Freedom Riders share their stories with Metro students - WSMV Channel 4

Freedom Riders share their stories with Metro students

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Some Metro Nashville students had a rare experience Monday as they learned about a vital part of our nation's history from the very people who helped make it happen.

Five of the original Freedom Riders shared their stories with students at Fall-Hamilton Elementary.

In a role reversal, Kwame Lillard demonstrated what it was like for young black students during the Nashville sit-ins in the 1960s.

Lillard was among those who ushered in change in Nashville and the country.

Despite our city's significant role, Lillard says educators don't devote nearly enough time to civil rights history.

"There should be a monument in this town. There are monuments to country music, there's a naked monument out there on Music Row, there's no monument saying there was a movement here. Not just a movement, the best movement in the country. There's no evidence that it happened," Lillard said.

Lillard says it is important to reach out to young students and educate them about the people who spurred change and to let them know that they, too, can make a difference.

"Metro government has not done a good job of making black children or any children aware that the movement in Nashville played a stellar role in reshaping our country," Lillard said. "Today, right here at Fall-Hamilton, we're gonna be able to pass that torch. We're going to give those children some more models to look at, rather than athletes, entertainers and rap artists."

After the classroom lesson, the "Freedom" bus took students to Tennessee State University and Fisk University, where many of the Civil Rights protests originated.

Lillard and other Civil Rights leaders in Nashville visit schools, churches and civic organizations regularly.

"We made this town better for all of us, including you. Therefore, you have the responsibility to pick that torch up and run with it. Do something with your life to make the world better," Lillard said.

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