The WorldPeace Peace Page
Home About John WorldPeace Contact Us Site Map
Blog Email
WorldPeace Web Design Peaceunite Us (Peace org Index) John WorldPeace Galleries
'Freedom Rides' end with rally in N.Y.  Brought attention to migrants' plight

John J. Goldman
Los Angeles Times
Oct. 5, 2003 12:00 AM

  NEW YORK - Culminating bus journeys throughout the United States modeled on the Freedom Rides that fought segregation in the South, tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in New York on Saturday to urge more rights for undocumented immigrants.

The demonstration in Flushing Meadows Park was designed to heighten awareness of the plight of immigrants who are seeking a clear path to citizenship, to reunite with their families and greater protection in the workplace.

"When I was 21 years old, I got on a bus in Washington, D.C. There were 13 of us. We traveled to the South to bring down those signs that say white man and colored man, white women and colored women . . . " Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., told a cheering crowd. "In 1961, 42 years ago, we won.

"Forty-two years later, the Freedom Riders of 2003, you are going to win because you are right," Lewis told the rally. "Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would be very proud of every one of you for being here today."

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., told the crowd it was making history and "making our country better."

The gathering under a gray sky that threatened rain was sponsored by a broad coalition of labor unions, immigrant rights organizations and church groups. They have said a key goal has been to draw more immigrants into the labor movement and gain legal status for millions of undocumented workers.

"We cannot go on simply ignoring or tolerating the plight of those brothers and sisters of ours," said Cardinal Edward Egan, leader of the New York Archdiocese.

Many of the speakers urged the defeat of President Bush in the 2004 election.

At one entrance, an organizer for former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who is seeking the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, passed out literature pledging greater support for immigrant workers.

"Justice, Amnesty, Liberty," signs proclaimed.

"No human being in the sight of God is illegal," the Rev. James Lawson, a 1961 Freedom Rider and a colleague of King, told the crowd. "No human being in the sight of God is undocumented."

Lawson, president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, was the closing speaker.

Many at the rally who held up the flags of their native countries, were members of New York labor unions.

For some gathered in the park within sight of Shea Stadium, it was a time for memories of events more than four decades past.

"Freedom Summer, I was in Jackson, Mississippi, and I remember riding through towns in the Delta and seeing all of the vestiges of the racism that existed and see people whom I knew get locked up, be put in jail, be brutalized," recalled Oliver Gray, 62, a New York City municipal union official. "People died that summer."


How can we manifest peace on earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both sexes) in our vision of Peace?

The WorldPeace Banner







The WorldPeace Insignia : Explanation 

To order a WorldPeace Insignia lapel pin, go to: Order  

To the John WorldPeace Galleries Page

To the WorldPeace Peace Page