Civil Rights Activist
Riverside, Calif. (Nov. 18, 2015) – Helen Singleton, civil rights activist, encouraged California Baptist University students to address racism with dialogue on Nov. 18.
CBU hosted an evening that reflected on the historic events of the civil rights demonstrations of 1961 known as the Freedom Rides. Singleton discussed her involvement in the movement after a showing of part of the film, "Freedom Riders," the fourth and final film in the acclaimed documentary series "Created Equal: America's Civil Rights Struggle."
Singleton shared a moment that awakened her understanding of racial tensions in the U.S.
"Pulling out of Washington, D.C., I, in my younger age, could feel the tension in the car. My parents voices dropped and they looked around nervously. We were entering enemy territory," said Singleton.
This event as a child would also be an inspiration for her decision to participate in the Freedom Rides as a college student years later, she said.
Singleton was one of the 300 plus Freedom Riders, black and white, students and activists, who boarded buses to challenge the segregation laws of the South. Singleton was arrested on her ride and charged with disturbing the peace. Later, she was released.
Three months after the Freedom Rides, the Interstate Commerce Commission issued an order to desegregate public transportation.
Singleton said a life of preparation helps to make tough decisions.
"Preparation is always something that you need, if you want to be involved in life," she said. Singleton expressed admiration for her fellow civil rights activists Rosa Parks and Ella Baker, saying both were prepared and organized individuals.
Sarah Hernandez, pre-nursing freshman, appreciated Singleton's story.
"When she talked about why she got involved with the Freedom Riders and the racism she felt as a child it was especially powerful. It's one thing to talk about racism in general, but it's another to hear someone's first-hand experience with it," Hernandez said.