1947 - 1949 FREEDOM TRAIN
THAN A SYMBOL: UPHOLDING A CREED
In the late
1940's, many black Americans and other minorities had returned home
in the wartime uniforms of service to their country, only to face
the expectation that they should "know their place" as disenfranchised,
describe the opening events of the Civil Rights Movement as beginning
a decade and more after the Freedom Train's historic journey. But
the train played a role in bringing the message of freedom and equality
for all Americans, regardless of race, creed or color.
Alabama was a scheduled display stop for the Freedom Train. But
city officials there revealed plans for "separate but equal" times
for whites and blacks to visit the train, in accordance with the
city's racially segregated schools, buses, restaurants, and all
other facilities available for public access.
Heritage Foundation, the Freedom Train's operating organization,
told the leaders of Birmingham that such a plan was unacceptable,
and an insult to all that the train represented.
Train did not visit Birmingham, and the resulting message was clear.
incident, no other city attempted to segregate visitors, and the
train hosted visitors of all races and ethnicity, young and old,
in a "priority" determined only by who arrived first to wait in
line. It was a preview of the America we take for granted today,
often without thinking about a time when equal opportunity and freedom
of access were anything but society's accepted standards.
Far from being
a contrived symbol of an idealized America, the Freedom Train took
a proactive part in the hopes of President Truman and Attorney General
Clark for a national "rededication" and a reckoning by individual
citizens of what it means to be an American and to subscribe to
the American Dream.
– the display date that was not kept – is a fine representation
of the greatest impact of the Freedom Train.
Text by Mr.
to Freedom Train...