Black News, Entertainment, Style and Culture - HuffPost Black Voices
iOS app Android app More
August 29, 2014

Hillary Breaks Silence On Ferguson

Hillary Clinton
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Amber Alert: 6-Week-Old Baby Kidnapped At Gunpoint

Delano Wilson
Handout

5 Reasons Why Black Lives Matter

Ferguson Michael
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Former USC Football Player Accuses Coach Of Being Racist

Anthony Brown Usc
Jonathan Moore via Getty Images

New Lifetime Show Will Make You Cringe

Girlfriend Intervention
Richard Knapp / Lifetime

Alumni Rally Round NYC's Top Public Schools That Admit Very Few Blacks

Stuyvesant High School
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Obama vs. Bush: Who Took More Presidential Vacations?

George W Bush Obama
SAUL LOEB via Getty Images

Ferguson Children Sent Inspiring And Educational Gift

Black Kid Abc
Wavebreakmedia Ltd via Getty Images

Newspaper Under Fire For Incredibly Racist Headline

You7
TWITTER/Hossam

Privileged White Guys On Fox News Agree: There's No Such Thing As White Privilege

Bill Oreilly Sean Hannity
Fox News

Long-Simmering Anger Over Police Violence Erupts At St. Louis Forum

Stlouis
Mariah Stewart/The Huffington Post

Most New Yorkers Want To See Criminal Charges In Eric Garner's Death

Eric Garner
STAN HONDA via Getty Images

Study's Disturbing Findings About How The Media Covers Race

Nypd
Spencer Platt via Getty Images

Police Officer Accused Of Letting Dog Urinate On Michael Brown Memorial

Michael Brown Memorial
Joe Raedle via Getty Images

Attorney Alleges Police Cover-Up In Handcuffed Man's Shooting Death

Victor White
White Family

Study Suggests Why Black Moms Breastfeed Less Than White Moms

Mother Hospital
Ariel Skelley via Getty Images

Cops Shot Ohio Man 'On Sight' At Walmart: Attorney

Joe Crawford Iii
H/O

In Wake Of Ferguson, Police Departments Try To Build Trust With Black Residents

Ferguson Police Department
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Race Seen Through Viewfinders

Black Photographer
Frederick Bass via Getty Images

"My Dad's Legacy Is On The Line"

Bernice King
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Follow HuffPost

    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. Most Popular on HuffPost
    2. Latest News
    3. Black Voices
    4. View all RSS feeds

WATCH
SWV Singer Discovers Devastating News

Swv
WE TV

Beyonce Holds A Chanel #Surfbort In CR Fashion Book

Beyonce Fashion Book Cover
Pierre Debusschere

Colbert: Why Can't Black People Can't Be More Like Cliven Bundy?

Colbert Ferguson Cliven Bundy
Comedy Central

Jeezy Pleads Not Guilty

Young Jeezy
Tim Mosenfelder via Getty Images

Mathew Knowles Says Beyonce, Jay Z Divorce Talk Is 'Jedi Mind Trick'

Beyonce Jay Z
MTV/MTV1415 via Getty Images

Tim Howard Talks U.S. Soccer, His Favorite World Cup Meme And Helping Kids Conquer Tourette's

Tim Howard
ASSOCIATED PRESS

'I Gotta Find A Place Where They Don't Kill Black People, Jon'

Daily Show Ferguson Michael Che
Comedy Central

Iyanla Vanzant's Intense 36-Hour Visit To Ferguson

Iyanla Vanzant Ferguson Missouri
OWN

BET Suspends Producer For Making A Joke About Blue Ivy

Blue Ivy
ROBYN BECK via Getty Images

Beverly Hills Cops Arrest Black TV Producer Who They Thought Robbed A Bank

Charles Belk
Charles Belk's Facebook

Oprah's Next Movie Role Is Here!!!

Oprah
Ida Mae Astute via Getty Images

Rastafarian Student Reportedly Punished At School Over Dreadlocks

Dreadlocks
Photodisc via Getty Images

Jennifer Hudson Responds To Lesbian Rumors

Jennifer Hudson Lesbian Rumors
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Little Girl Channels Beyoncé And It's ***Flawless

Cece Show Beyonce
Vine

5 Reasons Keke Palmer Is Having The Best Year Ever

Keke Fp Image
Bennett Raglin/BET via Getty Images

Array

In the Valley of the Shadow of Freedom Riders

Comments (16)


Yesterday morning, as I stood across from where it all began at 1100 New York Avenue in Washington, D.C., and watched as the college kids linked arms with their elders and sang freedom songs -- 'The Buses are a-coming, The buses are a-coming, the buses are a-coming, Oh Yeah.'

