Person, Charles: Oral History

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).

Charles Person from Winter Institute on Vimeo.

His oral history may also be viewed here.

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”