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Rip Patton, Freedom Rider, part of MLK schedule

Freedom Rider Dr. “Rip” Patton (right), pictured with Law Professor Robert Bickel, will speak on Stetson’s DeLand campus Jan. 22.

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

When Ernest “Rip” Patton Jr. was a 21-year-old Tennessee State University student and the drum major in the marching band in 1961, 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.

Stetson President Wendy B. Libby 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.  You can watch the video, produced by Stetson University 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

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.