And I wondered for a moment, would I or could I have gotten on that bus 50 years earlier?Would I have been brave or insane enough to take on an entire system built on hating my black skin? Could I have taken the barbs, beatings and constant shouts of "nigger"? Could I have been non-violent when every bone in my body would have wanted to fight back, to possibly kill?

I already knew the answer.

As a younger man, I'd found my manhood and to a degree, my sense of blackness, in Malcolm X, our shining black prince who taught us the kind of self-love and respect that meant violent self-defense if need be. What's good for the goose, he said, is good for the gander.

So, I already know where I would have stood -- likely with my own pipe or bat, at least a fist full of rage.

On that grassy knoll, across from that old bus station, the song and the thought had faded and soon we were piling on to a bus, headed into the Deep South. This was the Freedom Ride 2011 style.

This time the ride is a retracing of history, a war reenactment, minus the mobs and beatings. Instead of the Congress On Racial Equality pooling resources and raising money to support the riders, PBS is picking up the bill, part celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides, part marketing and PR for its documentary 'Freedom Riders' by Stanley Nelson that premiers May 16 on PBS.

There will likely be no firebombing of the bus or attacks by rabid hooligans this time. I hope not at least, after all, young men are still coming up dead in Mississippi. Suicide, one recent news account attributed the death of a young man found hanging under mysterious circumstances. So much of that dirt hallowed ground, drenched in the blood and sweat of centuries of black men and women.

Young men like LeRoy Ford, 19, a student at the University of Nebraska, were eager and anxious, gracious in the way so many of these young people seem to be.

His road to the day had been anything but easy, but his eloquence belies the triumph of will and intellect that so many of these students, black and white, have faced to achieve astounding levels of growth and academic success. He came from a tough neighborhood in Kansas City. His mother died when he was eight months old. His father was locked up most of his youth. Few in his family ever talked much about race or the bad old days. His grandmother grew up in an all-black neighborhood -- every lunch counter was a black lunch counter. Racism was felt but rarely seen.

"It has become so real now," he said settling into his seat on the bus. "They got on the bus not knowing if they would ever make it back. It's amazing because they are unsung heroes. But they are true American heroes. To sit with them, to talk and eat dinner with them. It's an extreme honor."

Another young man, Charles Reed Jr., from Jersey City, New Jersey and as of Saturday a graduate of the University of Mary Washington, in Fredericksburg, Virginia, skipped his graduation to join the riders.

"The first thing I thought about was the sacrifice of missing graduation is nothing compared to the sacrifices of the Freedom Riders who dropped out of school, left their families to go into the Deep South with the fear and the real thought that they might be killed," he said. "That's real courage, not being unafraid but doing what needs to be done in spite of that fear."

Soon we were heading down Route 1 from D.C., through the heart of the old Confederacy, to Fredericksburg, Lynchburg, Richmond and Farmville, Virginia, much like our predecessors had half a century earlier.

I imagine the scene was much the same those days, the placid, tree-lined brooks and hills hugging the sides of the road. We were traveling through the Black Belt, passing the old gas stations and markets, the occasional strip mall plopped throughout and in between. Again, hallowed ground.

In the coming days I'll be telling stories from the road, of the Freedom Riders and students and people we meet along the way. As you join me, ask yourself a question. Would you have gotten on the bus?

Comments: (15)

Add a comment

Page 1 of 2

Most Commented Articles

Daily Drama

The Best Clips From TV's Hottest Shows


More Daily Drama >>

Get Closer to BV

  • slider Image
  • slider Image
  • slider Image

BLACK MUSIC NEWS
The latest news and updates on a multitude of music stars.
Check It Out!

BLACK MUSIC NOTES

       

MEN OF MCCAFÉ SEARCH
McDonald's continues its nationwide search to find five community-service minded black men during this year's CIAA tournament.


LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD MEN

       
 

Find a Message Board

Discover conversations on everyone from Barack to Beyonce. There are nearly 50 forums, so click on a category below and find the right one for you.