The city high school students and original Freedom Riders who retraced the civil rights activists' historic 1961 route through the South drew to a close Tuesday with a visit to the historic bus station in Jackson, Mississippi. NY1's Budd Mishkin filed the following report.
Tuesday was a spirited day in Jackson, Mississippi, as Freedom Riders who battled segregation in 1961 and current city high school students joined in song while marching to an event at the historic Greyhound bus station.
One of the interesting developments this week is that the Freedom Riders, many of whom have lived and worked out of the public eye, have, in the eyes of the students, become rock stars.
"They're heroes. They're like our Batmans and Supermans in today's society," said Ikenna Wesby of Innovation High School
"I came down here and I feel like now I'm on another ride, as important as the first one," said Donna Garde, an original Freedom Rider.
Before long, the students are heading back to New York, with vivid memories that will not easily be forgotten.
"To see the house and to see the bullet hole in the house, that was amazing," said Shane King of Hunter College School of Social Work, referring to a visit to the house of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers. "And then to see his wife there, oh man. I just thought that was amazing."
"It's motivating me to continue and to not stop, because they didn't stop," said Michael Wilson of the Boys and Girls High School.
One of the highlights of the week has been the personal connections made between Freedom Riders and students, in story circles and private moments as well.
"They just realized that people were so willing to share the history, to see the history is something that we can still continue on. As a young person, I really appreciated that," said Ruben Mina of the Hunter College School of Social Work.
"Many of the same reasons why the Freedom Riders got on the bus 50 years ago, I think, are a lot of the reasons why we got on the bus to come down here from New York," said Lizzie Umry of the Hunter College School of Social Work.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I'm glad that I seized the day," said Naji Walters of Rice High School.
The Freedom Riders taught the students this week, and certainly learned from them as well.