Black News, Entertainment, Style and Culture - HuffPost Black Voices
iOS app Android app More
October 21, 2014

Missouri Gov Forms Commission To Look At Ferguson Unrest

Jay Nixon
ASSOCIATED PRESS

How 'Hip-Hop, As Usual, Is Ahead Of The Game'

Wiz Khalifa
Frazer Harrison via Getty Images

Labor Secretary: Lack Of Paid Parental Leave In U.S. Is Embarrassing

Labor Secretary Tom Perez
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Missouri State Senator Arrested During Ferguson Protests

Jamilah Nasheed
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Boko Haram Clashes Rage On Despite Ceasefire Reports

Boko Haram
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Obama Has Perfect Reaction To Woman's Jealous Boyfriend

Barack Obama
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI via Getty Images

Ebola Cases Rise Sharply In Western Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Shonda Rhimes Shuts Down Tweeter Who's Upset With Gay Sex Scenes

Shonda Rhimes
Frederick M. Brown via Getty Images

Skip Bayless Made Outrageous Claim About Kobe Bryant

Skip Bayless
Laura Cavanaugh via Getty Images

NYPD Still Arresting Large Number Of Minorities For Minor Marijuana Offenses

De Blasio
Andrew Burton via Getty Images

Wyoming Attorney General Says Gay Marriages Can Begin On Tuesday

Rainbow Flag
Getty

Urgency of Now: Why We Must Vote

Black Voter Turnout 2012
Getty

Cam'ron Is Selling The 'Fashionable' Ebola Masks You Never Asked For

Camron Ebola Mask
Dipsetusa.com

Man On Death Row Because In Texas, Being Black Means You're Dangerous?

Black Man Prison
Erika Kyte via Getty Images

Michael Rapaport Squashes Beef With Spike Lee

Michael Rapaport Spike Lee
James Devaney via Getty Images

Can Rand Paul Get 30 Percent Of The Black Vote In 2016?

Rand Paul
ASSOCIATED PRESS

How Becoming The First African NBA General Manager Inspires Masai Ujiri To Give Back

Nba Cares
NBA

Reggae Legend John Holt Dies

John Holt Reggae
David Corio via Getty Images

Nigeria Is Officially Ebola-Free After Containing Virus

Ebola Nigeria
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI via Getty Images

Why Are Black Women Dying of Breast Cancer, Even Though More White Women Are Diagnosed?

Tiffany Jones Pink
Andrew H. Walker via Getty Images

40 Contemporary African Artists Take On Dante's 'Divine Comedy'

Wangechi

For Battered NFL Wives, A Message From The Cops And The League

Ray Rice Janay
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Congressional Hearing On Ebola Was 'Shameful,' Janet Napolitano Says

Capitol
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Russian Tennis Czar Insults Williams Sisters

Serena Venus Williams
Elsa via Getty Images

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Pens Scathing Dissent On Texas Voter ID Law

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
The Washington Post via Getty Images

Liberian Leader Warns Ebola Risks Causing A 'Lost Generation'

Ebola Liberia
John Moore via Getty Images

Obama Moves Into Campaign Mode

Obama
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Joanne Borgella Dies At 32

Joanne Borgella
Neilson Barnard via Getty Images

Why Vonderrit Myers Matters

Vonderrit Myers Family
Scott Olson via Getty Images

NIH Official: Budget Cuts Can't Be Blamed For Lack Of Ebola Vaccine

Ebola Outbreak
ZOOM DOSSO via Getty Images

Michael Dunn Sentenced To Life In Prison

Michael Dunn
ASSOCIATED PRESS

I Am a Liberian. I Am Not a Virus.

I Am Liberia
Let Girls Lead

Darren Wilson Says He Feared For His Life: Report

Michael Brown
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

Supreme Court Allows Texas Voter ID Law

Supremes
Getty

Stacey Dash: Minorities Feel 'Worthless,' 'Uneducated' Under Obama

Stacey Dash
YouTube

Greatest Magazine Cover Of 2014?

Lupita
Courtesy

Cliven Bundy Challenges Eric Holder In Video Endorsing Black Congressional Candidate

Cliven Bundy
David Becker via Getty Images

Nigerian Girls' Hometown Cautiously Hopeful For Their Release

Chibok
PIUS UTOMI EKPEI via Getty Images

Kobe Bryant Calls ESPN 'A Bunch Of Idiots'

Kobe Bryant
Jeff Gross via Getty Images

Stop And Frisk Linked To Trauma And Anxiety In Young Men

Stop And Frisk
ASSOCIATED PRESS

From Civil War In Sudan To The Silver Screen

Ger Duany Emmanuel Jal
Eric Charbonneau/Invision/AP

Still No Charges 3 Months After Eric Garner's Chokehold Death

Eric Garner
STAN HONDA via Getty Images

Facebook Fight Allegedly Led To 3-Year-Old's Fatal Shooting

Amiracle Williams
WDIV-TV

GOP Congressman Gets Boost From Racially Charged Ad

Ashford
NRCC

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

'Racism Insurance' Is The Full Coverage Policy A LOT Of People Need

Racism Insurance
YouTube / Dear White People

London Richards Is Your New R&B Obsession

London Richards
Jared Thomas

Diddy And Nas Set For Alicia Keys' Annual Black Ball

Diddy And Nas
Richard Bord via Getty Images

WATCH:
Baby Spinach Has Never Sounded More Hardcore

Ice Cube
ABC

'Saturday Night Live' Gets More Diverse

Leslie Jones Nbc
NBC

Wyatt Cenac Describes His 'Physical Altercation' With An 'SNL' Cast Member

Wyatt Cenac
Mike Coppola via Getty Images

Kerry Washington Talks 'Awkward' 'Scandal' Sex Scenes

Allure Photo
Carter Smith

For The Love Of God, People, Do Not Dress Up As Ray Rice For Halloween

Ray Rice
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Macy Gray: 'I Was A Massive A**hole'

Macy Gray On Where Are They Now
OWN

Afroman: 'After Marijuana Is Legalized, I'm Not A Criminal'

Afroman
HuffPost Live

16 Times Floyd Mayweather Jr. Bragged About Having More Money Than You

Floyd Mayweather
Dan Harr/Invision/AP

North West Heads To A Pumpkin Patch In Leather Pants

North West Pumpkin Patch
Instagram

Tyra Banks Proves You Can Be A Feminist And A Runway Model

Tyra Banks
Michael Tran via Getty Images

Beyonce Dons A Floral Romper For Night Out With Adele

Beyonce
Keith Hewitt via Getty Images

Jada Pinkett Smith Brought A Man On A Leash To Her 'Gotham' Audition

Jada Pinkett Smith
Nomi Ellenson via Getty Images

'SNL' Nails Important Point About Aid Programs In Africa In Hilarious Sketch

Saturday Night Live 39 Cents
Saturday Night Live / YouTube

Drake Shoots Hoops, Becomes Jimmy From 'Degrassi' Again

Drake
C Flanigan via Getty Images

LeBron James Returns To Akron

Lebron
Beats by Dr. Dre

Here Are The Most Progressive 2 Minutes Of TV This Season

Viola Davis How To Get Away With Murder
Craig Sjodin via Getty Images

Jordin Sparks Wants You To See Her Without Makeup

Jordin Sparks
Slaven Vlasic via Getty Images

How One Artist Is Single-Handedly Changing The Way We See Death Row

Elkins

WATCH
Chris Rock's New Movie Gets A Really Funny Trailer

Top Five Trailer
Paramount

Sheryl Lee Ralph Breaks Down Her 24th Annual 'DIVAS Simply Singing!'

Sheryl Lee Ralph
Paul Archuleta via Getty Images

Iggy Finally Gets An Apology From Snoop Dogg

Iggy Azalea
Gary Miller via Getty Images

PHOTOS
Fly Rudeboys Remind Us What Cool Looks Like

Bevan Agyeman
Dean Chalkley

Nick Cannon Responds To Amber Rose Relationship Rumors

Nick Cannon
Tommaso Boddi via Getty Images

Let Kerry Washington Be Your Guide To 'No Makeup' Makeup

Kerry Washington
Instagram

The Best Worst Answer Ever On 'Family Feud'

Penis
Family Feud

'Real Housewives Of Atlanta' Star Confirms Pending Divorce To Husband

Phaedra Parks
ELLEN

Freedom Ride 2011: Day 3

Comments (8)


CHARLOTTE -- As tears tumbled down the old man's face, he wrapped his arms around the young man and held him close, so close that his gray beard bristled against his cheek.

