Thursday, November 22, 2018

Walking through History

Georgia Calhoun, 89, is a walking history book. I had the privilege of sitting down and interviewing her about the Freedom Riders Monument. Calhoun has been involved with saving properties and artifacts that normally would be looked over, including the historical spots that witnessed the story of the Freedom Riders.
In the beginning, many parts of Anniston were opposed to marking the areas downtown that were associated with the events because it was assumed that would highlight an ugly  time of our history, but the reality is Anniston played a major role in the Civil Rights Movement in America.
The Freedom Riders were proving that federal laws were not being properly enforced not only in interstate travel but especially in the southern United States.
The importance of highlighting these occurrences goes deeper than creating negative stigma, and it stands alongside other events of the Civil Rights Movement: the Edmund Pettis Bridge, 16 th Street Baptist Church, and so many more. The Freedom Rider Monument represents the battle of  segregation and basic human rights that were denied.
When asked about her favorite element of the Freedom Riders Monument Calhoun replied “Janie Forsyth, and how she gave water to the Freedom Riders.” Calhoun encourages visitors, returning and new, to read the story and do some research on not only the burning of the bus but the contributing events that took place before or after.
Calhoun reminds us “As you pass through this way you are not just seeing Anniston as it
is now, but learning the history of Anniston then…if you don’t know where you are, you won’t know where you’ve been or where you’re going.”
Slow down, make that stop at 1031 Gurnee Avenue, and reach into the rich history of Anniston, Alabama. “Even at 89,  I’ll be fighting to teach (the history or the Freedom Riders),” Calhoun exclaimed. Sunday, May 14th, 1961 is a Mother’s Day that changed the America.

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