Recognizing New Orleans’ Freedom Riders

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On this last day of Black History Month, we’re remembering the people who fought for Civil Rights a generation ago. Julia Aaron Humbles and Jerome Smith are two New Orleanians who were on the front lines of the movement in the 1960s.

As black history month comes to a close we take a look at a couple of New Orleans natives that were on the front lines of the civil rights movement in the early 1960s.

Jerome Smith and Julia Aaron Humbles were among the young people in our city that had enough.

“Every time I saw a sign that said ‘white only’ or ‘white’ or ‘colored’ I had to attack that,” Julia told News with a Twist’s LeBron Joseph. “I had to go get some of the white water. It bothered me. When you see who look at you, who’ve never seen you before, and the hate that comes out of them. We began to really become involved in the movement. ”

Julia currently lives in Atlanta, but came to New Orleans to be honored and to speak to the members of the First Emanuel Baptist Church: “We want to see young people get the light back in their eyes. There has been such a disconnect with our young people because we have failed to keep the story alive.”

Certainly, Julia and Jerome didn’t do it alone. There were many young people from New Orleans that pitched in and did their part.

Jerome even tells the story of Julia standing up to the leader of the movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“There was some strategy opposition,” Jerome remembers. “Julia made the point to Dr. King that she thought that he should go, he should be on the first bus. He was a symbol of the struggle. Later on, I was going down the stairwell and Dr. King put his hand on my shoulder and said he wanted to have a word. He said, and he had a tear in his eye, that that young lady made him know that movement was going to be a success.”

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