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Freedom Riders roll through Richmond to commemorate Civil Rights Act

RICHMOND, Va. — It has been 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act into law.

That landmark law overruled the Jim Crow laws that dominated Virginia and the South. Today some of the same people who helped change a nation, known as the Freedom Riders,  took a trip to Richmond — the one time capital of the Confederacy.

The commemorative ride is designed to celebrate the signing of the Civil Rights Act half-a-century back and to recommit to the efforts put forth decades back. The Freedom Riders took aim at the transportation system, as segregation in public facilities was being enforced. By the busloads the riders, which started with 13 black and white, men and women challenged those laws.

Those who opposed the laws endured brutal beatings by the Ku Klux Klan, fire bombings and imprisonment. But nearly three years after the Freedom Riders began their journey and the Civil Rights Act became the law of the land.

Some of the same people who fought for the freedom from unfair treatment boarded buses in front of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Building in D.C. for a symbolic ride to the River City. The group arrived at the Virginia State Capitol and was greeted by Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, U.S. Senator Mark Warner and Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights.

Folks were able to follow along with the entire journey on social media, using hashtag #civilrightsride.

After the ride a forum was held at the Library of Virginia to discuss the Civil Rights Act and the implication for today’s society.

The event was organized by retiring Senator Henry Marsh and was attended by Governor Terry McAuliffe, Senator Tim Kaine, Congressman Bobby Scott, and Mayor Dwight Jones.

In attendance as a featured panelist was William Ferguson Reid – the first African American to be elected to the General Assembly in the 20th Century.

Reid was elected in 1967.

He reflected on the impact the Civil Rights Act had on the City of Richmond – and places like the Jefferson Hotel.

“It was like two different cities.  They were two different societies they never met,” Reid said.

“The only way you could go in there would be in uniform,” Reid said – commenting on the White Only policy at places like the Jefferson Hotel.

Reid told CBS 6 that the Civil Rights Act must still be fought for today – saying it isn’t just about getting access to hotels.

The law also fought for equal pay for women and schools where the school population is balanced.

“I think now things may be worse than they were then,” Reid said.

9 comments

  • Jay

    A great man, a Republican, voted for LBJ: Gen. Colin Powell-smart man…..one of the few associated with that party.

    • manalishi

      Yup, he was trusted so well, he talked an entire nation (and administration) into the Iraq war. Yet you call him a smart man.

  • trina

    Interesting that the photo op marsg,scott,mccaulife,warner all democrats considering:
    The Democrat Party’s Long and Shameful History of Bigotry and Racism.
    A little known fact of history involves the heavy opposition to the civil rights movement by several prominent Democrats. Similar historical neglect is given to the important role Republicans played in supporting the civil rights movement. A calculation of 26 major civil rights votes from 1933 through the 1960’s civil rights era shows that Republicans favored civil rights in approximately 96% of the votes, whereas the Democrats opposed them in 80% of the votes! These facts are often intentionally overlooked by the left wing Democrats for obvious reasons. In some cases, the Democrats have told flat out lies about their shameful record during the civil rights movement.

    Democrat Senators organized the record Senate filibuster of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Included among the organizers were several prominent and well known liberal Democrat standard bearers including:

    – Robert Byrd, current senator from West Virginia
    – J. William Fulbright, Arkansas senator and political mentor of Bill Clinton
    – Albert Gore Sr., Tennessee senator, father and political mentor of Al Gore. Gore Jr. has been known to lie about his father’s opposition to the Civil Rights Act.
    – Sam Ervin, North Carolina senator of Watergate hearings fame
    – Richard Russell, famed Georgia senator and later President Pro Tempore

    The complete list of the 21 Democrats who opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 includes Senators:

    – Hill and Sparkman of Alabama
    – Fulbright and McClellan of Arkansas
    – Holland and Smathers of Florida
    – Russell and Talmadge of Georgia
    – Ellender and Long of Louisiana
    – Eastland and Stennis of Mississippi
    – Ervin and Jordan of North Carolina
    – Johnston and Thurmond of South Carolina
    – Gore Sr. and Walters of Tennessee
    – H. Byrd and Robertson of Virginia
    – R. Byrd of West Virginia

    Democrat opposition to the Civil Rights Act was substantial enough to literally split the party in two. A whopping 40% of the House Democrats VOTED AGAINST the Civil Rights Act, while 80% of Republicans SUPPORTED it. Republican support in the Senate was even higher. Similar trends occurred with the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was supported

  • Tina

    What a great celebration!….for the republicans and democrats who supported the Civil rights act.

  • Tina

    Like really—why are you all stuck on division…arguing over how many from the two parties voted for the act and how people were ‘played’, instead of celebrating how the act gave rights to certain people who didnt have certain rights.

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