August 6, 2020

UMW Community Works with City on Freedom Rides Historical Marker

Last fall, UMW students and city residents retraced the route of the Freedom Rides, the historic protest to desegregate interstate travel, organized by James Farmer. Members of the UMW community are working with the City to establish a historic marker on the site of the old bus station in Fredericksburg, the Freedom Riders' first stop on their 1961 trip. Photo by Lynda Allen.

Last fall, UMW students and city residents retraced the route of the Freedom Rides, the historic protest to desegregate interstate travel, organized by James Farmer. Members of the UMW community are working with the City to establish a historic marker on the site of the old bus station in Fredericksburg, the Freedom Riders’ first stop on their 1961 trip. Photo by Lynda Allen.

James Farmer Multicultural Center Assistant Director Chris Williams, Assistant Professor of History Erin Devlin and Assistant Professor of Historic Preservation Christine Henry were interviewed in The Free Lance-Star about their efforts to work with the City of Fredericksburg to establish a Virginia state historical marker at the site of the old bus station where the Freedom Riders stopped first in their quest to desegregate interstate transportation in 1961. The station formerly stood on the corner of Princess Anne and Wolfe streets, near where the fire station is now.

Some of the riders were arrested in North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi. In Anniston, Ala., a mob of Ku Klux Klan members slashed the bus’s tires as it attempted to leave the terminal, and later threw a firebomb at it.

UMW students and staff and community members visited the field where the bombing occurred last fall, as part of a trip recreating the journey of the Freedom Riders.

“To our surprise, there was no marker out there. No historical marker saying that right here, the original 13 Freedom Riders were fire-bombed,” said Chris Williams, assistant director of UMW’s James Farmer Multicultural Center, which organized the trip. “I was enraged and so were the students.”

Back home in Fredericksburg, Williams was still thinking about ways the story of the Freedom Riders and James Farmer could be told better—and that led to the idea of placing a highway marker at the site of the old bus station.

Williams, Devlin and Henry, in partnership with the City of Fredericksburg, have started the process of applying for the marker from the state Department of Historical Resources. Read more.

Freedom Rider to Share Story and Documentary at UMW, Feb. 3

More than 50 years ago, a 19-year-old college student named Joan Trumpauer Mulholland bought a flight to Mississippi and joined the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement. It was 1961, the year that dozens of sit-ins occurred in diners and drugstores and the same year that the Freedom Rides challenged segregated interstate bus travel in the Deep South. Mulholland, a white teenager raised in the South, was arrested and sent to prison for two months for her involvement in the protests.

Joan Mulholland, shown during a trip to UMW in 2011, will be a part of UMW's Black History Month celebration on Feb. 3.

Joan Mulholland, shown during a trip to UMW in 2011, will be a part of UMW’s Black History Month celebration on Feb. 3.

Mulholland will share her story at the University of Mary Washington on Monday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. in Lee Hall, Room 411 as part of the Black History Month celebration. The evening will begin with a showing of the new documentary, “An Ordinary Hero,” which chronicles her unlikely journey. After the documentary, Mulholland and the film’s director will lead a discussion and answer questions.

Mulholland was among the former Freedom Riders who joined UMW as it commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides in 2011 with a three-month celebration. The centerpiece of the celebration was a 1960s-era bus and exhibit of historical photos on Ball Circle.

UMW’s Black History Month celebration also will feature the following events:

  • Saturday, Feb. 1 – Black History Month Kickoff Celebration: Gospelfest
    • 3 p.m. in George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium
  • Tuesday, Feb. 4 – Great Lives Lecture: Martin Luther King Jr.
    • 7:30 p.m. in George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium
  • Thursday, Feb. 6 – Civil War to Civil Rights: Trail to Freedom Teacher Resources Toolkit
    • 7 p.m. in Lee Hall, Room 411
  • Wednesday, Feb. 12 – Black History Month Keynote Speaker: Angela Rye, principal at IMPACT Strategies and the youngest woman to serve as executive director and general counsel of the Congressional Black Caucus
    • 7 p.m. in Lee Hall, Room 411
  • Wednesday, Feb. 26 – An Evening of Jazz: A Tribute to America’s Great Black Artists
    • 7:30 p.m., Lee Hall, the Underground

All events are free and open to the public. For more information and a detailed list of events, visit http://students.umw.edu/multicultural/programs/black-history-month-celebration/.

