Friday, February 18, 2011

Joan Browning recalls Freedom Rides

During an appearance at Marshall University this week, former Freedom Rider Joan Browning recalled her experiences:

Joan C. Browning rode public transportation in 1961 to ensure the 1960 Supreme Court ruling outlawing segregation in public facilities was being enforced. Her last trip was on Nov. 1 aboard a train headed for Albany, Ga.

"Nine of us got on a train in Atlanta heading for Albany," Browning said. "I was the last person chosen for that ride, so I call myself the last Freedom Rider."

Browning said she was the only white female imprisoned for 10 days following the last ride and had a cell all to herself while all of the African-American females were packed into one cell.

"We had agreed to all stay in jail until freedom came," Browning said. "But we decided I should be bailed out because some of the white men in the community had made some threatening remarks."

Browning said the group was first charged with conspiracy to overthrow Georgia's state government, but it was reduced to disturbing the peace six months later.

"You have to find something to stand up for in order to put joy in your life," Browning said

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