The young man closed his eyes and took a deep breath.

And so did I, from where I stood a few feet away.

"I didn't want to let him go," Bakhrom Ismoilov said, a few minutes later. "I felt like, a fatherly love. The last time I got a hug from my own father was a long time ago, when I was very small."

Ismoilov and the old man, J. Charles Jones (pictured) stood in the middle of the basement cafeteria at the United House of Prayer for All People in Charlotte, North Carolina on Tuesday morning (May 10), and shared something familiar, yet so very far away.

And it looked like fatherly love, too.

I don't think I ever shared such a moment with my own father, let alone a stranger. This kind of embrace between the men in my family is usually reserved for weddings or funerals, not a random Tuesday morning.

But truth be told, this meeting was anything but random.

Ismoilov, 22, is an exchange student from Tajikistan studying at Eastern Oregon University, and since Sunday he has been traveling with 39 other college students and nearly a half-dozen original Freedom Riders recreating their courageous journey into the Deep South some 50 years earlier.

Jones, who lives in Charlotte, is a legend of the Civil Rights Movement, a pioneer of the sit-ins, a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and one of the more than 400 Freedom Riders who challenged the Jim Crow laws of the day. These days Jones is a lion in winter -- his roar still the protest and freedom songs that spill from his lips in long waves with laughter and sometimes tears.

"This is a blessing, man. This is a spiritual connection with the ancestors, with the slaves working 12 and 15 hours a day hoping that at some point we'd be here in this way," Jones said. "How can I not reflect and let it flow through to each and every one of you."

"And I don't care if I got tears in my eyes," he said. "I'm 73 years old and I don't have to be macho on nothing. But maybe this is the highest macho, when you can let your tears flow every now and then."


When he pulled away from Ismoilov, he whispered something into his ear, and then went on to embrace the other young men and women who by then had gathered around him.

"Everything he has been through was in his eyes," Ismoilov said. "And when he hugged me I just felt all these feelings like, I was feeling those experiences."

Back in Tajikistan, Ismoilov's own father is an out-of-work entrepreneur, and his mother, a pediatrician, started a small pharmacy. It has been a very long time since he has seen them -- Ismoilov has been traveling the world since he was 15, the globe has been his classroom. His parents are proud, he said. They have good reason to be.

That day in the church basement, I watched as Ismoilov and student after student fell into Jones's arms. I listened as he lead them in old freedom songs and, I watched them cry. And I saw what could only be described as love. I'm convinced it was what Freedom Rider Diane Nash called "agapic energy."

I wonder if Jones felt any of that same energy back in late January of 1961, when he joined a group of nine students from Friendship Junior College in nearby Rock Hill, South Carolina, later known as the Friendship Nine, at a prison work farm after they'd been arrested during a sit-in at a segregated lunch counter. In refusing bail, they forced the jailers to foot the bill for their incarceration.

The men sparked a new tactic known thereafter as "jail, no bail," and it would be adopted nationally where activists were filling jails to put pressure on the system. Organizations such as C.O.R.E and S.N.C.C. were going broke bailing out their members.

"A lot happened in South Carolina. The riders experienced the first real violence, the first real trouble," said Ray Arsenault, civil rights historian and author of the book 'Freedom Riders,' the basis for the Stanley Nelson documentary by the same name. Arsenault is somewhat of a guide for this group's trip.

Back on the bus outside of the church yesterday, as the group prepared to leave Charlotte for Rock Hill, Lily Astiz, a student rider from New York University, and Erica Shekell, from Michigan State University, were both in tears.

"It's just amazing how, during the movement they fought such violence with love, a philosophy of love," Astiz said. And like Ismoilov, she was also deeply moved by Jones. "It was like, he filled me with light."

The engine roared and the bus slowly pulled away. Jones, the old lion waved and faded in the morning light.

Comments: (7)

Add a comment

Page 1 of 1

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.