We headed to the Alabama capital Wednesday morning retracing the historic route voting rights marchers took from Selma to Montgomery in 1965.
From Martin Luther King Jr.’s home to where he preached, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, we visited sites of the civil rights era. Our first stop was a meeting with the staff of the Freedom Rides Museum. The museum opened in 2011 and is housed in the Greyhound Bus Station where an angry white mob attacked Freedom Riders on May 20, 1961.
On the walls of the museum hung portraits of 1961 Freedom Riders jailed in Mississippi’s Parchman Prison. Hundreds were arrested in Jackson, Miss., that summer on charges of breaching the peace with their effort to desegregate Southern facilities. The exhibit features both their mug shot from Parchman and a modern-day photo taken by photographer Eric Etheridge for his 2008 book “Breach of Peace.”
We chatted with the staff about how the work we’re doing for our ongoing Civil Conversations project can enhance their museum. As a group we are encouraged our suggestions were well received and are all quite excited about this opportunity to share our work and the stories of the Freedom Riders we have interviewed. If all goes well, our interviews with Freedom Riders William Harbour, Ed Kale and Henry, “Hank” Thomas will hang on the museum walls by the end of the year.