Freedom Rider to Share Story and Documentary at UMW, Feb. 3

More than 50 years ago, a 19-year-old college student named Joan Trumpauer Mulholland bought a flight to Mississippi and joined the front lines of the Civil Rights Movement. It was 1961, the year that dozens of sit-ins occurred in diners and drugstores and the same year that the Freedom Rides challenged segregated interstate bus travel in the Deep South. Mulholland, a white teenager raised in the South, was arrested and sent to prison for two months for her involvement in the protests.

Joan Mulholland, shown during a trip to UMW in 2011, will be a part of UMW's Black History Month celebration on Feb. 3.

Joan Mulholland, shown during a trip to UMW in 2011, will be a part of UMW’s Black History Month celebration on Feb. 3.

Mulholland will share her story at the University of Mary Washington on Monday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. as part of the Black History Month celebration. The evening will begin with a showing of the new documentary, “An Ordinary Hero,” which chronicles her unlikely journey. After the documentary, Mulholland and the film’s director will lead a discussion and answer questions.

Mulholland was among the former Freedom Riders who joined UMW as it commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides in 2011 with a three-month celebration. The centerpiece of the celebration was a 1960s-era bus and exhibit of historical photos on Ball Circle.

UMW’s Black History Month celebration also will feature the following events:

  • Saturday, Feb. 1 – Black History Month Kickoff Celebration: Gospelfest
    • 3 p.m. in George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium
  • Tuesday, Feb. 4 – Great Lives Lecture: Martin Luther King Jr.
    • 7:30 p.m. in George Washington Hall’s Dodd Auditorium
  • Thursday, Feb. 6 – Civil War to Civil Rights: Trail to Freedom Teacher Resources Toolkit
    • 7 p.m. in Lee Hall, Room 411
  • Wednesday, Feb. 12 – Black History Month Keynote Speaker: Angela Rye, principal at IMPACT Strategies and the youngest woman to serve as executive director and general counsel of the Congressional Black Caucus
    • 7 p.m. in Lee Hall, Room 411
  • Wednesday, Feb. 26 – An Evening of Jazz: A Tribute to America’s Great Black Artists
    • 7:30 p.m., Lee Hall, the Underground

All events are free and open to the public. For more information and a detailed list of events, visit http://students.umw.edu/multicultural/programs/black-history-month-celebration/.

UMW Receives International Award for Freedom Rides Tribute

The University of Mary Washington has been recognized with the prestigious international “Grand Gold” Circle of Excellence Award by the Council of Advancement and Support for Education (CASE) for its 2011 tribute to James Farmer and the 1960s Freedom Rides.

UMW received the top award in the special events category and was one of only 19 institutions receiving the “grand gold” award for exceptional entries. CASE received more than 2,800 entries in 40 categories from 567 member institutions, independent schools and nonprofit organizations around the world. The International Circle of Excellence awards program distinguishes outstanding work in advancement services, alumni relations, communications, fundraising and marketing. The work was judged by peer professionals as well as those from outside the educational arena.

Simeon Booker and Reginald Green sit in front of student exhibit

“In the marking of an event that changed the course of history, I’m thrilled that the rest of the world now recognizes what I long have believed: the University of Mary Washington mounted the greatest tribute possible to James Farmer and the Freedom Rides,” said President Richard V. Hurley. “Nothing has made me prouder.”

UMW launched one of the most comprehensive institution-wide projects in the history of the university to honor the legacy of James Farmer, a former UMW professor who was the architect of the Freedom Rides that challenged the segregation of public transportation throughout the South. The semester-long commemoration centered on a 1960s-era bus embellished with historical photos of the 1961 Freedom Rides and featured guest lecturers, student exhibits and a limited-release showing of the PBS documentary “Freedom Riders.” The tribute culminated with commencement addresses by former Freedom Riders, U.S. Representatives Bob Filner and John Lewis, who applauded the university’s efforts. Said Lewis, “No other university—no other college—in America is pausing like you have to celebrate and commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides.”  In addition, UMW hosted a stop by the PBS “American Experience” bus carrying college-age students—including UMW student Charles Reed—retracing the route of the first Freedom Ride.

