Pilgrimage Remembers Freedom Riders

By  | 

Philadelphia, Miss.

'Freedom Riders for Voting Rights' are making a pilgrimage through Mississippi and Alabama in support of preserving provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

It's closing in on fifty years since the landmark law was passed.

Modern day Freedom Riders are touring sites in Mississippi and Alabama that were key to fostering civil rights and voting rights.

The caravan traveled to Jackson and Philadelphia Tuesday to honor the sacrifices of those who died for the cause. Participants say the fight is ongoing that took the lives of civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. The trio was murdered in 1964 for working to register blacks to vote.

Members of the caravan say voting rights are under attack 50 years later.

"And now that we have blacks as mayors, and blacks in positions, and black jurors, we have an opportunity now to stop this senseless violence," said caravan coordinator Faya Toure`. "And we fear that if the Voting Rights Act, section 5, is repealed, that we can return to some of the violence and the journey of the past."

The pilgrimage through the twin states brought the Freedom Riders face to face with the locations of civil rights tragedies that changed the course of history.

"I'm so moved. For the first time, I've heard a detailed story what happened to the civil rights young men who were here in Philadelphia, who were killed," said Toure`. "We're here to hear their stories, because again, the Voting Rights Act is under attack, and they died for the right to vote."

Some say Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act now leads to more problems than protection and places unnecessary legal burdens on nine southern states. But the Freedom Riders disagree, saying their children's children's right to vote could be in jeopardy.

"So, we're here to give hope to our children, to tell them the story," said Toure`. "So they'll say and vow, we're going to fight for the Voting Rights Act with all our might."

Earlier, Freedom Riders visited the home of Medgar Evers and Tougaloo College in Jackson. They will continue on to Marion, Ala., and Selma, Ala.