By Jonpaul Brown
On July 2, 2014 I had a once and a lifetime experience that I will forever remember and appreciate.
I was blessed to be picked by the U.S department of Education to be a student documentarian for the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed.
I got to take a bus ride with some of the original Freedom Riders to the house of senates where the act was signed.
During this celebration I had the opportunity to not only meet some of the original freedom riders but I also had heard their civil rights stories from a first-hand experience.
The Freedom Rider that left a lasting impression on me was Mr. Hank Thomas.
Mr. Thomas spoke to us about his times on the freedom rides and how much he and his fellow riders went through in order to see that there was equality for all.
He was arrested over 30 times, beaten and called all types of harmful names.
This was such great opportu-nity for me and my career as a filmmaker in many different ways.
It allowed me to be able to not only get a chance to practice my craft in a professional setting but it also allowed me to be able to learn, network, and to be recognized as a student leader.
I have started a multimedia production company with a friend named “IIKingstudios”.
This experience helped my business grow tremendously. I have a relationship with the staff in the U.S department of education which can hopefully lead to future project ventures.
I keep contact with some of the students from different schools that were on the trip, such as Howard, Xavier University, and LSU.
After this opportunity I have grown a greater appreciation for the civil rights movement and the freedom riders.
Hearing some of the stories from the freedom riders painted a picture for me that was not clear before.
This experience will stick with me for a lifetime and will be a story that I tell my kids.