JoyEllen Freeman is a former Mandala Journal staff member who was able to participate in the 2011 Student Freedom Riders Tour this past May. Hosted by the Public Broadcasting Service and the American Experience History Series, this bus tour from Washington D.C. to New Orleans commemorated the original 1961 Freedom Riders tour, which sought to actively challenge American South Jim Crow laws. Matt Fayoyin was able to speak with her in November 2011 about her Freedom Riders experience.
Matt Fayoyin: So JoyEllen, we will begin by asking what Reconciliation means to you?
JoyEllen Freeman: To me, reconciliation means acknowledging past actions, accepting their consequences, and making an effort to move forward no matter what. Reconciliation is not something passive that simply occurs over time. It is active, meaning that it requires effort on both sides. Through this power, reconciliation has the capacity to improve life for the better.
Matt Fayoyin: What drew you to participate in the 50th anniversary of the 1961 Freedom Rides?
JoyEllen Freeman: I almost can’t take the credit for “drawing” myself to UGA’s 50th Anniversary of Desegregation Celebration and to the 2011 Student Freedom Ride. They drew themselves to me. I never imagined that I would be at The University of Georgia during its 50th anniversary of desegregation or be at the perfect “freedom riding” age during the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides. But it was my destiny, and by participating in these events, I finally had the chance to thank the courageous individuals who made this destiny of mine possible. It was the very least I could do.