You’re 19 or 20 years old. You’re a gifted college student. You’re in the middle of final exams. After exams, you have a great internship or job lined up for the summer.
Would you be willing to risk leaving school or giving up that job on less than 24 hours’ notice to take a stand for something in which you believe?
Would you be willing even if you might go to jail? Would you be willing even if you might be physically injured? Would you be willing even if there were a very real possibility that you would be killed?
Oh, and if you are willing and if any of these things were about to happen to you, you must pledge that you will not retaliate. You must promise to remain non-violent at all times.
In the spring and summer of 1961, over 200 freedom riders were willing. Most were young adults; some not-so-young. Most were black; some were white. Most were from the South; some came from all over the country to join the movement against injustice. Nearly all of them ended up in jail.
A frighteningly high number of them were beaten, kicked, punched, fire-bombed, and humiliated. Miraculously, none were killed. They remained non-violent.
Being part of creating a piece of theatre raises many questions. As part of my involvement in Walk, Don’t Ride, I ask myself some of these questions. I cannot say for certain that I would be willing.
Jesus was willing. In John 15:13, he said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Was Jesus’ Holy Spirit working through the people and the events of that summer of 1961? I believe so with all my heart.
Is Jesus’ Holy Spirit working through me? As a Christian, I believe so, but is my faith strong enough to be willing to follow His leading? What if He leads me into the valley of the shadow of death? Would I be willing?
Join us for The WordPlayers presentation of Walk, Don’t Ride, as we celebrate the courageous individuals who risked everything in the fight for equality. See the Walk, Don’t Ride page for public showings of the play.