Freedom Rider Captivates Audiences Across Minneapolis
Civil rights veteran and original member of the 1961 Freedom Rides Dr. Ernest “Rip” Patton traveled across Minnesota this week speaking with students, educators, and community members about his experiences advocating for equality and tolerance during a pivotal moment in this country’s history. Presented in partnership with Facing History and Ourselves and the Jewish Community relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), Patton spoke to the Minnesota National Guard and at venues including St. Cloud State University, Fairview Alternative High School in Roseville, and the Guthrie Theatre.
“It was an incredible opportunity to have Dr. Patton come to the St. Cloud State University campus to talk to our students,” university Professor Kyle Ward told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “His experiences, insight, and comments on the world today were very beneficial for our students as well as enlightening. I thought it was even more interesting to see how many students not only came to this event but also to see a number stay after and have more personal conversations with Dr. Patton about a variety of topics.
“On a personal note,” Ward continued, “I was extremely pleased at how many Social Studies majors came to hear Dr. Patton talk. Knowing that students working towards this major will be able to pass on his stories and message to hundreds of their future students is fantastic. And that these future teachers will be able to start out their lessons on the civil rights era by saying, ‘When I listened to and met a Freedom Rider...' I think it will add special significance and help explain the importance of having Dr. Patton come to SCSU to talk.”
Dr. Patton discussed his participation in the Freedom Rides, when groups of civil rights activists from around the United States challenged segregation simply by travelling side by side on buses and trains through the Deep South. Deliberately violating Jim Crow laws, more than 400 black and white college students risked their lives—and many met with bitter racism, mob violence, and imprisonment—sorely testing their belief in nonviolent activism.
Read “Learning from Freedom Rider, Ernest “Rip” Patton, Jr.” by Steve Hunegs in the Star Tribune.
Learn more about Facing History’s work across North America.
Download Facing History’s free guide to the film Freedom Riders today!