Freedom Rider to speak at Stetson University

January 10, 2013

Beatings, bombings did not deter Freedom Riders from their Civil Rights quest

Ernest “Rip” Patton Jr. was a 21-year-old Tennessee State University student and the drum major in the marching band in 1961 when he made the life-altering decision to become a Freedom Rider. In celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Patton will be speaking at Stetson University on Jan. 22, at 7 p.m. This event is free and open to the public.

In his presentation, Patton will uncover forgotten history about the Lawson workshops, Nashville sit-ins in 1960, the March on Washington in 1963, and the signing of the Civil Rights Act among other historical events.

The Freedom Riders were a group of men and women — black and white, young and old – who boarded buses, trains and planes headed for the American South. Their purpose was to test a U.S. Supreme Court ruling outlawing segregation in all interstate public facilities, such as bus stations, which often had separate drinking fountains, restrooms and lunch counters for blacks and whites.

The trip, which began in Washington, D.C., and ended in New Orleans, La., was marred by beatings, bombings, arrests and imprisonment of the Freedom Riders, and it was into this situation that Patton volunteered to step in 1961. Patton was one of 14 Tennessee State students expelled for participating in the Freedom Rides. The Freedom Riders risked violence, humiliation and death for freedom and dignity, and in so doing they changed the path of American law and made history. Patton’s presentation is an opportunity to hear a first-hand recounting of that history.

The Stetson University College of Law presented Patton with the honorary doctor of laws degree in 2010. For the past four years, Law Professor Robert Bickel has coordinated a 2,000-mile “Civil Rights Movement and the Law Tour” through the Deep South for law and history students of Stetson and other area universities.  Watch the video, produced by the Stetson College of Law, documenting this educational trip similar to that taken by the Freedom Riders at http://www.law.stetson.edu/civil-rights/viewforum.php?f=8.

Event details:

Will You Get on the Bus?: Intimate moments with original 1961 Freedom Rider Dr. Ernest “Rip” Patton on Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights leaders

Tuesday, Jan. 22, 7-8:30 p.m.

Location: Stetson Room, Carlton Union Building, 131 E. Minnesota Ave., DeLand, Fla.

This event is free and open to the public.

Sponsored by the Stetson University Cross-Cultural Center and the Marchman Program for Civic and Social Responsibility, and Stetson University College of Law

List of events at Stetson University in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day:

Monday, Jan. 21

7:30-10:30 a.m.  Martin Luther King Jr. Commemoration Breakfast

Location: Rinker Field House in Hollis Center, 602 N. Bert Fish Drive, DeLand, Fla.

 

10:30 a.m.-noon Martin Luther King Jr. Unity March

Location: Rinker Field House to Chisholm Community Center, DeLand, Fla.

 

1-4 p.m. Day of Service (various locations)

Coordinated by Stetson University’s Center for Community Engagement

Encouraging everyone to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day a “day ON, not a day OFF,” Stetson will join Americans across the country who will honor and celebrate King’s life and legacy by helping neighbors and communities. During the Day of Service Stetson students, faculty, staff and alumni will be reaching out a helping hand to those in need through six local organizations:

 

4:30-5:30 p.m. Chapel Service

Location: Lee Chapel in Elizabeth Hall, 421 N. Woodland Blvd., DeLand, Fla.

 

Tuesday, Jan. 22

6-7 p.m. Sankofa African American Traveling Museum Opening Reception

Sponsored by the Stetson University Cross-Cultural Center

Location: Stetson Room, Carlton Union Building, 131 E. Minnesota Ave., DeLand, Fla.

This event is free and open to the public.

Curator Angela Jennings will share opening remarks about the importance of learning from our past to build our future as a precursor to the featured evening presentation, “Will You Get on the Bus?”

 

7-8:30 p.m. Will You Get on the Bus? Intimate moments with original 1961 Freedom Rider Dr. Ernest “Rip” Patton on Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights leaders

Location: Stetson Room, Carlton Union Building, 131 E. Minnesota Ave., DeLand, Fla.

This event is free and open to the public.

Sponsored by the Stetson University Cross-Cultural Center and Marchman Program for Civic and Social Responsibility, and Stetson University College of Law

Reenactment of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech followed by personal stories of encounters with Martin Luther King, Jr. and other civil rights leaders by original 1961 Freedom Rider, Dr. Ernest “Rip” Patton. Patton took part in the May 24, 1961, Greyhound Freedom Ride to Jackson, Miss., where he was arrested and later transferred to Mississippi’s notorious Parchman State Prison Farm.

 

Wednesday, Jan. 23

*9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Guided tours of Sankofa African American Traveling Museum

Sponsored by the Stetson University Cross-Cultural Center

Location: Stetson Room, Carlton Union Building, 131 E. Minnesota Ave., DeLand, Fla.

This event is free and open to the public.

One of the foremost collections of African American history spanning the period of 1860 to the present, “Sankofa” takes audiences on a journey through slavery, the era of King Cotton and days of Emancipation. It also tells the stories of Ida B. Wells, the Tuskegee Airman, and other famous African Americans. This exhibit includes more than 20 tables of historical artifacts, pictures, writings and other tangible items which are enhanced with a guided tour, question and answer session and dramatic presentation.

*The exhibit will be closed from noon until 1p.m.

 




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