Thanks to Amanda Martin and Charles Shepard of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art for allowing our community to benefit from the “Freedom Riders and Bus Boycotters: Threads of a Story” art exhibit by Charlotta Janssen.
The exhibit touched many hearts, reminded and informed multi-generations of the huge price so many others paid for the privilege of being able to use any public transport, sit down in any restaurant and be served, and for all children to receive an education alongside any other child, regardless of color.
We were there on the first day of the exhibit to meet Charlotta Janssen and Janet Braun-Reinitz, the first Freedom Rider Charlotta painted. We were also there on the last day of the exhibit when Chief Condra Ridley and I led more than 50 members of the community in singing the Freedom Songs together, the songs that served as the Freedom Riders’ voice and their source of strength and solidarity.
On the final day of the exhibit Charlotta Janssen was also present through a Skype connection, greeting FWMoA visitors individually, sharing more stories of the Freedom Riders she has met, and leading songs.
Without the vision of Charles Shepard and Amanda Martin and evidence of their belief that art is a community asset and benefits everyone, none of these wonderful experiences would have happened in our city.
Tom and Carol Butler