It Takes...More Than A Village



"I wasn't sold on the nonviolence part, but it did finally resonate as a strategy." -Luvaghn Brown (pictured above)

So, the last time I presented info about the Freedom Riders, it was for the four brave souls who rode on my birthday in 1961. Mary Harrison, Elnora Price, Thomas Armstrong III, and Joseph Ross. If we were to time travel back to that year, there would be thirteen more rides between the date of June 23 and, today, July 11.

Take up a comfy seat somewhere. I'm gonna list off the foot soldiers who took those rides, and it'll be more than just a few names. Keep in mind that riders traveled from various cities across the U.S. to Jackson, Mississippi, or integrated lunch counters or bus stations only to be arrested before even setting foot on a bus.

Here we go.

June 25, New Orleans, LA to Jackson, MS: Goerge Blevins, Arthur Brooks, Jr., Miss Mary Hamilton, Louise Inghram, Claude Liggins, Chela Lightchild, Eddora Manning, Janis Rogers, John Rogers, and Wayne Taylor of Los Angeles, CA, Gloria Bouknight of Columbia, SC, John Dolan and Richard Thorne of Berkeley, CA, Gordon Harris of Rochester, NY, Frank Johnson of Tuscon, AZ, Marian Kendall of Phildelpia, PA, Norma Libson of New Orleans, LA, Frank Nelson of Brooklyn, NY, and Claire Toombs of Silver Spring, MD.

July 2, Montgomery, AL to Jackson, MS: Barbara Kay or Englewood, NJ, Robert Miller of Detroit, MI, Michael Pritchard of San Francisco, CA, Peter Stoner of Chicago, IL, and Leotis Thornton of San Jose, CA.

July 5, Livingston Park Station, Jackson, MS: Mary Lou Bell, Charles, Brice, Eddie Thomas, and Percy Thornton, all of Jackson, MS.

Also July 5, Trailways Station, Jackson, MS: Robert Bass, and Ralph Floyd of Jackson, MS, and Eugene Lee of Raymond, MS.

Again, July 5, Trailways Station, Jackson, MS: Marshall Bennett, Miller G. Green, Robert Green, Jesse Harris, Percy Johnson, and James Jones, all of Jackson, MS.

July 6, Illinois Central Train Station: Frank Caston Frank Griffin, Alpha Palmer, West Phillips, Tommie Watts, Jr., and Mack Wells, all of Jackson, MS.

July 7, Greyhound, Jackson, MS: Alfonzo Denson, Jr., Samuel Givens, Landy McNair, Jr., Earl Vance, Jr., Hesekiah Watkins, and Paul Young, all of Jackson, MS.

Also July 7, Montgomery, AL to Jackson, MS: Chalres Biggers of Boulder, CO, Elmer Brown of Akron, OH, William Hansen, Jr., of Cincinnati, OH, John Lowry and Norma Matskin of New York, NY, Isaac Reynolds, Jr. of Detroit, MI, Daniel Stevens of Wilmington, OH, and Ameen Tuungane of Columbus, OH.

Hold on. We're getting close.

Again, July 7, Illinois Central Train Station: Morton Slater of New York, NY. A lone foot soldier.

July 9, New Orleans, LA, to Jackson, MS: Patricia Baskerville of Tuscon, AZ, Larry Bell, Tommie Brashear, Edmond Dalbert, Jr., Reginald Jackson, Edward Johnson, Philip Perkins, and Roena Rand, all from Los Angeles, and John Taylor, Jr. of Berkeley, CA.

Almost there. Two more rides for July 9.

July 9, Montgomery, AL to Jackson, MS: Daniel Burkholder, Jeanne Herrick, Saul Manfield and Lula Mae White, of Chicago, IL, Linell Goldbart and Stephen Greenstein of Brooklyn, NY, and Robert Rogers of New York, NY.

July 9, Trailways, Jackson, MS: Leo BLue, Mildred Blue, Fred Clark, Jessie Davis, Gainnel Hayes, Andrew Horne, Jr., Erma Lee Horne, Delores Lynch, Henry Rosell, Oneal Vance, and Joe Watts, Jr., all of Jackson, MS.

Finally, July 11, Walgreen's Lunch Counter, Jackson, MS: Luvaghn Brown and Jimmie Travis of Jackson, MS.

It takes more than a village.

I'm grateful to journalist Eric Etheridge for his dedication to the task of assembling all Freedom Rider photos, taking photographs, as able, of many of those still living, getting their take on their dates with destiny, and putting all these elements together in one print collection. I'm especially thankful to the other journalists, newsletter writers, bloggers, researchers, and interested parties who, over the years have sought out these activists and asked for their stories, to preserve them in time. I'd give anything to be able to get to each of these folks myself, look into their eyes and hear their voices as they roll back time. You can discover existing testimonials in articles, audios, and videos scattered like sparse gold nuggets across U.S. libraries, book stores, and internet pages. Start with a first and last name and the words 'Freedom Ride.'

My favorite Freedom Rider was on the June 25 ride. If you don't recall who she was, peek back at the ARTHAUS:Detroit edition titled The Other Hamilton. I could talk about her all day. But there are so many others I want to introduce you to, sometimes I hardly know where to start. Last time, I introduced Asian-American Freedom Rider Mary Harrison. This time, I think I'll intro Luvaghn Brown. You can get to know something of the human being, apart from his 1961 civil rights service.

FIVE FAST FACTS (there's more to find when you go on your own treasure hunt):

1. Luvaghn Brown spent the first five years of his life on a farm.

2. Brown graduated high school early, as he was whip-smart enough to skip, not just one grade, but two.

3. He's lived in Jackson, MS, Chicago, IL, and New York, NY.

4. Brown more recently worked as a software development manager and then as a managing director at New York accounting firm, Coopers & Lybrand, one of the oldest accounting firms in the United States.

5. The precarity of life for black men most heavily hit home for him when he was ten years old and Emmett Till was murdered.

Luvaghn Brown's own words about door to door organizing in Greenwood, MS, for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and giving nonviolence a try, " 'You had to show people that you weren't afraid even if you were." He admitted, "I wasn't sold on the nonviolence part, but it did finally resonate as a strategy. I talked to some of my friends and said, 'Let's give this a shot.' I had a strong pent-up desire to do something, to act. So I did."

For acting on the courage of your convictions, Mr. Brown, thank you.

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