Charles Reed '11

A UMW Freedom Rides website chronicled the celebration, and UMW published a special “Freedom Rides” edition of the UMW Magazine. The events attracted national media attention and brought thousands of visitors to the Fredericksburg campus.

For more information about the CASE award, go to www.case.org/Award_Programs/Circle_of_Excellence/2012_Winners/Special_Events_2012.html.

UMW to Host Freedom Riders during March 30-April 1 Events

The University of Mary Washington will host a panel of Freedom Riders for a Great Lives Lecture Series discussion on Thursday, March 31 as part of three days of events honoring the 1961 Freedom Rides that challenged segregated interstate bus travel in the Deep South.

Freedom Riders Charles Person and Catherine Burks-Brooks will be joined by fellow riders Reginald Green and Joan Trumpauer Mulholland at 7:30 p.m. on March 31 in George Washington Hall, Dodd Auditorium, for a conversation led by Raymond Arsenault, author of “Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice.”

Charles Person, then an 18-year-old Morehouse College freshman and the youngest member of the original Freedom Ride, was one of the most badly beaten riders during the May 14, 1961 riot at the Birmingham, Ala., Trailways bus station. Catherine Burks-Brooks, then a 21-year-old Tennessee State University student, found herself in the May 20, 1961 riot at the Montgomery, Ala., Greyhound bus station and the next day at the siege of Montgomery’s First Baptist Church.

Other highlights of the March 30-April 1 events include the March 30 talk “Lessons of the Civil Rights Generation for Today’s Students” by Andy Lewis, the March 30 screening of the critically acclaimed PBS film “Freedom Riders” and the April 1 UMW-Hampton University debate of the topic “Resolved: Today’s Students Wouldn’t Get on the Bus.” The student-created “Down Freedom’s Main Line” museum exhibit will be on display in the Dodd Auditorium foyer through commencement.

The university began its three-month commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides on February 6 with the Rev. Reginald Green and Joan Mulholland on hand for the unveiling of a 1960s-era bus and exhibit of historical photos of the rides led by James L. Farmer Jr., the late civil rights leader and UMW professor.

The celebration will culminate with commencement addresses by former Freedom Riders. U.S. Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.) will speak at the May 6 graduate ceremony, and U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) will deliver the address at the May 7 undergraduate ceremony. On May 8, the PBS “American Experience” bus carrying college students and Freedom Riders will make its first stop at the Fredericksburg campus on its journey from Washington, D.C. to Jackson, Miss. Forty students will be selected through a national competition to retrace the route of the original Freedom Ride.

Freedom Riders were beaten and jailed, and their buses were attacked during the rides organized by Farmer, then head of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality. Farmer taught civil rights history at Mary Washington for about a dozen years before his retirement in 1998. That year, President Bill Clinton awarded Farmer the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2010, the university launched its campaign for a U.S. postage stamp honoring Farmer.

The public is invited to the following events:

  • A talk by Andy Lewis, author of “The Shadows of Youth: The Remarkable Journey of the Civil Rights Generation,” at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, March 30, in Lee Hall, Room 411.
  • A limited-release showing of the documentary “Freedom Riders” at 7 p.m. on March 30 in Dodd Auditorium. PBS and UMW have collaborated on this special screening of the widely hailed film directed by Stanley Nelson and based on Raymond Arsenault’s book “Freedom Riders.” PBS will broadcast the film in May on “American Experience.”
  • A Freedom Riders panel discussion and Great Lives lecture at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 31, in Dodd Auditorium, featuring Arsenault leading a conversation among the Freedom Riders—Burks-Brooks, Green, Mulholland and Person.
  • A debate between UMW and Hampton University teams on the topic “Resolved: Today’s students wouldn’t get on the bus” from 3 to 4:15 p.m. on Friday, April 1 in Lee Hall, Room 411.

The public is encouraged to check periodically for event updates at http://freedomrides.umw.edu.

On May 4, 1961, when the 13 original Freedom Riders led by Farmer left Washington, D.C. on the first ride, segregation was decreed by local and state laws throughout the South, despite federal prohibition against the Jim Crow restrictions on the movements of black Americans.

The original Freedom Riders—a racially mixed group of men and women, ranging in age from 18 to 61—traveled on buses through Virginia and into the Deep South, risking their lives as they faced police brutality, vigilantes and even bombs.

Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent federal marshals to Alabama to restore order after mob violence erupted, and at one point, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. flew to Alabama to support the riders. When news of the brutality against the first rides reached the nation and the world, activists from all over the U.S. joined the effort. In all, more than 400 Freedom Riders—a majority of whom were jailed in Jackson, Miss.—traveled through the South to demand just treatment of all interstate travelers.

Freedom Rides Video

With a 40-foot-long silver bus as its central canvas, the James Farmer and the Freedom Rides exhibit carries visitors back to the spring of 1961, when a group of courageous men and women risked their lives to desegregate interstate public transportation.

This one-of-a-kind exhibition comes to life through a video, at http://freedomrides.umw.edu, produced for UMW by photographer Norm Shafer. The video incorporates footage of the arrival of the 1960s-era bus on campus and photos of the February 7 kick off of the university’s three-month celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides.

Free and open to the public through March 31, the James Farmer and the Freedom Rides exhibit allows visitors to add their voices to those of others as they ponder the question, “Would you get on the bus?” The public can post their thoughts in the comments area of this exhibition.

School groups of all ages are encouraged to visit the Fredericksburg campus and experience this unusual exhibit. James Farmer and the Freedom Rides was created by a UMW committee comprising Courtney Chapman, AJ Newell, Maria Schultz, Elisabeth Sommer, and Neva Trenis.

UMW Kicks Off Tribute to Freedom Rides, James Farmer

With a 1960s-era bus and historical photos of the 1961 Freedom Rides as a backdrop, two of the Freedom Riders urged students to apply the lessons of the civil rights movement to today’s causes, kicking off the University of Mary Washington’s semester-long tribute to the Freedom Rides.

“I hope you can find what you will step up for,” Freedom Rider Joan Trumpauer Mulholland of Arlington, Va. told the crowd of more than 600 gathered at Ball Circle. As a college student, Mulholland joined the 1961 Freedom Rides “to make my home, the South, what it could be and should be.”

Mulholland and fellow Freedom Rider Reginald Green traveled to UMW for the launch of the university’s 50th-anniversary commemoration of the 1961 rides that challenged segregated bus transportation throughout the South. The architect and leader of the rides was James L. Farmer Jr., the late civil rights leader and UMW professor.

“Now it is the challenge of all of us—young people, college students—to find some project, some issue, that you are passionate about. Maybe it’s hunger, maybe it’s ecology, maybe it’s education,” Rev. Reginald Green of Washington, D.C. told the crowd. To hearty applause, he added, “Maybe it’s the message that says we’ve come too far to turn back now.”

The university placed a 40-foot-long bus on Ball Circle to serve as a canvas for large historical photos, including images of firebombed buses and the brutal beatings of Freedom Riders by Southern mobs. Through March 31, visitors are encouraged to share their thoughts about the rides and the “Would You Get on the Bus?” exhibit, which features life-size cutouts of James Farmer, a student Freedom Rider and a National Guardsman.

“The bus and people talking about the rides put into perspective how people had to go through so much to be equal among people,” said Kellan Latif, a sophomore from Richmond. “Being here as an African American and seeing the event, I feel honored. We’re getting recognition for things we had to go through.”

Students found inspiration in the memories shared by Green and Mulholland. “It’s amazing what they put on the line to fight for freedom. I applaud them and I’m thankful for what they did,” said Julie Dymon, a senior from Spotsylvania. Aqsa Zafar, a junior from Arlington, was impressed that Mulholland drew a parallel between the civil rights struggles and the ongoing anti-government protests by Egyptian students and other activists: “It’s amazing how she made that a connection because it’s really relevant to us.”

Freedom Riders were beaten and jailed, and their buses were attacked during the rides organized by James Farmer, then head of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality. Farmer taught the history of the civil rights movement to Mary Washington students for about a dozen years before his retirement in 1998. That year, President Bill Clinton awarded Farmer the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2010, the university launched its campaign for a U.S. postage stamp honoring Farmer.

The university’s tribute to the rides will include the March 30 limited-release showing of the critically acclaimed PBS documentary “Freedom Riders.” The celebration will culminate with the May 7 commencement address by U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a Freedom Rider and civil rights leader, and a May 8 stop at UMW by the PBS “American Experience” bus carrying college-age students retracing the route of the first Freedom Ride.

