Rep. John Lewis Remembers 45th Anniversary of Freedom Rides

May 4, 2006

Congressman John Lewis reflected on the anniversary of the Freedom Rides today with these comments:

"The Freedom Rides are probably the untold story of the Civil Rights Movement. It was 45 years ago today that we began the Freedom Rides. We left Washington, DC on May 4th, 1961, bound for New Orleans in an effort to try to desegregate public transportation in the Deep South. Decades later the whites-only signs have come down, and all people-both blacks and whites, Native Americans, Latinos and Asians, people of all races, colors, nationalities and creeds-can travel from this nation's capitol to New Orleans without being beaten, arrested, and jailed for sitting next to each other. Today there is only one waiting room at the train and bus station, only one lunch counter or dining room at restaurants.

"Through the non-violent protests of hundreds, thousands, and millions of our citizens, ordinary people with extraordinary vision, this nation has witnessed a non-violent revolution under the rule of law, a revolution of values, a revolution of ideas. As a nation and as a people, we have come a great distance, but we still have a great distance to go before we lay down the burden of race and class in America. We can take our inspiration from the past and prepare for the future.

"In the Civil Rights Movement we used to say that our struggle was more than one day, one season or one year. It was more than one presidential term or one legislative session, it was the struggle of a lifetime. Each generation must continue to do its part to win some victory for humanity. Each generation must continue to do its part to bring us closer to the Beloved Community, a nation at peace with itself."