Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Freedom Riders to appear on Oprah

As part of the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, some of those who participated in the historic civil rights actions will appear on the Oprah show:

This week Oprah Winfrey will tape a TV show in Chicago with some of the Freedom Riders who long ago trekked courageously to the South to press for civil rights.

Imagine, two of those surviving activists from the front lines in the fight against segregation are Santa Rosans.

Retired pastor Francis Geddes, 87, is one. Geddes, now a member of Church of the Incarnation, was locked up in 1961 as part of an interracial group that agitated to integrate the coffee shop at Mississippi's Jackson Airport.

“What I learned from being jailed in Jackson,” he said as he prepared to fly to meet Oprah and his fellow Freedom Riders, “is that I didn't have to be afraid of anything else in my life.”

CHICAGO BECKONS also to Santa Rosa's George Houser, who first opposed Jim Crow in the South not with the Freedom Rides that began on May 4 of 1961 but with the 1947 anti-segregation campaign that inspired the Rides.

Houser, who's 94, was a leader of the ‘47 Journey of Reconciliation. He and late African-American civil rights leader Bayard Rustin and others boarded Trailways and Greyhound coaches in Southern states to test the Supreme Court's 1946 landmark decision barring segregation on interstate buses.

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