Ep. 68 - Living History with Freedom Rider Charles Person


Manage episode 300796015 series 2849865
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In this episode of Book Dreams, Julie and Eve talk with Charles Person, the youngest and only surviving member of the original Freedom Riders. In May of 1961, thirteen men and women in Washington, D.C. boarded two public buses headed for New Orleans, to test whether states across the South were abiding by the Supreme Court’s recent decision forbidding segregation in bus depots, waiting areas, restaurants, and restrooms. Charles was only eighteen at the time. Now, six decades later, he recounts the day his fight for racial equity and justice nearly cost him and his fellow Riders their lives.

The author of the recently released Buses Are a Comin’: Memoir of a Freedom Rider, Charles tells Eve and Julie how his early experiences with systemic racism led him to become active in the civil rights movement and get on board the bus. Charles also gives vivid and vital oral testimony about the murderous attacks on the Freedom Riders by Klansmen and other white supremacists in Alabama. Those Freedom Riders included some of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement: Congressman John Lewis, Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) Director James Farmer, CORE Field Secretary Genevieve Hughes, Reverend Benjamin Elting Cox, and writer and pacifist James Peck.

After the Freedom Ride, Charles joined the Marines and served for twenty years, including nine months in Vietnam. Today, he lives in Atlanta, where he is a sought-after public speaker.

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