On July 4th, celebrate the legacy of John Lewis and the Freedom Riders

·2 min read

Good morning, fam!

A happy Independence Day weekend to you all!

This holiday, which acknowledges our nation's beginning, comes as Americans across the country struggle with the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Since the decision came out, I've had numerous conversations with people about the meaning of freedom. Many feel that freedom doesn't actually exist. Some don't know where to begin to create change.

I can empathize with these emotions and thoughts. What has helped me in my struggle to understand American freedom is diving into the history of civil rights legend John Lewis.

In 1961, Lewis was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. The committee, along with the Congress of Racial Equality, began the Freedom Rides in the same year. Lewis became one of 13 original Freedom Riders.

The rides were in response to two Supreme Court rulings. Boynton v. Virginia declared that segregated bathrooms, waiting rooms and lunch counters were unconstitutional. Morgan vs. Virginia ruled that it was unconstitutional to implement and enforce segregation on interstate buses and trains.

The rides took place at the beginning of the civil rights movement and were in the midst of Jim Crow.

The Freedom Rides and Lewis' legacy gave me a realization, that as these riders were facing discrimination and oppression, they had freedom in the core of their mission.

They knew the fight for freedom is how you continue to benefit for freedom.

Listen to the recording of The Tennessean's Twitter Spaces segment Friday on "What does freedom mean to you?"

What else Black Tennessee Voices newsletter is talking about this week:

That does it for me, family!

I want to take this time to encourage you all to vote if you don't already. It's great to protest, and sometimes to let our Twitter fingers run free. But nothing is as important and vital to our American society than voting. Let your voice be heard.

FYI: The deadline to register to vote in the Aug. 4 primary is Tuesday, July 5. Register at govotetn.gov.

Have a great Independence Day weekend and be sure to stay cool!


LeBron Hill is an opinion columnist and editor for USA TODAY Network Tennessee and the curator of The Tennessean's Black Tennessee Voices newsletter and Facebook group. Email him at lhill@gannett.com or tweet to him to @hill_bron or find him on Instagram at @antoniohill12.

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Roe v. Wade overturned: Reactions from Black women leaders