Civil Rights Pioneer and Tampa Native Dr. Bernard Lafayette

02/04/13 Robert Lorei
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Our next guest is Bernard Lafayette who was born in Tampa. He is a longtime civil rights activist and organizer, who was a leader in the 1960s Civil Rights Movement. He played a leading role in early organizing of the Selma, Alabama, voting rights campaign; was a member of the Nashville Student Movement; and worked closely throughout the 1960s movements with groups such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and the American Friends Service Committee.

In May 1961, in the city of Montgomery, Alabama, Lafayette and the other riders were met at the bus terminal by an angry white mob, members of Ku Klux Klan chapters, and were viciously attacked. The Freedom Riders were brutally beaten. Their attackers carried every makeshift weapon imaginable: baseball bats, wooden boards, bricks, chains, tire irons, pipes, and even garden tools.

Lafayette with other Riders was arrested in Jackson, Mississippi, and jailed at Parchman State Prison Farm during June 1961. During Lafayette's participation in civil rights activities, he was beaten and arrested 27 times.

He now teaches at Emory University.

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