Path of the Freedom Riders

Anne Gajewsky

Path of the Freedom Riders

3 min
March 5, 2022

Withee pastor travels route of civil rights

By Anne Gajewsky

OWEN-WITHEE – Pastor Nancy Amacher tells of her experience as part of Midwest Pastors bus trip to relive the Freedom Riders of the 1960s at the Feb. 27 afternoon service at Nazareth Lutheran Church, Withee.

This vibrant assembly of pastors toured the route of the Freedom Riders during the desegregation of transportation in the south. Citing the bombing of the 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham where four young Black girls were killed. Adding the bus ride of Rosa Parks getting herself in the front of a bus.

“We stopped at the jail where Martin Luther King was held.Interesting to hear of King’s response to a letter from pastors in the state,who encouraged Martin to wait, don’t push too hard, let things work out. King’s response was ‘Justice long delayed is justice denied,’” said Amacher.

Other sites visited were the Equal Justice Memorial, whose pillars of cement held the names of many black men that were lynched.

One of the most celebrated and memorialized sites was the Edmond Pettis Bridge and the walk on bloody Sunday in May of 1963. Nancy explained, “We were very fortunate to have a tour guide who had actually walked the bridge that day, a harrowing experience, ‘I thought I would die!’ he exclaimed.”

As part of the service, Pastor Elizabeth Bier led the congregation in rousing gospel hymns. A delicious potluck supper was served after the service. Bier held a discussion on the Racial Justice and Equality Statement of the Northwest Synod of WI and how the area deals with discrimination.

This article was orginally reported by
Anne Gajewsky

Anne Gajewsky is a long-time resident of the Owen-Withee Community and has been a contributor to the Sentinel & Rural News since its inception in 2014.