On January 19, 2015, I went on what is announced as being the last Freedom Train to commemorate the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomey, Alabama, in 1965. It was a very festive atmosphere, as many families of all races joined in the Freedom Train and the march in San Francisco. It is a fitting tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and the many people who participated in the civil rights campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s.
During the ride a dynamic lady lead my section of the train in readings and songs. She passed out programs and gave a history of the Freedom Train. In the late 1970s to mid 1980s, many cities formed “Freedom Trains” to commemorate the 54 mile march from Selma to Montgomery that civil rights participants traveled in 1965. The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Silicon Valley started the San Francisco Freedom Train in the early 1980s. The lady then led the train in a sing-a-long of “The Star Spangled Banner”, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”, and “Swing Low Sweet Chariot”. She ended with a recitation of Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.
At the last stop, the group began a march to the Yerba Buena Garden. I flitted in and out of the crowd, taking photos of the marchers and getting into conversations with various individuals. Many religious groups participated, including the Union of Black Episcopalians, the San Francisco Interfaith Council, The Old Presbyterian Church, Episcopalians for Peace, the Lutherans Hungry for Justice, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Or Shalom Jewish Community, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and the San Francisco Unit of Church Women United. Several shirts alluded to the tragic killings in Ferguson and New York, and a few alluded to the restrictions in voting rights in several states.
Here are photos of the Freedom Train for this year