Freedom Riders Return to Jackson bus stop 50 years later - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Freedom Riders Return to Jackson bus stop 50 years later

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Fifty years ago it would have been a much different scene in Downtown Jackson as men and women stepped off a Greyhound Bus.

It's the same place as the original location of the Trailways Bus Station where in 1961, the very first bus of freedom riders arrived, testing federal interstate travel laws in the Deep South.

Many were beaten and arrested after stepping off.

Now, five decades later, they're stepping off for a much different reason.

To honor their efforts and triumph over segregation; elected leaders, activists, supporters, and students from around the country packed the site where the planetarium now stands.

For one of those original riders, Hank Thomas, being back at the site was a way to say thanks to the local riders who he says don't get enough credit.

"You and I when we got out of Parchman, we went back to our hometowns, they had to remain here and many of them suffered reprisals; lest we forget, these are the real heroes," Thomas said.

The legacy left behind by folks like Thomas is now merely a history lesson to Tougaloo College student Curtis Stanard, a lesson now come to life.

"We really get the history lesson in full force and we actually get to see it rather than just read about it and research it," Stanard said. 

For student Deanna Ford the trip all the way from New York City is worth it, to see history in human form.

"When you're here, actually get to meet them," Ford said. "They get to share their stories with you and you get to have a conversation with them to know what it's really like, you feel what they went through."

Meanwhile, Mississippians are thanking the riders for a state they call home.

"The Mississippi that we enjoy and are so proud of today is the direct legacy of the people who put themselves on the line in the sixties," said Jackson resident Jay Wiener. 

The riders of the past are now calling on the leaders of the future, urging young generations to keep the wheels of civil rights rolling.

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