Former Freedom Riders speak at Auburn University

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - Many men and women known as Freedom Riders fought for civil rights by riding buses into the South.

In honor of Black History Month, the Auburn Alumni Association hosted two Freedom Riders at Auburn University.

At the event, the men shared the historical moments in history through their own eyes.

"It was tough, and we didn't realize what was going to happen when we went on the freedom ride," said Former Freedom Rider Bill Harbour.

Fifty years later, Harbour is able to speak about the tough times he endured as part of the 1960s Freedom Riders movement.

"I was 19 years old when I went to prison, and spent 49 days in jail in Mississippi," said Harbour.

Despite countless setbacks, from being harassed, imprisoned, bombed, and beaten during the 60's, the former Freedom Riders say their hunger for change kept them going.

"It was a lot of things going wrong, and I had nothing to lose," said Former Freedom Rider Charles Person.

Today, Harbour and Person travel around the country making sure these lessons about race, equality, freedom and sacrifice are never forgotten.

"One of the things people always ask us about is why we did it, and especially when you could've been kicked out of college, I was kicked out, but we saw something that really could be changed, and that's why we really did it," said Harbour.

These messages of persistence and activism resonated within the crowd at Auburn University.

"I don't want to look back three decades in my life and have to tell my children and grandchildren that I regretted not standing, that I regretted, not doing what's right," said Kelli Thompson, who attended the event.

Harbor and Person both say, at the time, neither of them knew the significance they would have on history, but hope their stories will encourage the next generation to stand up and be the change.

"I think that, we couldn't fast forward in those days, we just knew something had to be done, something had to be better than what we were going through," said Person.

The duo has been speaking to students, and sharing their stories of the Freedom Riders for more than 30 years.

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