Local Freedom Rider says today strikes an emotional chord
(SHREVEPORT, La.) Shreveport native David Dennis says today is especially poignant.
Dennis was one of the original members of the 1961 Freedom Riders.
The Freedom Riders made national headlines when a group of people from around the country boarded buses boycotting a Supreme Court ruling, declaring interstate segregation on bus and rail unconstitutional.
Dennis joined the movement as a student in New Orleans.
The plan was to start in Washington D.C. and end in New Orleans.
The first bus was stopped when it was bombed in Anniston, Alabama. Dennis says his group met up with other riders on the second bus in Montgomery.
He said his group held an all-night meeting with Dr. King and other top civil right leaders.
The group discussed whether to continue the ride and whether Dr. King should join them. Dennis says that at the time, Dr. King was on probation for a minor traffic violation.
And although King wanted to join them, the decision was made to continue the ride without him. He says once in Montgomery, they were met by an angry lynch mob, yelling racial slurs with children in their arms.
“I started questioning how can this be real—this can’t be America. All we wanted to do was to go in and exercise our right to be an American. After that day, I decided I needed to devote part my life to making democracy real.”
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