Oral History: Person, Charles

Charles Person participated in the Freedom Rides in 1961.

Charles Person participated in the Freedom Rides in 1961. He speaks about how the Freedom Riders tested the various facilities and accommodations in the bus stations. He also describes the violence in Anniston, Alabama, and how Walter Bergman lost his life. The interview was filmed for the documentary The Children Shall Lead (link).

Interview Data

Name of Interviewee: Charles Person        

Name of Interviewer: Unknown

Date: November 9, 2001

Place of Interview: Jackson, MS

Time                        

Topics/Names/Events Discussed

0:00-2:00

Atlanta Public Schools; Atlanta; Marine Corps; Cuba; MIT; Georgia Tech

2:00-4:00

Denied acceptance to Georgia Tech though met requirements; Morehouse College; Hamilton Holmes; University of Georgia; lunch counter sit-ins

4:00-6:00

Lunch counter sit-ins; nonviolence training in D.C.

6:00-8:00

Atlanta Committee on Appeal for Human Rights; Frank Holloway; Leon Green; solitary confinement for singing in jail; CORE

8:00-10:00

Eighteen at time of Freedom Rides; John Lewis; Henry (Hank) Thomas; Howard University; Isaac Reynolds; Mae Bertha; media coverage; Freedom Ride left from D.C. to test compliance

10:00-12:00

May 4, 1961; Charlotte, NC; CORE; Rock Hill, SC; Atlanta; James Peck; Walter Bergman; Anniston, AL

12:00-14:00

Experience in Anniston, AL; Walter Bergman; Birmingham; injury at Birmingham bus station

14:00-16:00

Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth; injury; catharsis

16:00-18:00

Psychological effect of involvement; shift in youth culture

18:00-20:00

Something is stifling America; civil rights movement not a black/white/Jewish thing, it was a young people thing

20:00-22:00

Common ground; singing

22:00-24:00

Blacks lived in economic uncertainty; his family

24:00-26:00

Continuing after attack; CORE; SNCC

26:00-28:00

Did not make it to Jackson on original ride; May 17, 1961 rally for Freedom Riders in New Orleans; Sen. John Lewis

28:00-30:00

Legacy of the movement in Jackson

30:00-32:00

So much Americans take for granted

32:00-34:00

Legacy of his involvement in the movement

34:00-36:00

Risks taken by “non-blacks”; “Oh Freedom”

His oral history may also be viewed here.

Freedom County