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A contemporary story of faith in action, à la St. Stephen

May 17, 2011

I found this amazing story from the CNN website about one of the Freedom Riders that I wanted to share with you (Freedom riders were civil rights activists that rode interstate buses into the segregated southern United States to test the United States Supreme Court decision Boynton v. Virginia (of 1960) which outlawed racial segregation. The first Freedom Ride left Washington, D.C., on May 4, 1961 Wikipedia). The young man portrayed in this story became an icon of the Civil Rights Movement and paid a dear price for his convictions in ways he never could have imagined. But what struck me was the man’s faith, a faith not unlike St. Stephen whose story we read in Acts, chapter 7.

This is faith in action.

The first few paragraphs of the article appear here with a link to the rest. There is a warning of objectionable language in the article – this language is not present on this post.

SHOCKING PHOTO CREATED A HERO, BUT NOT TO HIS FAMILY

By John Blake, CNN

Editor’s note: This is an excerpt from John Blake’s 2004 book “Children of the Movement.” The PBS documentary “Freedom Riders” features James Zwerg, now 71. Blake interviewed him in 2003. This report contains objectionable language.

(CNN) — The mob was already waiting for James Zwerg by the time the Greyhound bus eased into the station in Montgomery, Alabama.

Looking out the window, Zwerg could see men gripping baseball bats, chains and clubs. They had sealed off the streets leading to the bus station and chased away news photographers. They didn’t want anyone to witness what they were about to do.

Zwerg accepted his worst fear: He was going to die today.

Only the night before, Zwerg had prayed for the strength to not strike back in anger. He was among the 18 white and black college students from Nashville who had decided to take the bus trip through the segregated South in 1961. They called themselves Freedom Riders. Their goal was to desegregate public transportation.

Read the rest of the article here.

Visit the PBS website to watch videos here.

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