Freedom Rider shares his Civil Rights-era experiences

by Marcus E. Howard   KENNESAW - Nearly 50 years ago, Dr. Bernard…

Georgia (Apr 25, 2011)

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by Marcus E. Howard
KENNESAW - Nearly 50 years ago, Dr. Bernard Lafayette Jr. became a part of history when he and other people set out to defy Jim Crow laws in the Deep South.

On Friday, Lafayette spoke at Kennesaw State University about his experiences as an original member of the Freedom Riders, a biracial group of mostly young people who risked their lives by riding buses to test and challenge segregated interstate travel facilities, after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed such.

At 9 p.m. May 16, a documentary that tells the inspirational and powerful story of the May 1961 bus rides, titled "Freedom Riders," will air nationally on PBS.

Before Lafayette spoke, KSU students and other guests received a sneak preview of the film that was hosted by the university's Center for the Study of the Civil War Era. Guests included Stan Bond, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park superintendent, and Cobb NAACP President Deane Bonner. …

Brian Wills, director of the KSU Center for the Study of the Civil War Era, said the story of the Freedom Rides fit into the mission of the center.

"Part of what we've been interested in trying to examine, are the causes of the war and some of those things that lead up to the war, the war itself, and then those things that come out as a result of the war," said Wills.



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit