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Les voyageurs de la liberté ont ouvert la route à Obama

leMonde2 Freedom Riders

Freedom Rider Frank Holloway appears on the cover of the January 18 issue of Le Monde2, the Parisian paper’s Sunday magazine. Le Monde reporter Nicolas Bourcier traveled through the south recently and talked to Riders Holloway, Hezekiah Watkins, Catherine Burks-Brooks, Margaret Leonard and Dave Dennis for their thoughts on Barack Obama’s victory and imminent inauguration.

Bourcier’s article will be available online for about a week, in two parts: an introduction and the interviews.

For those who (like me) don’t read French, Yahoo’s Babel Fish will give you the gist of what Bourcier wrote and the Riders said.

Breach of Peace at the Museum of Jewish Heritage

Hezekiah Watkins, Freedom Rider

I will be appearing at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan on Wednesday, January 14, at 7 PM. I will show photographs from the book and Freedom Riders Joan Pleune, Lewis Zuchman and Hezekiah Watkins (above) will talk about their experiences. At the time of the Rides, Joan was a student at Berkeley, Lewis a student at the University of Bridgeport, in Bridgeport, CT, and Hezekiah a student at Rowan Junior High in Jackson, MS. And there will be singing: the event will include a gospel performance by Neshama Carlebach and the Green Pastures Baptist Choir.

Last summer, Hezekiah was in town for another Breach event with Joan Pleune, and we got together at the publisher’s office to make short video about their experiences on the Freedom Rides.

James Bevel, 1936-2008

James Bevel

James Bevel was born in Itta Bena, MS, in 1936. He was a member of the Nashville Student Movement in 1961, and rode the first bus of Freedom Riders into Jackson on May 24. After bailing out, he began recruiting future Riders in Jackson, and set up a CORE office there. He went on to plan some of the movement’s major campaigns.

From the Washington Post‘s obituary:

The Rev. James L. Bevel, 72, a fiery top lieutenant of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and a force behind civil rights campaigns of the 1960s whose erratic behavior and conviction on incest charges tarnished his legacy, died in Virginia on Dec. 19 of pancreatic cancer. . . .

“Jim Bevel was Martin Luther King’s most influential aide,” said civil rights historian David J. Garrow. He cited Rev. Bevel’s “decisive influence” on the Birmingham “children’s crusade” of 1963 that helped revive the movement, the voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 and King’s increased outspokenness against the Vietnam War.

Read the rest.

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