The public is invited to the following events that are part of the Freedom Rides tribute, beginning during Black History Month:

• A lecture by Eric Etheridge at 7 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Great Hall, Woodard Campus Center. A journalist and photographer, Etheridge recently interviewed and photographed many of the original Freedom Riders for his book, “Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Freedom Riders.”

• An address, “Lessons of the Civil Rights Generation for Today’s Students,” by Andy Lewis, author of The Shadows of Youth: The Remarkable Journey of the Civil Rights Generation, from 3 to 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 30, in Lee Hall, room 411.

• Limited-release showing of the film “Freedom Riders” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, in Dodd Auditorium, George Washington Hall. PBS and UMW have collaborated on this special showing of the widely hailed documentary directed by Stanley Nelson. PBS will broadcast the film in May on “American Experience.”

• Freedom Riders panel discussion and Great Lives lecture at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31, in Dodd Auditorium, featuring a talk by Raymond Arsenault, author of Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice, followed by a discussion with a panel of Freedom Riders.

• UMW commencement address by Rep. Lewis, part of the ceremony at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 7 on Ball Circle. Lewis, a civil rights colleague of James Farmer and organizer of sit-ins to protest segregation, co-founded and chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a leading organization for student activism.

• Students aboard the PBS “American Experience” bus retracing the route of the first Freedom Ride will stop Sunday, May 8 at UMW in Fredericksburg, part of the original route, for a commemoration at the James Farmer memorial on Campus Walk.

Check for event updates at http://freedomrides.umw.edu. Learn about the university’s Farmer stamp campaign at http://jamesfarmer.umw.edu.

On May 4, 1961, when Farmer and the other 12 original Freedom Riders left Washington, D.C. on the first ride, segregation was decreed by local and state laws throughout the South, despite federal prohibition against the Jim Crow laws restricting the movements of black Americans.

The original Freedom Riders—a racially mixed group of men and women, ranging in age from 18 to 61—traveled on buses through Virginia and into the Deep South, risking their lives as they faced police brutality, vigilantes and even bombs.

Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent federal marshals to Alabama to restore order after mob violence erupted, and at one point, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. flew to Alabama to support the riders. When news of the brutality against the first rides reached the nation and the world, activists from all over the U.S. joined the effort. In all, more than 400 Freedom Riders—a majority of whom were jailed in Jackson, Miss.—traveled through the South to demand just treatment of all interstate travelers.

Don’t Miss It: Monday, Noon, Ball Circle

To Members of the UMW Faculty and Staff,

You probably have noticed this week the buildup to the launch of the Freedom Rides 50th Anniversary Commemoration.  I am very excited about this opportunity for us to come together as a community to honor Dr. James Farmer, who was the architect of the Freedom Rides, and to recognize the sacrifices made by those courageous individuals who put their lives on the line to transform our nation.

I write to call to your attention the kickoff activity that will occur on Monday, February 7 at noon on Ball Circle.  This will be the official unveiling of a special outdoor exhibit designed to tell the story of the Freedom Rides and to commemorate the actions the Freedom Riders took 50 years ago.  Present will be Eric Etheridge, author of the book Breach of Peace, a photo journalistic portrayal of the Freedom Riders, along with two actual Freedom Riders.

If your schedule permits, I hope you will attend this event.  I also ask you to encourage UMW students to participate.  I know that it will be a meaningful experience.

If you do plan to attend, please feel free to stop by the James Farmer Multicultural Center in Lee Hall prior to the event to pick up a free t-shirt.  A limited number of these shirts will be available on Monday.

I encourage you also to attend other events throughout the semester that will commemorate the 50th Anniversary.  You may get additional details at the following website: http://freedomrides.umw.edu

Thank you.

Richard V. Hurley
President

UMW Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Freedom Rides, James Farmer

The University of Mary Washington will launch a semester-long celebration of civil rights pioneer James Farmer and the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, Monday, Feb. 7, with a special kickoff event followed by a Freedom Rides scholar’s remarks.

The three-month tribute will feature appearances by Freedom Riders and academic scholars of race, civil rights and student activism. The March 30 limited-release showing of the critically acclaimed PBS documentary “Freedom Riders” will be among the highlights.

The celebration will culminate with a May 7 commencement address by U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a Freedom Rider, and a May 8 visit by the PBS “American Experience” bus carrying college-age students retracing the route of the first Freedom Ride.

