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About Charles Person
In May, 1961, thirteen Freedom Riders--7 Back, 6 White-- sought to travel from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans. They were testing a then-recent Supreme Court decision declaring segregation in interstate travel unconstitutional. The Riders were violently assaulted on Mother's Day by multiple mobs determined to maintain white supremacy. This attempt to stop the Riders brought hundreds more Riders to the South to challenge and defeat Jim Crow.
Following the Ride, Person joined the United States Marines serving the country for 20 years in Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis and in Vietnam as one of the earliest Marines to land there in 1965.
In his memoir, Person seeks to tell his perspective of the freedom fight and honor his fellow Freedom Riders for their courage and sacrifice to make this nation a better place for all.
Person and his wife Jo Etta live in Atlanta, Georgia.. Charles would rather spend an evening sipping on a cup of coffee while eating homemade bread and listening to jazz, than eating at an upscale restaurant.
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A firsthand exploration of the cost of boarding the bus of change to move America forward—written by one of the Civil Rights Movement's pioneers.
At 18, Charles Person was the youngest of the original Freedom Riders, key figures in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement who left Washington, D.C. by bus in 1961, headed for New Orleans. This purposeful mix of black and white, male and female activists—including future Congressman John Lewis, Congress of Racial Equality Director James Farmer, Reverend Benjamin Elton Cox, journalist and pacifist James Peck, and CORE field secretary Genevieve Hughes—set out to discover whether America would abide by a Supreme Court decision that ruled segregation unconstitutional in bus depots, waiting areas, restaurants, and restrooms nationwide.
Two buses proceeded through Virginia, North and South Carolina, to Georgia where they were greeted by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and finally to Alabama. There, the Freedom Riders found their answer: No. Southern states would continue to disregard federal law and use violence to enforce racial segregation. One bus was burned to a shell, its riders narrowly escaping; the second, which Charles rode, was set upon by a mob that beat several riders nearly to death.
Buses Are a Comin’ provides a front-row view of the struggle to belong in America, as Charles Person accompanies his colleagues off the bus, into the station, into the mob, and into history to help defeat segregation’s violent grip on African American lives. It is also a challenge from a teenager of a previous era to the young people of today: become agents of transformation. Stand firm. Create a more just and moral country where students have a voice, youth can make a difference, and everyone belongs.