For Dr. Freddrick Leonard, joining the Nashville Student Movement in the fall of 1960 meant learning to suppress his instincts. As a high-schooler in Chattanooga, he sat in at lunch counters with other students, and they defended themselves when they were attacked. And his shift to non-violent protest was especially difficult. But even after years […]
Civil Rights veteran Dr. Allen Cason sits down with poet Lagnajita Mukhopadhyay to detail his firsthand account of the Montgomery riot that shifted the course of a movement, how his willingness to risk everything for the cause of integration cost Allen years of his life, and how sometimes the work of serving your community means concealing what you’ve sacrificed
After the carnage in Birmingham and the bus bombing in Anniston, Rip Patton and the Nashville students set out to continue the Freedom Rides. Rip talks to poet Destiny Birdsong about how the legacy of that activism points the way for current protest, and then Destiny transforms Rip’s spellbinding history in poetry.
In the early 1960’s Rip Patton was on the frontlines of the civil rights movement. A foot soldier in a coordinated campaign to combat racial inequality on every front. And ultimately, induce the political opposition to revise the central edicts that governed the country.
Etta Marie Simpson Ray is a Freedom Rider and one of the pioneers of the Nashville Student Movement. Etta speaks with poet Kelley Bell about the experience of living in the echo of a movement when your contributions have all but been erased, finding the courage to risk personal gain for the collective good, and the critical importance of carrying the old days with us.
In Season 4 of Versify, we bring you the stories of a remarkable band of historical luminaries, connected by their courageous commitment to racial equality in the 1960s: the Nashville Freedom Riders. We hear of their experiences, in their own words, and our poets turn their narratives into poetry.