Zentangle graphic design illustrations

by Debora-Grace Stanczak, CZT

It's time to come home from a weekly art class I lead. As I step outside to find my car, I can smell the earth, wet and fragrant from a light rain dosed with sprinkles of waning winter and splashes of the coming spring. I'm reminded that March is almost over. We're a quarter way down 2022.

I'm also reminded that there are some people with March birthdays that I have only a few more hours to acknowledge. So, happy birthday to...who?

They turned off the air conditioner and the water because we wouldn't stop singing. -Ernest Patton, Jr.

Here are some of the March babies of the course altering 1961 Freedom Rides. Life-risking sojourns initiated to call attention to, and call for an end to, segregation in public transportation:

Helen O'Neal McCray (pictured at the very bottom), Clarksdale, MS, March 4, 1941; Larry Bell (pictured below, first), Monroe, GA, March 5, 1942; Ernest Patton, Jr. (pictured below, second), Nashville, TN, March 10, 1940; Judith Frieze Wright, Boston, MA, March 12, 1939; and Lewis Zuchman (pictured below, fourth), Bronx NY, March 29, 1942.

Perhaps Diane McWorter was right when she observed, certainly in 1961, "There is no duty as basic yet so potentially heroic as getting on the bus." In 1961, cosmically small actions undertaken by relatively ordinary people brought about seismic shifts in how "self-evident" truths would be lived out in these United States.

Incidentally, during Freedom Summer these five individuals would be among the hundreds of activists who'd affirm why the caged bird sings. Snippets from Breach of Peace by Eric Etheridge reveal what strong strands in the fabric of activism music had woven.

"[In Parchman] you couldn't sleep any way you tried. So we sat up and we debated all night, and we got more boisterous in our songs." -Larry Bell

There was a mass meeting in a church. It was the first time I heard the freedom songs...they opened up their arms to me, and I went in. And I ended up howling out these songs. It was really wonderful. It was my political awakening." -Judith Frieze Wright

I remember the Fourth of July weekend, I believe it was, they turned off the air conditioner and the water because we wouldn't stop singing. So, it was hot and a little smelly because we couldn't flush the toilets. And we couldn't shower. I do remember that. Be we kept singing. - Ernest Patton, Jr.

Above, from top to bottom: Larry Bell, Ernest Patton, Jr., Judith Frieze Wright

There is no duty as basic yet so potentially heroic as getting on the bus. - Diane McWorter

Lewis Zuchman

So I wonder. There's a lot going on in the U.S. and in the world right now -- I know that's putting it very mildly; we're approaching a tipping point. But what buses would you say there are today that we need to be boarding? What might "getting on the bus" look like in your life, your community, your nation, your sphere of influence...right now?

Freedom Riders Advocate bracelet

Freedom Riders Advocate bracelet


An awful lot of American women have actively put THEIR lives on the line to fight for OURS. SHACKLE BREAKERS, you could call them, making the style of this bracelet fitting.

WHO WERE THE FREEDOM RIDERS?: search for them in this shop to find out.

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