Betty Daniels Rosemond will be the keynote speaker at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center's Martin Luther King Jr. celebration on Jan. 20, 2020. Rosemond was a freedom rider during the 1960s, risking her life to advocate and fight for equality.
"Rosemond's life is one of courage, clarity and action," says Woody Keown, Jr., president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. "We are honored to hear and share her story with this current generation of social activists as we hope to act with the same grace and conviction she has demonstrated in the fight for inclusive freedom here and around the globe."
Rosemond grew up in New Orleans and in 1961 at the age of 21 she joined with others to be freedom riders - African American and white civil rights workers who rode buses throughout the south in protest of segregation and to challenge the lack of enforcement of Supreme Court decisions declaring segregated buses illegal.
"We began the Freedom Rides in 1961 after the first bus was bombed in Anniston, Alabama," she writes in a civil rights movement archive. "We would board buses and ride through the south testing facilities to see if they were complying with the laws to desegregate. I nearly lost my life on a Freedom Ride when we stopped in Poplarville, Mississippi."
As a member of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Rosemond risked her life to fight segregation - once hiding in a phone booth after several other volunteers were kidnapped for trying to be served in the white section of a Greyhound station in Poplarville. As a crowd searched for her, she was able to escape and return to New Orleans.
Rosemond, who now lives in Cincinnati, says there are many unsung heroes of the civil rights movement "and if I had to get on a bus today, I would do it all again."
She will share her story during the 2020 King Legacy Awards Breakfast at the Freedom Center on Monday, Jan. 20. The breakfast is followed by the annual MLK Coalition March.
"At that breakfast we always focus on the dream of Dr. King," says Gina Goings, vice president of institutional advancement at the Freedom Center. "Ms. Rosemund is a perfect example of really being steadfast in the dream, but dreaming not just for herself but for others and leaving that legacy."
Rosemond participated in CET's Cincinnati Voices. You can watch her tell her story below or by clicking here.