Dallas-area Man Who Blazed Trails With Freedom Rides Says Civil Rights ‘every American's Fight'

The night before he undertook a mission his family and much of the country thought was dangerous, and maybe even suicidal, David Myers sat on a bed at the home of a civil rights supporter in Montgomery, Ala., and noticed his African-American roommate kneeling in prayer.You’ve never done this sort of thing before, have you? the roommate asked Myers, a white man. If you had, you’d be down here praying with me.Myers, then 21, and seven others, including six black students, planned to board a Trailways bus the next morning — May 28, 1961 — in Montgomery as part of the Freedom Rides movement to desegregate public transportation facilities. Once they got to Jackson, Miss., they planned to all sit peacefully in the whites-only section.If they were lucky, police would arrest them before a mob arrived."I had this feeling inside I might never get home," said Myers, now 78 and living in an assisted living center in Frisco near two of his three daughters. "You just never knew what was going to happen, or who you were going to run up against."Just two weeks before that night, one of the first Freedom Ride buses had stopped in Anniston, Ala. There, a local branch of the Ku Klux Klan — “reputed to be the most violent Klan in Alabama,” said Raymond Arsenault, author of Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice — surrounded them.The mob slashed the bus tires. Someone hurled a Molotov cocktail through a broken window. Flames quickly engulfed the bus. The mob attacked the escaping passengers. Only warning shots from state troopers prevented possible deaths.Myers had heard that story and seen the news reports. Heeding his roommate’s advice, he knelt on the floor and prayed.Still fighting racismRetired now, his hair and beard wispy white, Myers recently sat down in a wheelchair in his cozy Frisco apartment to recount his journey. Books, albums and newspaper clippings lay on the bed next to him and tell the history of his part in a key civil rights movement.His life is more peaceful now, but he hasn’t lost any interest in race relations.“We’re better off than we were in 1960, but we’ve got a long way to go” Myers said. “We’re not a post-race society.”  Continue reading...

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