On Sunday, March 21, 1965, 3,200 marchers joined Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he left Selma, Alabama, for the state capital, Montgomery, along the same route that had been barred just two weeks earlier. The group covered the 54-mile route in five days, sleeping in fields along the way, but everywhere they were joined by supporters. These people believed in King’s message of equality and justice. Five months later, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
So much has changed since then, but people across the Bay Area still celebrate that march every year with a Freedom Train ride running the same distance, from San Jose to San Francisco. Hundreds of people took that ride yesterday to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
The 27th annual commemorative ride was hosted by the Martin Luther King Jr. Association of Santa Clara. Participants included people of all ages, from those who remember Martin Luther King Jr. and the changes he brought to this country, to their children and grandchildren, who have grown up in a better, more equal America.
Among the riders was San Jose’s acting police chief, Chris Moore, who was a young child when King set off on his march. This was Moore’s third time on the ride, but he was proud to announce that it was his first time in uniform. For many other riders, the event has become a family tradition, looked forward to year after year. As one young rider who was with her grandmother said, “I look forward to bringing my children on it one day.”
Hundreds take train ride to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.‘s ‘Freedom March.’