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City celebration to feature Freedom Rider

By Kate Starr

The City of Bloomington Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commission prepared a celebration Jan. 20 planned in honor of King’s birthday to promote diversity while providing enjoyable celebratory events.

The celebration will begin with a reception at 6 p.m. and continue at 7 p.m. in the Buskirk-Chumley Theater.

Hank Thomas, a Freedom Rider during the civil rights movement, will deliver the keynote speech.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled segregated buses unconstitutional, they were still prevalent in the South during this time.

Freedom Riders protested by riding interstate buses in mixed race groups.
Thomas caught the attention of the commission when PBS profiled him on a special called “Freedom Riders.”

Brenner and his coworkers contacted Thomas and invited him to travel from Atlanta, Ga., to participate in the celebration.

“We think it’s going to add a new dimension to our list of speakers,” said Craig Brenner, special projects coordinator for the Department of Community and Family Resources.

“We’ve had a lot of people over the last 19 years, but this is the first time we’ve ever had a Freedom Rider from the Civil Rights Movement.”

Mayor Mark Kruzan invited community members to attend the 2014 City of Bloomington Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration, and the Commission looks forward to a good turnout, Brenner said.

Every year, Kruzan invites the public to attend and also participates in the event.

“We expect that there will be a substantial number of people from the campus because there are a number of people who attend classes on the Martin Luther King Commission itself who organize the activities,” Brenner said.

Follow reporter Kate Starr on Twitter @katestarr7.

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