On May 14, 1961, on Alabama 202 just outside of Anniston, a bus carrying activists known as Freedom Riders was attacked by an angry mob. The Freedom Riders were traveling on the bus to test a Supreme Court decision that desegregated travel stops.
The attack on the Freedom Riders, rather than discouraging integration as those in the mob had intended, helped cement the country’s resolve to enforce the Supreme Court rulings throughout the South.
The Thursday groundbreaking, set to start at 10 a.m., will kick off the fundraising to pay for the park as well as celebrate the progress made so far by a diverse group of volunteers in the Freedom Riders Park organization.
The celebration will continue that night at 6 p.m. at Jacksonville State University’s McClellan Center where Anniston-native K. B. Solomon will perform parts of his one-man show “Speak of Me as I Am.”
The show, media coordinator Connie Durham said, is a tribute to Paul Robeson, a well-known black actor from the 1930s and 1940s. Robeson, the son of a former slave, attended Rutgers University and Columbia University. He became famous both nationally and internationally for his booming bass voice, Durham said. Robeson was also a well-known civil rights activist which makes the show a good fit for a celebration of the park, she said.
Both events are free and open to the public.
Star Staff Writer Laura Camper: 256-235-3545. On Twitter @Lcamper_star