last will and testaments before “getting on the bus.” News of the treacherous rides traveled across the world, shining a spotlight onto the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

Their dedication to the cause, however, makes me wonder if my generation has this same passion and commitment. I have never seen my peers physically fighting off their oppressors. I have never run for my life off of a burning bus, and I am not risking my life by posting my opinion on this blog. Things have changed.

Fifty years after the original Rides, the state of social activism and civic engagement has evolved, primarily through the social media boom. Engagement and social media are two streams that constantly intersect. You can connect to millions of people on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. The traditional activist is now fighting for change and justice on the web. Two questions, however, still bother me: “How will this change in activism affect the basic principles of truth, love, and self-suffering? Would our generation be able to ‘get on the bus?” These are the questions I hope to find answers to on the Student Freedom Ride, and in these answers, I hope to find my inspiration to ignite a new “spark.”

Community Toolbox

Friday, May 6th, 2011

The Freedom Rides: 50 Years Later

As summer nears, many college students are planning road trips, but few will have the same significance as the one that William Dale, a University of Kansas freshman, will embark on with 39 other college students. On May 6, 40 students from across the country will be undertaking a journey to retrace the stops of the Freedom Rides, fifty years later. In 1961, more than 400 black and white civil rights activists boarded buses and embarked on a journey from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans to test Boynton v. Virginia, a Supreme Court decision that made segregation illegal in the public transportation that crossed state lines. During their journey, they encountered mobs, physical assault and imprisonment, and in fact, because of the violence from the Ku Klux Klan and other supremacy groups, the original riders never reached their intended destination. Read more… William Dale on Oprah

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Freshman to Appear Today on Oprah
By Aleese Kopf

Not many KU students can say they have been on Oprah. Not many students can say they have met a true American hero. Today, William Dale, a freshman from Topeka, will meet both.

Dale is scheduled to appear on the Oprah Winfrey Show covering the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders. He is one of only 40 college students from around the country to join original Freedom Riders in retracing the 1961 Rides from Washington, DC to New Orleans, LA. Originally, more than 400 black and white civil rights activists rode on public buses to protest against segregations laws in the South. Dale is also one of only a handful of the 40 students selected to appear on Oprah. Read more…

The Topeka Capital-Journal

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011

Social Activism Topic of Freedom Ride
By Corey Jones

Will Dale, a freshman at The University of Kansas, cares deeply about education and education reform. Thanks to a national competition, he now can share his views, learn from others and engage in social activism rhetoric along a more than 1,000-mile adventure.

The 19-year-old Topekan will join 39 other students from across the nation this week for the 2011 Student Freedom Ride. The event is being organized by the PBS series “American Experience.” Read more…

Kansas City Star

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

Students Retrace the Civil Rights Freedom Rides of the 1960s
by Donald Bradley

Early morning on Friday, LeRoy Ford of Kansas City will “get on the bus.”

That’s the phrase used for the 2011 Freedom Ride to mark the 50 years since college students boarded buses in Washington, D.C., to travel into the Deep South to challenge segregation laws. Read more…

Student Rider: William Dale

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

University of Kansas
Lawrence, KS
Hometown: Topeka, KS

Watch the full episode. See more Freedom Riders.