Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HR0341
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Full Text of HR0341  97th General Assembly




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2    WHEREAS, May 4, 2011 is the 50th anniversary of the Freedom
3Rides; on September 22, 1961, because of the dedication and
4sacrifice of almost 500 determined and strong men and women,
5the Interstate Commerce Commission issued an order that all Jim
6Crow signs must be removed from bus and rail stations in the
7South; and
8    WHEREAS, On May 4, 1961, the Freedom Rides began in
9Washington, D.C.; originally, 13 men and women boarded two
10buses and headed for the Deep South to test the federal laws
11prohibiting segregation; and
12    WHEREAS, The plan was to ride in the front of buses and sit
13in bus stop waiting rooms that were designated "whites only"
14and "colored"; and
15    WHEREAS, The Freedom Rides were organized by the Congress
16of Racial Equality (CORE), which trained the men and women to
17be peaceful and nonviolent in the face of hatred and anger, and
18to not strike back against the people they would face on their
19trip; and
20    WHEREAS, John Lewis, now a current United States
21congressman, was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders; on May



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19, 1961, after stepping off the bus and into a South Carolina
2bus terminal, he was attacked and beaten by an angry white man;
3after the beating, he was asked by police if he wanted to press
4charges and he responded that he and the other Freedom Riders
5were not there to cause trouble, so no charges would be
6pressed; and
7    WHEREAS, Elwin Wilson, the man who attacked young John
8Lewis that day, went to the congressman's office in 2009 and
9offered his apology; for years he had prayed that he could meet
10Representative Lewis and make amends for the beating;
11Representative Lewis accepted his apology and the two men have
12since become friends; and
13    WHEREAS, Other heroes included Hank Thomas, who was on a
14bus that was attacked after crossing the Alabama state border;
15as he laid in front of a small grocery store, the store owner's
16daughter, Janie Forsyth, offered him assistance and water; and
17    WHEREAS, Diane Nash, the leader of the Nashville Student
18Movement in 1961, offered to lead the second series of Freedom
19Rides, without regard for her own safety; former United States
20Attorney General Robert Kennedy sent his assistant, John
21Seigenthaler, to the South to represent his office; Mr.
22Seigenthaler was attacked by an angry mob in Nashville and
23Diane Nash also saw violence during her experience; and



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1    WHEREAS, There were so many people who sacrificed a great
2amount to see changes in our country; through their love for
3others, their ability to remain peaceful in the face of hatred
4and bitterness, and their undying courage, change came to the
5South, and across the nation as a result of the Freedom Rides;
7    WHEREAS, As a result of the examples of the original
8Freedom Riders, 40 college students began a journey on May 4,
92011 from Washington, D.C. to New Orleans to retrace the route
10of those important and history-changing trips through the
11South; therefore, be it
14we commend Representative John Lewis, Hank Thomas, Janie
15Forsyth, Diane Nash, John Seigenthaler, and all the brave men
16and women who took part in or supported the original Freedom
17Rides; and be it further
18    RESOLVED, That suitable copies of this resolution be
19delivered to Representative John Lewis, Hank Thomas, Janie
20Forsyth, Diane Nash, and John Seigenthaler as symbols of our
21pride and respect for their bravery all those years ago.