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fb why is inherent connection to support with a base shares open so we do something so long term and over occasionally let's go for it it's because business is bliss
there's nowhere to go their last and thank you very much a time i really really appreciating the top restaurants in danger why are you a part of this didn't know i went to nashville as a result of experiences in college was a black women and seeing the prejudice that he and colour hi anne wondered how i would react if i was the minority and our college had this exchange program with the us so i applied for in this except that we
i didn't know what to expect i was very naive as four years like yourself was like my hometown was lily white i never had a classmate of color of any minority so having my roommate in new college was kind of the first and see what what happened there i was i was introduced to adapt and i got into a town or with any intention should get involved and you're right do you want to let the actions you feel like you were in the middle of an exciting atmosphere at the time i arrived a day before more students arrive there were somewhere on campus and you know i went over my room when over the union was going to get something to eat down and in their little cafeteria area and there
were a few students town there were new jukebox playing and i ordered and as i was getting my food a young man came over invited me to join him and his girlfriend pinned enjoyed our conversation that you know one another about each other gruesome dnc going on which i was going wow i never saw dancing like that and i asked what it was lisa of the west well but the western wisconsin was a very flat footed conservative twist and i made the mistake of say why not twist she was good friends with komodo interviews with me will and the initial to myself but i have a lot of people coming over and say now do this live that led them around spend
here we just had a really nice time you know one of their own was enjoying its electricity you know would watch we've got someone taken a movie this afternoon and i was told that we couldn't go to read together we cannot sit together we could not use the same restrooms we could not use the same hole mr ariel sharon first reaction was just one of astonishment you gotta be kidding me i don't make a cent and they explained that they were segregated but that that year her that semester they were going to be launching a campaign to integrate movie theaters and the two of them had been involved in the sit ins a year before so they invited me to join him at a meeting and the faculty member who
was the sponsor if you will for the fist students a fellow by the name of dr few son who was quicker and so i went with him to the meeting that was my introduction to the movement we're trying to get you baby we say lol summary the scientists said they can't decide on to make an unusual decision to go into it and i was informed there was going to be a demonstration the next day i went down to observe and found it not very significant in my eyes move students just good their tribal didn't have any placards your singing any songs then i watch from attacking or
there were very few hecklers gut no no violence in i don't know how long it had been going on when i got there but i find when a crisis treatment of clipper ship in alignment asheville what is it really are trying to accomplish have been watching new hand it doesn't seem to me like what is happening now i was surprised to be referred to their spokesman and i approach their spokesman who was a young man and again asked the same questions and was informed that the demonstration was going to be ending if i'd like to follow them back to the church where they meant he would be happy to talk with a vacuum in which travelers and so i followed them back and we got talking with strong hand was just
totally swept off my feet by him it was a young man younger than me by six months or so but he does seem to have it together in an incredible way he was attending seminary had a deep faith he had obviously been a leader the year before and the solutions are deeply committed to nonviolence but he had done he wasn't what you'd expect to build a leader quite good looking but there was this quiet strength about him how high ultimately became came to call him the rock along with additional because he was but in talking with young after prefer me explain that there was going to be a
workshop on nonviolence and if i wanted to go and observer i could sweat it i i did not know about being nonviolent i get over a short fuse to not envision myself ever becoming un won't you went to the workshop strictly as an observer spent pretty much a month doing that but at the same time i'm doing a lot of soul searching re reading the scripture passages that were used during the workshops wrestling with my own face printed in the national league so what i wanted to do something i worked behind the scenes video leo laporte start the newsletter there were no more different schools involved
here we put together a newsletter to keep the students informed of what had happened and what was planned for the future and so that that's where coming out my like a wet after a while i was asked to take the role of a heckler during the workshop side of the workshops and you know you also had which was kind of two parts arts to these workshops if you will their work two parts to the workshops the first part was very much like a true church the freedom songs were sung scriptural passages were read students would have testimonials as to what being in the movement of them are non violence and having accepted it as their way of life john lovell usually was the
one that gave some kind of a little sermon that that was based on and scripture but then the second half was yet full workshop and that was extremely intense role playing jim lawson would so missionaries or violence might order in a demonstration you discuss how you would deal with that and then they'd actually do it those students that were interested in demonstrating just industry in nashville any way you went through this process i like to demonstrate going to work trying to take the role of a potential demonstrator and you are tested you are spied on you are here you are threatened with cigarette butts you are or get you are whenever you might
