Three of the original Freedom Riders will discuss their faith and the role it played in their efforts to end segregation when they appear in the Mount Carmel Auditorium at Quinnipiac University, 275 Mount Carmel Ave., at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 30. This program is free and open to the public.
Joan C. Browning, Dion Diamond and the Rev. Reginald M. Green will discuss what it was like to be among the 436 Freedom Riders who rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States in 1961 and the following years to challenge the nonenforcement of Supreme Court rulings that segregated buses were unconstitutional.
“The Freedom Riders’ stories were forged in the crucible of a tumultuous time in American history,” said Andrew Ober, Protestant chaplain at Quinnipiac, who is organizing the event. “Their stories provide vital insight for us today into how activists respond and persist in the face of social injustice and opposition—with tenacity, humility and a hope that non-violence can lead to a better future.”
Browning grew up in rural Georgia, where she went from picking 100 pounds of cotton a day to volunteering with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. She participated in the Paine College steering committee demonstrations in Augusta, Georgia, in April 1961, and the Atlanta Student Movement sit-ins in Atlanta in 1961-63. She was one of nine Albany Freedom Riders on the last freedom ride. The first in her immediate family to attend college, she was asked to leave Georgia State College for Women in Milledgeville in 1961 because she had worshipped at a black church.
At age 19, Diamond, then a student at Howard University, was already a seasoned veteran of the nonviolent direct-action movement that began with sit-ins at public restaurants in 1960. On May 24, 1961, three weeks after the first Freedom Riders set out to take down the “white” and “colored” signs in public transportation, he boarded a Greyhound bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and headed to Jackson, Mississippi, where he was arrested the following day for his involvement.
In 1960, Green, who was a student at Virginia Union University, was arrested for participating in sit-ins in Richmond, Virginia. On June 7, 1961, he and five other Freedom Riders boarded a bus in Nashville, Tennessee, and headed to Jackson Mississippi, where they were arrested and spent the next several months in prison.
For more information, call 203-582-8652.