News Column

Museum dedicated to Freedom Rides movement

August 8, 2014

By Allison Griffin, Montgomery Advertiser, Ala.



Aug. 08--With the 50th anniversary of the Selma-to-Montgomery march and the 60th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott coming up, visitors will be soaking up much of Montgomery's history in the civil rights movement in the coming months.

A museum dedicated to the Freedom Rides will help them understand another historic event that helped shape that era. But there are likely many right here in Montgomery who haven't explored that time in the city's history.

The Freedom Rides Museum opened three years ago, on the event's 50th anniversary. A group of young people -- the Freedom Riders, who were testing federal laws that were supposed to end segregation at bus and train terminals -- was attacked and beaten by angry whites when their bus arrived at this station in May 1961.

There were no police officers to be found as the mob attacked. Floyd Mann, the state's public safety director at the time, had to single-handedly bring an end to the bloodshed.

The museum, which is run by the Alabama Historical Commission, has an interpretive panel and timeline on he exterior; the interior features an art exhibit that changes each May.

The current exhibition is called "Travelin' Down Freedom's Main Line," a lyric from a black protest song that the riders sang on their way to fill up Mississippi's jails.

The exhibit explores several themes, from the riders' point of view: their commitment to non-violent action; what happened when they told their families of their involvement; what it was like to be in jail; and how the rides changed the course of their lives.

The museum educates young people who are now a generation removed from the civil rights era. Making the museum relatable to them is important, Christy Carl, site director of the state Capitol for the Historical Commission, said in a May interview.

"Often we'll talk about bullying, and that's something they can relate to," she said. "In a sense, that's what the Freedom Riders were doing -- standing up to bullies."

The museum also holds book signings for authors who've written about the Freedom Rides. Past signings have brought in Ann Bausum, J. Mills Thornton and Raymond Arsenault.

WANT TO GO?

WHAT: The Freedom Rides Museum

WHERE: At the site of the former Greyhound bus station, 210 S. Court St.

WHEN: The museum is open from 12-4 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays only, and is open by appointment for groups of 10 or more.

ADMISSION: $5 for adults; $4 for college students, seniors and military servicemembers; $3 for children 6-18.

CONTACT: 242-3188, or log on to freedomridesmuseum.org

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(c)2014 the Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Ala.)

Visit the Montgomery Advertiser (Montgomery, Ala.) at www.montgomeryadvertiser.com

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Source: Montgomery Advertiser (AL)


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