expect about oh threat with a knife new memoir called the gymnastics if you broke it and i'm sure you were not said not told you can be part of the moment but you were asked to take a supporting role providing transportation to and from the school is helping make sandwiches for the students after demonstration helping distribute a newsletter other campuses on days where we might not be demonstrating they'll work helps its senior citizens home and children shares cleaning up vacant lots of painting poise whatever money so there were lots of different opportunities which we're not going to be adventure and so out of that you know their name that agency
and how was that news that he didn't know he could be more violence well i was you know i was wrestling with the various specialties that were used and hearing the testimonials and getting to know the students themselves more there was an incredible blow and respect support i believe the right word synergy and i mean you on the net but that the group itself gave strength much more than any individual and you saw that if there was violence that the others gave you strength while you were being beaten or hip or whatever might be fully you're able to stand the whole lot more then you might've been if you're alone and that tremendous support
him the emotional lift that came from hama freedom songs i love music when when we say they gonna let nobody turn me around you're just saying this fall you are making a statement of fact and it it gave you its strengthened hugh and depending on the circumstances it might have been you know how to sit at the welcome table and we were having a city on a desolate places that supposedly a cole porter had not been sung before we would go out to demonstrate was always we shall overcome we always got up and made a circle held hands with the right hand over the left because right was ultimately going to be successful and saying that even if we really
didn't straighten out a prayer and now the void at a large upside i got to get to her and i thought wow my mother wore things are seven very fall crude things there's a little excerpt and eyes on the prize for more trapper cleanup workers are you used every fall thing that could be said derogatory and the n word was clear it's frightening the most crude fouled the issues that you can think of this was shot while at the same time when the the physical abuse was taking place
during a maker of the miniature where another that point because it was part of torture can go on and the students of cells were saying to one another when it all during this time he i was really wrestling with un was a question of nonviolence i think it could do it could be for me the one thing that was solidifying in my mind and i had previously in high school and given some thought possibly going into the ministry but i really came to see that the gospel for me was becoming a gospel of non violent
and jesus's teachings of a sermon and well you know you've heard love your neighbor and i see you love your enemies and pray for those approached future man it's heavy stuff you know you don't think about that and i've heard i had a tooth for her to have what i say to go strike back at the person who's coming into one of the passengers are wishful james talking about if you see are people around you that are hungry in the clothing shelter and you just say eat well stay warm have a good life you don't know anything and what the us faced without work has done so as it has really wrestling with you know if you're gonna lick your face you really better and the faith we recall too was one that was on the side of social justice
and the poor and writing wrongs and israelis to me that segregation was wrong i had been raised in a church where parents should probably right from wrong me and what i was seen was wrong time he said i wanted to do something i just wasn't sure where i could be in one and finally i don't remember which joe banner who said that the role of a demonstrator next year and i'd had been in drama in high school and college i had been the heckler i knew it was going to be said and done to me so i know i can analyze and the comments that were made to me personally and i was really hammer without a problem there was a young lady standing in front of me who was soon number of my classes it's a
sweet deal and i don't know start a look at a couple of minutes in sexual innuendos about her knee that bothered me harm i wasn't expecting that that we got i got blindsided because i kind of their parties will older been pledged by hands but couldn't do anything hand when that all that section of the workshop is over i felt so that erin lash earlier for ukraine is that the possibility was there maybe maybe i can do this too what tor and you realize nonviolence
it section how the pope or because it's love in space we're going to stay here preface at home and at that point i started attending workshops and participating in earnest for the pointer they ultimately became a demonstrator in the movie theaters being the only white guy i could get tickets and you get two tickets pass one the my partner and we tried it into the movie theaters over a period of time between that can sit ins that i was involved in this same time i was elected to be a part of the central committee we were the group that where the spokesman for the demonstrations we were the ones that point on
when the various activities made the decision to check her and it was in that capacity that john lewis brought to us one day in the middle of april or so latter part of april the information the court was going to be having dinneen called freedom riders i recall at that point but that they were going to have the shrine through the south testing interstate travel and that he had applied and an acceptable or so and about that time the movie theaters that integrated so we were on cloud nine there were a few test cases going where people were going down to the to the theater where we were kind of going in a hiatus thinking about well you know what are we going to do next what's next challenger were fishing but it was tenable all until we heard
