My ties to Alabama’s new Freedom Riders Park, groundbreaking at 9 a.m. today (Janita Poe)
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012, 6:50 AM Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012, 7:31 AM
The date was May 14, 1961, and the incident – involving seven student activists testing a Supreme Court decision banning interstate bus segregation – was one of several pivotal events that culminated two years later in the national March on Washington.
At 9 a.m. today, historians, community leaders and civil rights workers from across the country will return to the location of the Anniston bus burning – on Highway 202 –for a groundbreaking of the town’s new Freedom Rider’s Park.
According to a news release about the groundbreaking from the Friends of Freedom Riders Park, the event will kick off the fundraising to pay for the park as well as celebrate the progress made by Freedom Riders Park coordinators. The celebration will continue at 6 p.m. at Jacksonville State University’s McClellan Center where Anniston-native K. B. Solomon will perform parts of his one-man show “Speak of Me as I Am,” a tribute to legendary black actor and early Ivy Leaguer Paul Robeson.
They also offer a vivid picture of the life lived by my parents – both in their mid-70s now – and their contemporaries before integration and how the civil rights movement touched their daily lives, their social and religious networks.
My mother graduated from Fisk University in 1956 and my father from Tennessee State University in 1957. Their siblings also attend the two schools and my father’s brother—Cupid Poe, now a Nashville, Tenn., psychiatrist— was president of the TSU student body in 1960.