James Farmer receives the Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton in 1998.

The 1961 Freedom Rides challenged the segregation of bus transportation throughout the Deep South. Freedom Riders were beaten and jailed, and their buses were attacked during the rides organized by James L. Farmer Jr., then head of CORE, the Congress of Racial Equality.

Farmer taught the history of the civil rights movement to Mary Washington students for about a dozen years before his retirement in 1998. That year, President Bill Clinton awarded Farmer the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2010, the university teamed with Rep. Lewis, who rode with Farmer on the Freedom Rides, to campaign for a U.S. postage stamp honoring the late Farmer.

UMW President Rick Hurley encourages the public to get involved in the university’s celebration of Farmer and the rides by participating in the scheduled activities. “I invite the entire UMW community to come together to pay tribute to the legacy of the Freedom Riders, to recognize the role of our beloved professor as one of our greatest civil rights champions, and to reflect on the lessons that they have for us today,” Hurley said.

James Farmer as photographed when arrested with the Freedom Riders in Mississippi in 1961.

The public is invited to the following events in a schedule that begins during Black History Month:

Freedom Riders celebration kickoff at noon Monday, Feb. 7, on Ball Circle and Campus Walk. Author Eric Etheridge will speak at the kickoff and he will be accompanied by two former Freedom Riders, the Rev. Reginald Green and Joan Trumpauer Mulholland.

Lecture by Eric Etheridge, author of Breach of Peace: Portraits of the 1961 Freedom Riders, at 7 p.m. Feb. 7, in the Great Hall, Woodard Campus Center. A journalist and photographer, Etheridge recently interviewed and photographed many of the original Freedom Riders for the book.

An address, “Lessons of the Civil Rights Generation for Today’s Students,” by Andy Lewis, author of The Shadows of Youth: The Remarkable Journey of the Civil Rights Generation, from 3 to 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 30, in Lee Hall, room 411.

Limited-release showing of the film “Freedom Riders” at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, in Dodd Auditorium, George Washington Hall. PBS and UMW have collaborated on this special showing of the widely hailed documentary directed by Stanley Nelson. PBS will broadcast the film in May on “American Experience.”

Freedom Riders panel discussion and Great Lives lecture at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31, in Dodd Auditorium, featuring a talk by Raymond Arsenault, author of Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice, followed by a discussion with a panel of Freedom Riders.

UMW commencement address by Rep. Lewis, part of the ceremony at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 7 on Ball Circle. Lewis, a civil rights colleague of James Farmer and organizer of sit-ins to protest segregation, co-founded and chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, a leading organization for student activism.

Students aboard the PBS “American Experience” bus retracing the route of the first Freedom Ride will stop Sunday, May 8 at UMW in Fredericksburg, part of the original route, for a commemoration at the James Farmer memorial on Campus Walk.

The public is encouraged to check periodically for event updates at http://freedomrides.umw.edu. Learn about the university’s Farmer stamp campaign at http://jamesfarmer.umw.edu.

The original 13 Freedom Riders, including Farmer, boarded a bus in Washington, D.C., on May 4, 1961. The racially mixed group of men and women, ranging in age from 18 to 61, traveled through Virginia and into the Deep South, where segregation was decreed by local and state laws. The Freedom Riders risked their lives as they faced police brutality, vigilantes and even bombs.

Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent federal marshals to Alabama to restore order after mob violence erupted, and at one point, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. flew to Alabama to support the riders. When news of the brutality against the first rides reached the nation and the world, buses from all over the U.S. joined the effort. In all, more than 400 Freedom Riders—a majority of whom were jailed in Jackson, Miss.—traveled through the South to demand just treatment of all interstate travelers.

UMW Students Can Compete to Recreate Freedom Rides

The Public Broadcasting Service is soliciting applications from college students to recreate the 1961 civil rights bus rides organized by Dr. James Farmer that led to desegregation of transportation in the South. Forty students will be chosen to trace the route of the Freedom Riders from Washington, D.C., to Jackson, Miss., May 6-16, 2011.

“We’ve got a number of really well qualified students and we want to encourage as many as possible to apply,” said Tim O’Donnell, associate professor of communication. Applications are being accepted  at www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/freedomriders/. The ride  also is promoting a documentary film, “Freedom Riders, which will be shown on campus next spring and on PBS on May 16, 2011.