School Bus Driver Honored As Freedom Rider 5-04-2011 - WSMV News 4

School Bus Driver Honored As Freedom Rider 5-04-2011

Reported By Jonathan Martin
A woman who has driven a Metro school bus for 24 years is being honored for what she did on a bus 50 years ago.

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On Wednesday, the 50th anniversary of freedom rides, on Channel 4, the group known as the Freedom Riders appeared on "Oprah." The freedom rides were when men and women, black and some white, risked their lives standing up to segregation.
The group of more than 300 Freedom Riders were honored on "Oprah." The show was recorded last week.
Etta Ray was one of them. She said she hopes the appearance on "Oprah" helps everyone understand and appreciate all they went through.
Students who board her bus said Ray is a woman of few words but is never afraid to speak up for what's right.
"I think that's what my parents taught me," she said. "I definitely wouldn't take back what we done -- never in a million years."
"And I truly felt honored," said Ray. "She rolled out the red carpet for us."
Some were students at Tennessee A&I at the time, which is now Tennessee State University. They traveled across the Deep South on buses, staging protests and sit-ins as a way to stand up to segregation.
At 69 years old, Ray said being on "Oprah" was the kind of reunion the Freedom Riders had been waiting for, and the exposure across the world, she hopes, is a reminder that their sacrifice should never be forgotten.
"Being on her show, there's no telling how many people will understand what the Freedom Riders did and what it means to us today," said Ray.
She said she wishes her parents were alive to see her on the show.
Ray will be retiring as a Metro school bus driver this year.

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