it in the papers the news that the buses the bus was burned and in anniston and the people were being there and those limited timber me and also being written and will be eating wrestling with what should we do to support them we were talking about well maybe our sympathy march downtown a greyhound station or trailways are therefore you won a sentiment telegrams supporting and we just we hadn't you know talk about logistics and within a matter of basically the next day like what they stopped the right in late flute in new orleans and we're group morning meeting saying i know that kevin you help people use violence think of that if they become violent enough you're going to
fold and older things were buying foreign weed you gotta put your life on the line so we the german very quickly that their identity continue but then spent a lot of time with logistics how many people should go or what should be the makeup of that group how should they get there they go to birmingham or on to the next location which was going to be in montgomery we need to work for our own doctrine or weren't unchanged we didn't and diane hoosier sure that person in a slogan for debate we're going you need to be aware of that there were approximately two dozen lawyers on the central committee at those
altered go hands with all that was too many to go in the first week so it was left to diane nash and jim bevel to make the decision as to who would be an at first but we had to come up with money for tickets we were talking with reverend shuttlesworth in birmingham we came up with an idea that we wanted to alleviate hostility and while until much as possible or our idea was if he could get church members and meet us at the bus station when we arrive we would get and carson just dissipate into the community not do any demonstrating have blushed from last night that they cannot do anything until the following morning when our bus would don't
worry would be going on and that's was a different in and of itself the core muscles work or washes we wanted to go and regular interstate buses we did not charter buses we didn't feel i was really good so reverend shuttlesworth agreed to do that we in turn running around trying to find the money i eventually did i was one of town that was chosen to be on that first was a ribbon of the three females when no one wants to nail salon called the seven finalists we had to go home was a week right before finals so we had to go to the deans or schools and in many cases to our individual professions and no see if we made it through this if we could take their finals later date
at this place and yes the choke appreciated hand that was all happening basically during that day after early morning me all that planning in coming up with a dollar we were told and you know call home once you've got that you need to do some packing and it was stressed repeatedly that we could expect any or all of three things the first would be jailed and second would be beating that the third would be being killed hand because of the severity of the possibilities the ten of us were asked to write a letter to our loved ones i'm expressing more western troops
are telling them we love them and so i i know i went back and did their real a letter was enough my parents had provided me a wonderful trump and a tremendous amount of love and support and everything that i had done i had not shared with them much information looking violence during the demonstrations nfl but as the sole white person i wish the focus the primary focus of most of the violence that took place because i was a huge racial integration i was the crater so i knew if
anybody was probably vinegar pre well being or kill it would be me and i wanted don't wait so i called and i talked to my mother my dad and had numerous strokes and corners by this time and i had sent a letter previously just ten of alluding to what i was doing and they have been informed in no uncertain terms that it shouldn't be and that i was putting my dad's life in jeopardy and i heard the same thing from my mama told and it's going to do i was funny looking and airs not being any different from telling my parents i'm going off to war you know be proud of me
and what i'm trying to make a better country and i was really hoping you know we love you son thought that was you and i ended that i'd received a gun killing your dad that was my mother's last comment to me you've killed her father in jail harris you're architect hello into a poem that would normally and went to a passage that had meant a great deal to me and i mean usually workshop psalm twenty eight and it has lines like the lord is my strength and my solution for life here hosting can against initially be treated and there's a line that says my father and my mother have forsaken me but you will not forsake
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American Experience
Freedom Riders
Raw Footage
Interview with Jim Zwerg, 1 of 4
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WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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Jim Zwerg was an Exchange student at Fisk University, student at Beloit College on the Nashville, Tennessee, via Birmingham, Alabama, to Montgomery, Alabama ride. May 16-20, 1961
Race and Ethnicity
American history, African Americans, civil rights, racism, segregation, activism, students
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Chicago: “American Experience; Freedom Riders; Interview with Jim Zwerg, 1 of 4,” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 9, 2020,
MLA: “American Experience; Freedom Riders; Interview with Jim Zwerg, 1 of 4.” WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 9, 2020. <>.
APA: American Experience; Freedom Riders; Interview with Jim Zwerg, 1 of 4. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from