Will you get on the bus?
The University of Mary Washington is inviting members of the Fredericksburg community to join students on a trip of a lifetime. The Freedom Rides Tour – set to take place Saturday, Oct. 12, through Tuesday, Oct. 15 – traces the route of the history-changing 1960s bus rides across the American South. The social justice experience celebrates Dr. James L. Farmer Jr., the late civil rights icon and Mary Washington history professor, and his signature movement to enforce the desegregation of interstate travel.
Coordinated by UMW’s James Farmer Multicultural Center (JFMC) and the office of the Vice-President for Equity and Access, the tour is being coordinated in conjunction with UMW’s yearlong 2020 celebration of the 100th anniversary of Dr. Farmer’s birth.
A community bus, caravanning with a student bus, will stop at some of the same places the Freedom Riders stopped as they spoke with other activists at North Carolina’s Bennett College, strategized next steps in Georgia, or sought a safe place to sleep for the night. The tour includes visits to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum in North Carolina, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute in Alabama, and the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change and the Atlanta University Center, both in Georgia.
Participants will learn more about the sites, history and experiences of the Freedom Rides, explore other significant landmarks and delve into the lives of Farmer and other trailblazers of the Civil Rights movement. Among impactful stops, the tour includes Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home and the spot where the Freedom Riders were attacked by the KKK.
UMW Assistant Professor of History and American Studies Erin Devlin will add commentary and context to the trip, along with JFMC Director Marion Sanford, who worked with JFMC Assistant Director Chris Williams to plan the tour.
“I thought it would be a wonderful idea to shed light on the Freedom Rides, one of Dr. Farmer’s greatest accomplishments,” said Williams, who calls the experience a “once-in-a-lifetime trip.” “His work during the Civil Rights Movement with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) is a sobering tale of heroism, devotion and unshakable faith to the cause of achieving equal rights for every human being in the United States.”
Buses will depart from UMW’s Fredericksburg Campus the morning of Saturday, Oct. 12, and return on Tuesday, Oct. 15. The cost of the trip is $490 per person and includes transportation, double-occupancy hotel accommodations and tour admissions. A $125 supplement charge is required of those traveling solo.
Farmer received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and personified UMW’s founding and continuing commitment to be a force for positive change, educating citizens who are ready and eager to address our society’s greatest challenges.
For more information about the trip, including an itinerary and registration information, visit the Mary Washington Alumni Social Justice Trip: Freedom Rides Tour page.