Freedom Riders challenged racial laws in the American South in the 1960s, originally by refusing to abide by the laws designating that seating in buses be segregated by race. The Freedom Riders set out to challenge this status quo by riding various forms of public transportation in the South to challenge local laws or customs that enforced segregation. The Freedom Rides, and the violent reactions they provoked, bolstered the credibility of the American Civil Rights Movement and called national attention to the violent disregard for the law that was used to enforce segregation in the southern United States. Riders were arrested fortrespassing, unlawful assembly, and violating state and local Jim Crow laws, along with other alleged offenses.
Bishop H. Hartford Brookins the 91st elected and consecrated Bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was in attendance and was greeted by the Freedom Riders and student participants of the Los Angeles African American Jewish Connection Cultural Exchange Program.
The Los Angeles African American Jewish Connection’s Cultural Exchange Program exists for African American and Jewish 6th and 7th grade students to explore, examine and develop a deeper understanding of each other’s culture, history and religion. FAME is a sponsor of the Los Angeles African American Jewish Connection’s Cultural Exchange Program.
Special thanks are extended to our partners at the American Jewish Committee Los Angeles, Brotherhood Crusade, Los Angeles Urban League, Big Brothers and Sisters of Los Angeles and our own Constancce Fortune, Chair Pro Tem of FAME Trustee Board #2.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
Fifty years ago as a peaceful campaign brought new attention to the wrongs of segregation, the civil rights movement was fortified by the courage and bravery of the Freedom Riders. In boarding those busses and traveling into the South, your actions signaled that the needs of the many outweighed individual aspirations. By taking a ride, you stood for justice. When verbally and physically assaulted, you took those blows in the name of liberty. When detained and denied fair and equal treatment, you remained steadfast in your commitment to the cause, like the participants on the Journey of Reconciliation and those who took the long way home during the Montgomery Bus Boycott years before your journey.
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.” Your actions of defiance broke barriers and helped to break chains of oppression that choked our nation. You are truly builders of bridges, sources of hope and architects of change. Your courage and tenacity served as inspiration then and now, as we witness the strategy of peaceful protests being duplicated throughout the world. You are living history, and we are honored by your presence and your continuing passion for justice and fairness. Yesterday, today and tomorrow we are in your debt and salute you for your pursuit of the greater good. We pray that God will continue to surround you with His hedge of protection as you fulfill the purpose that He has called you for.
For the congregation on this 13th day of February, 2011
Rev. Dr. John Joseph Hunter, Senior Minister