Freedom Rides Anniversary, Day 2: Site Of Sit-In Prompts Moral Questions
Fifty years ago, the Freedom Riders ventured to the deep South to fight segregation on buses and in bus terminals. Now, some of the original riders are joining high school students from around the city on a bus ride to retrace their historic route. After leaving New York Friday, they will end up in Jackson, Mississippi, with stops at key civil rights sites in between. NY1's Budd Mishkin filed the following report.
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Saturday morning the trip to Jackson, Mississippi, started at yet another historic site -- Greensboro, N.C. More specifically, the former Woolworth's Building, where four students staged a sit-in in February 1960 to desegregate lunch counters. Sit-ins then spread across the South.
The students got a tour of the building, which is now a museum. I asked them to put themselves in the shoes of the protesters in 1960.
"Most likely I would have said yes, because I'm a hard-core woman. I'm strong and I'm independent and my mom raised me well," said Deanna Ford of Innovation High School.
"I would have been honored to do it, to know the history of what we've been through, what happened to African-Americans. I would take that opportunity to become a hero," said Michael Wilson of Boys and Girls High School.
"I would feel really scared, but then I'd know that I'd be doing something to help change the laws and hopefully change people's perspectives on race in America," said Minah Whyte of Renaissance Charter High School.
The trip to the museum again brought up a question that's been discussed on the bus about the Freedom Rides since we left New York Friday morning. When faced with a moral wrong and danger, would we have gone?
"I would have been scared, but I think you have to be courageous. If you really believe in change, you have to push forward with it," said Shane King of Hunter College School.
"I wouldn't have went because I would have been scared for my life," said Ryan White of Renaissance Charter High School.
"I was talking with Donna, the Freedom Rider we have with us, and she said anyone could have done what we did. I don't know how much I agree with that. I really think it takes a special kind of person to do something like that," said Kadin Wisniewski of Renaissance Charter High School.
Saturday's journey included a stop in Atlanta and then on to another historic site from the civil rights movement -- Birmingham, Alabama.