I am attending a class tonight at Brentwood United Methodist Church in Nashville called “Seeing the Face of God.” It is part of a series that addresses the historical role of the church in ending racism. The speaker and facilitator will be Dr. Rip Patton, a gentleman who was one of the Freedom Riders in the 1960’s. The photos above depict him as a young man riding the bus to Jackson, Ms., as well as leading a class on non violence in recent years at the Nashville Public Library. He knew Dr. King, Fred Shuttlesworth, John Lewis and C. T. Vivian and recalls the full range of stories that defined the Civil Rights Movement. Our debt to this man, along with all those he knew and labored beside, is immeasurable.
He was featured in a documentary by PBS in 2011 called Freedom Riders, based on a book by the same name.
It brought to mind words from one of my favorite poets, Langston Hughes:
I’ve been scarred and battered.
My hopes the wind done scattered.
Snow has friz me, sun has baked me.
Looks like between ’em
They done tried to make me
Stop laughin’, stop lovin’, stop livin’–
But I don’t care!
I’m still here!