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Charles Person Was on Freedom Riders Bus 50 Years Ago

He helped end segregation on public transportation

Person is looking forward to 50th anniversary commemorations of the first Freedom Ride in Chicago and Mississippi, and plans to participate in the 2011 Student Freedom Ride, a 10-day bus trip with 40 students and original Freedom Riders that will leave Washington May 6 and retrace the 1961 routes. Oprah Winfrey offered to fly every living Freedom Rider to Chicago for a show about the Freedom Rides, and Person was among those who were there for the April 28 taping, which will air today. Freedom Riders, a documentary by Stanley Nelson, featuring Person and many other Freedom Riders, will premiere on the PBS series American Experience on May 16.

"There's no hatred in me," he says these days. "Life is too precious to spend your time hating or disliking someone."

Four other Freedom Riders survive

Of the 13 Freedom Riders who left Washington 50 years ago today, four are still living in addition to Person:

Benjamin Cox, 79, of Jackson, Tenn., is a longtime civil rights activist who is a retired minister and middle school counselor.

Genevieve Hughes Houghton, 78, of Carbondale, Ill., is a former financial activist who became a CORE field secretary and full-time activist in 1960.

John Lewis, 71, of Atlanta, is a U.S. congressman from Georgia.

Hank Thomas, 69, of Stone Mountain, Ga., owns hotel franchises throughout the South and McDonald's franchises in the Atlanta area.

Kitty Bennett is a news researcher and writer based in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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