Marker for Freedom Rides unveiled at ceremony
The University of Mary Washington and the City of Fredericksburg on Wednesday unveiled a historical marker commemorating Fredericksburg as the first stop of the Freedom Rides on May 4, 1961. Dion Diamond, a Freedom Rider, spoke at the event.
The event occurred adjacent to the Fredericksburg Fire Station #1 in the 600 block of Princess Anne Street, which is the site of the former Fredericksburg bus depot and now the location of the new historical marker. A bus similar to the one used in the Freedom Rides was on hand for the ceremony.
Mr. Diamond participated in the Freedom Rides in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1961. He was arrested with many others and spent 30 days as a cellmate to Dr. James Farmer in Parchman Prison in Mississippi.
Other speakers at Wednesday’s event included Christopher Williams, assistant director of the James Farmer Multicultural Center at the University of Mary Washington; UMW Professor Christine Henry; Fredericksburg Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw and Vice Mayor Charlie “Chuck” Frye Jr.; Mayo Carter, who provided the funding for the marker; and Tim Roberts from the Virginia Department of Historic Resources, the State’s historic preservation office erecting the marker. During the unveiling commemoration, the names of the 13 original Freedom Riders were read.
The Freedom Rides, organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) with Dr. Farmer as the co-founder and director, challenged states throughout the south to recognize the 1946 and 1960 Supreme Court rulings banning segregated interstate travel. Because of the Freedom Riders’ actions, new regulations prohibiting segregation in interstate travel became effective November 1, 1961. Dr. Farmer would later become a distinguished professor of History and American Studies at Mary Washington College, now the University of Mary Washington, for 13 years, educating students about Civil Rights and his role in the movement.
Additional information on the Freedom Rides is available online at the James Farmer Multicultural Center by visiting https://students.umw.edu/multicultural.