On November 15, Palestinian activists will attempt to board segregated Israeli settler public transport headed to occupied East Jerusalem in an act of civil disobedience inspired by the Freedom Riders of the US Civil Rights Movement. Fifty years after the US Freedom Riders staged mixed-race bus rides through the roads of the segregated American South, Palestinian Freedom Riders will be asserting their right for liberty and dignity by disrupting the military regime of the Occupation through peaceful civil disobedience. Organizers say this ride to demand liberty, equality, and access to Jerusalem is the first of many to come.
Please join us Tuesday, November 15 at 12 noon Eastern Time (Call in number: 800-920-7487 Code: 92247763# ) for this important conference call with Ellen Broms, one of the original Freedom Riders for civil rights in the American South and currently an activist for a just peace in Israel/Palestine. On our call, Ms. Broms will talk about her own experiences as an activist/demonstrator for civil rights in the 1960's and why her activism has led her to take a stand on behalf of Palestinian human and civil rights.
Ellen Broms is a retired state worker who resides in Sacramento, CA. In the summer of 1961, she participated in the Freedom Ride - a landmark demonstration on behalf of civil rights in the American South. Her involvement in the civil rights movement began when, as a student at Los Angeles City College, she demonstrated at Woolworth lunch counters in support of similar sit-ins by students in the South. In June 1961, Ms. Brom attended a freedom rally at the Sports Arena in Los Angeles where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave the keynote speech. After hearing a freedom rider speak, she was inspired to participate in the rides herself.
On August 11, Ms. Brom was arrested with other freedom riders after they sat down and demonstrated in a Houston coffee shop:
The police arrived, having been summoned by the owner and we were charged with unlawful assembly and taken to the Houston city jail. We were fingerprinted, mugged, and classified at the city jail and then transferred to the Harris County Jail. Ironically, I was booked as a "Negro" because of my dark hair and complexion. We declined to state "race" and they classified me as "High Yellow". Marjorie, a very fair skinned, green eyed female rider of African American descent was classified and booked as white. I was placed in the "tank" for black women and Marjorie went to the white women's tank. If we did nothing else during that ride, we did succeed in briefly integrating the jail.
After spending eight days in jail, Ms. Brom was released. The riders were found guilty of "unlawful assembly" by an all-white jury and fined $100 each. Their case was eventually appealed to a higher court and overturned.
Ellen Broms has since been honored by Congress, the state of Texas and the city of Houston for risking incarceration and violence as a Freedom Rider. Ms. Brom continues to work as an activist for peace and justice, particularly in the area of a just peace in Israel/Palestine. She is actively involved in the Sacramento branch of Jewish Voice for Peace and is campaigning on behalf of the West Bank Freedom Ride which will take place on November 15, 2011.