Cumberland University to Host Freedom Rider for Presentation on the Civil Rights Movement

Cumberland University will host local Freedom Rider and Civil Rights activist Dr. Ernest “Rip” Patton Jr. for a Chapel Chat titled, “Freedom Riders: An Intimate Talk and Q&A with a Civil Rights Hero,” on March 16 at 12:30 p.m. in Baird Chapel. The event will be open to CU students, faculty and staff, and local communities. 

As a young college student at Tennessee State University, Dr. Patton courageously joined the Civil Rights movement as a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Nashville, Tenn. and became a Freedom Rider in 1961. He participated in the Greyhound Freedom Ride to Jackson, Miss., resulting in his arrest and transfer to the notorious Parchman State Prison Farm in Mississippi. 

The Freedom Riders were a racially diverse group of men and women that risked their own lives to take a stand for freedom, equality, and dignity as they peacefully protested injustice and tested a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to outlaw segregation in all interstate public facilities. 

“The Freedom Riders and other Civil Rights heroes continue to inspire us to take a stand for liberty and justice for all – and to intentionally work to expand liberty and justice until all truly are included,” said Dr. Kent Hallman, sociology and criminal justice professor and event organizer. “For much work remains to be done and these heroes knew that we will only become one “Beloved Community” if we use the instruments of liberty and justice: defeating hate with love, turmoil with offers of peace, fear with education and division with renewed unity.”

Today, Dr. Patton travels locally and nationally to share his story with students to teach them about the Civil Rights movement and create conversations about the African American struggle. Dr. Patton has also shared his experience with local news outlets and on the Oprah Winfrey Show in 2011. 

“We are absolutely thrilled to have Dr. Patton speaking to our students and community on a topic of which its importance and relevance has not waivered since its origins, “ said Dr. Bill McKee, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “As students continue their journey through higher education, we strive to give students educational opportunities both in and out of the classroom, to help them become mindful and engaged citizens throughout the world.”

The event will feature Dr. Patton’s personal experiences and reflections as well as musical arrangements. The event will also be free of charge.

Learn more about Dr. Patton here:

Watch Dr. Patton’s interview with Oprah Winfrey here:

Image source: Tampa Bay Times

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