Cumberland University to Host Freedom Rider Presentation to Kick-Off Four-Part Discussion Event

Cumberland University will host local Freedom Rider and Civil Rights activist Dr. Ernest “Rip” Patton Jr. on August 27 at 11 a.m on Memorial Lawn. This event will be the first installment in a series of events titled, “It’s Time to Rise Together” celebrating diverse voices on CU’s campus. 

The first event of the series, “It’s Time to Rise Together: Celebrating Black Voices at CU” will include a panel discussion following Dr. Patton’s lecture at 12:30 p.m. The event will be open to CU students, faculty and staff, and local communities with limited seating. 

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. 

Patton participated in the Greyhound Freedom Ride to Jackson, Miss., resulting in his arrest and transfer to the notorious Parchman State Prison Farm in Mississippi. 

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 experience.

Each session will celebrate diverse voices on CU’s campus by featuring notable guest lecturers and panel discussions to provide an opportunity for important and timely conversations.

“CU is a diverse academic community with students, faculty and staff from many different countries and cultures,” said Dr. Kent Hallman, assistant sociology professor and event organizer. “This semester we express our commitments to respecting and caring for others through, ‘It’s Time to Rise Together,’ a series of events celebrating our diversity and our unity as members of the CU family. ” 

Each discussion’s date holds significance to those being honored. “Celebrating Black Voices” will take place in August as the first African slaves arrived on American soil in late August of 1619. 

Following suit, “Celebrating Native and Indigenous Voices” will take place on September 4, coinciding with a time when powwows are customarily held in the local area, and “Celebrating Hispanic Voices” will take place during National Hispanic Heritage Month.

“We invite you to join us for a series of events: It Is Time to Rise Together!” said Dr. Hallman. “Whether you find yourself on campus, or watching online, we welcome you to participate in these invaluable discussions.”

Guests may bring blankets and chairs for seating during the event to follow six-foot social distancing guidelines. 

For more information on CU’s COVID-19 procedures, visit

Information for online viewing will be announced closer to event date.

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