An original member of the “Freedom Riders,” a group of Black and White youths who traveled on interstate buses to desegregate the South during the 60s, is hoping to teach schoolchildren about the history behind the boycotts.
Diane Nash (pictured) shared her story during a gathering at Marygrove College in Detroit Sunday. The event was also a fundraiser to help pay for a bus trip visiting historic Freedom Riders locations throughout the South for 35 Michigan students.
Nash was an elected coordinator for the Nashville Student Movement Ride at Fisk University. Her job was recruiting student riders-a challenging and dangerous task.
The first few waves of Freedom Riders were firebombed in Anniston, Ala., and attacked by rioters in Birmingham, where Police Chief Eugene “Bull” Connor allowed the rioters to beat the riders for 20 minutes before having his officers intervene.
“I was afraid the whole time, and I think you had to be. It was dangerous,” Nash told MyFox Detroit. “So if you had a good sense you would be afraid.”
But just standing and accepting segregation also wasn’t an option, either.
“I could never imagine just tolerating that type of dehumanization,” she said. The program hosting the gathering was the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights.