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posted: 10/2/2013 4:40 AM

Recalling Freedom Rider days of '65

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Recalling Freedom Rider days of '65

I recently saw "The Butler" and I have to say that it was great. It was also very disturbing to me. You see, I was with what I think was the second wave of Freedom Riders with Martin Luther King in 1965. Several times I almost had to keep myself from leaving.

We had been to Little Rock, Ark. and were heading to Selma, Ala. Even though I had spent some time as a kid in Virginia, I wasn't prepared for the hateful signs that were everywhere. The jeers and name calling were even worse.

As we started crossing the bridge, the other side was obscured by the high center. When near the crest we saw the crowd on the other side. The young lady next to me said, "Boy, are they going to beat our black (butts)!" They weren't very nice to our white ones, either.

A cop hit me over my left eye with his night stick and I went down badly hurt as were so many others. I remember being in a crowded cell with my T-shirt wrapped around my head being poked with a broom stick. I barely remember heading toward Montgomery.

Many times I wonder as the memories fade a bit each year, what was I doing there? I had little in common with the people I marched with and it is hard to justify being there. Except that I was just one of the many white and black human beings who thought that everyone should have an even chance at growing up: an equal chance at a good education and an equal chance for a respectable job and affordable housing. Much of this still needs work but with hard work it will come.

Raleigh Sutton


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