Episode 3: John Lewis – Show Notes

This show was done in February of 2021, during Black History Month. No Black History Month can be complete without discussing the civil rights powerhouse, John Lewis. We had to cover Senator Lewis and his many accomplishments. We are still “finding our sound” in this one, but the heart of John Lewis will inspire you.

  • Amy covers the socially conscious running group F.E.A.R. 00:27
  • Amy describes the history of civil rights icon, John Lewis. 02:50
  • Teresa digs into some current Black equestrians who are keeping the history of Black cowboys alive. 16:21
  • Total Episode Run-Time 21:06

Summary

Our first story is about the Milwaukie, Wisconsin, running group F.E.A.R. (Forget Everything And Run). Milwaukie remains one of the most segregated cities in America and F.E.A.R. is trying to change that by promoting a diversified running group, so people of all races can get to know each other through running. Milwaukie has a huge disparity between Whites and Blacks when it comes to income, health care, education and neighborhood integration. F.E.A.R. encourages runners of all races to come together and enjoy the sport of running. By breaking down social barriers, it makes it easier to work together to overcome economic and racial barriers.

Amy does a deep dive on the history of John Lewis, who became a central figure in the start of the Civil Rights Movement beginning in the 1960s until his death as a U.S. Congressman in 2020. Born in Alabama in 1940 to poor sharecroppers, John original thought he would be a preacher. As a child, John Lewis had little contact with White people, but was aware of the segregation practices of Alabama, where everything was divided between “Whites” and “Colored People”. Black’s were only allowed to eat in certain restaurants, drink from certain fountains, use certain bathrooms, and ride only at the back of the bus. John questioned why things were the way they were and was told not to make trouble. In 1955, John Lewis heard Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. give a speech on the radio and felt as if Dr. King was speaking directly to him. The Montgomery Bus Boycott and Rosa Parks were in the news and John Lewis felt that he had to get involved. After graduation from high school, John attended America Baptist College, where his mother told him to avoid getting into trouble. It was there that John Lewis started making to what he would later call “good trouble”. It was there that John started to participate in non-violent protests and sit-ins. For a peaceful, non-violent man, John Lewis was arrested over 40 times during various protests over the years. In 1961, John Lewis began participating in the Freedom Rides, where white and black students rode sitting together in the front of the bus from Washington D.C. to New Orleans. As a result of this, John and other Freedom Riders were met with physical violence by White mobs. These incidents were instrumental in getting, then US Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, to get involved in enforcing desegregation laws. Lewis later began to rise in the leadership of Civil Rights Movement, including organizing the March on Washington. He became involved in voter registration in Selma, Alabama, which lead to the Selma to Montgomery Marches which ended in Bloody Sunday, where peaceful demonstrators were viciously attacked by Alabama State Troopers, where the Black protestors and their supporters were whipped and beaten by police. John Lewis suffered a skull fracture. This brutal assault on peaceful protestors was televised and was instrumental in spreading support for the Civil Rights Movement. It also led to the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which put in place protections for all voters, but especially minority voters. John Lewis later entered politics and strove to provide equal rights for all Americans. He later became a US Congressman and the sponsor of many civil rights bills. John Lewis, died in 2020 and was the first African American to lie in state at the US Capitol. Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama all attended his funeral. John Lewis was an amazing man and his legacy will continue on.

Teresa takes on two stories of Black equestrians keeping the history of Black cowboys alive. Marcel Collymore began riding horses when he was young but was dismayed that there were no images of cowboys that looked like him. Collymore participates in a rodeo competition called “ranch sorting” riding his horse, Mona Lisa. Collymore participated in a Juneteenth parade, and did the opening prayer, praying for the safety of the riders and participants. Juneteenth is June 19, and marks the date the federal order came down and released all of the slaves in America. Collymore, didn’t have Black cowboy role models, and he was going to be that example for other young Black riders. Another Black equestrian proponent is Abriana Johnson who spreads knowledge about the lifestyle, culture, and passion of the Black horse industry. Abriana has over 20 years of experience in the horse industry and started a podcast out of frustration of the lack of information and representation about minority involvement in the horse industry. Her podcast, Young Black Equestrians discusses the involvement of Blacks and Hispanics in the equestrian field. As part of her podcast, Abrian covers the history of the Black and Hispanic rodeos, where Black and Hispanic riders were only able to ride after the audience had already left. Abriana also shares the history of two Black cowboys that had a major impact on the horse industry, Bill Picket and Tom Bass. Bill Picket, was born the son of a slave, and became a rider in the Wild West Show. Tom Bass was a horse trainer who trained horses ridden by famous cowboys such as Wild Bill Cody, President Teddy Roosevelt, and Will Rogers. In 1989, long after his death, he was inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame. Abriana is doing her part to keep the history of Black cowboys alive and promote Black participation in the horse industry.

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