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My Town Grand Haven: Freedom Rider to visit Grand Haven with his book on segregation | Arts & Culture

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My Town Grand Haven: Freedom Rider to visit Grand Haven with his book on segregation
My Town Grand Haven: Freedom Rider to visit Grand Haven with his book on segregation

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. -- On May 4, 1961, seven black and six white visionaries left Washington, D.C., on two public buses bound for the Deep South.

They intended to test the Supreme Court's ruling in Boynton v. Virginia (1960), which declared segregation in interstate bus and rail stations unconstitutional. The “Ride” started out as a non-violent protest, only to turn into beatings, arrests and death threats that would forever change the history of the Civil Rights Movement.

On Thursday, May 1, the 53rd anniversary of the month this historic event took place, Freedom Rider Thomas Armstrong will visit  the Loutit District Library to discuss his book, "Autobiography of Freedom Rider: My Life as a Foot Soldier for Civil Rights", from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in LDL’s Program Room A.

Armstrong’s book, co-written with Natalie Bell, delves into a time he describes as a constant “war on civil rights.” Armstrong was arrested along the way for sitting down in a room reserved for whites in a Mississippi bus station. The black college student faced death threats in a time when other protesters were brutally beaten or killed. He eventually had to leave Mississippi to escape the Ku Klux Klan.

Now living in Naperville, IL, the veteran of the Civil Rights Movement works to inspire students across the country to better the world around them.

“They [students] can work to change the world,” he said in an interview with the Chicago suburban newspaper, Daily Herald.

Armstrong will also take his message to students of the Grand Haven Area Public Schools the following day.

For more information on Armstrong’s appearance at the library on May 1, call (616) 842-5560, ext. 232 or visit www.loutitlibrary.org.

Loutit District Library is located at 407 Columbus Avenue in Grand Haven, Michigan. LDL serves 35,540 residents of the City of Grand Haven, the City of Ferrysburg, Grand Haven Charter Township, Robinson Township and that part of Port Sheldon Township in the Grand Haven Area Public School District. LDL offers a collection of over 145,581 items and provides educational, informative, cultural, and recreational programs for all ages. LDL is a member of the Lakeland Library Cooperative.